The Future of Communication Technology: Vince Cacace of Vertebrae On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

The best way to understand our technology is through the eyes of our customers — and their customers in turn. Take David’s Bridal which recently partnered with us to rollout the first immersive commerce implementation in the bridal industry. When COVID-19 forced the shutdown of all David’s Bridal stores for the first time in the brand’s 70-year history, they seized the opportunity to bring wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses to life for online shoppers, giving them the context and detail necessary to narrow down options and arrive at purchase decisions. This included making sure that brides online could see the details and intricacies of a dress, which are often missed if not seen in store, as well as provide an immersive and interactive experience that brought each dress to life at home.

Implemented on our Axis platform, the immersive and engaging experience provides instant access to high-quality 3D and AR visualizations of best selling dresses directly from product pages without requiring customers to download a separate app. Through highly detailed AR visualizations, brides and bridesmaids can view life-size gowns at a full 360-degree angle in their own living room, allowing them to walk around the dress, see how it will look next to other wedding party outfits, and examine intricate details before heading to stores. The Vertebrae technology allows customers to zoom in on elaborate draping, beading, fabric, and trains, as well as place a favorite gown side-by-side with virtual bridesmaids dresses to look at color, print, and style matches. Brides and members of the wedding party can also take pictures standing next to the virtual mannequin.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vince Cacace. He is the founder and CEO of Vertebrae, a leading provider of 3D and AR commerce solutions for the world’s largest brands including Adidas, Coach, Facebook, Microsoft, Toyota, David’s Bridal and more. The company was founded in 2015 with the mission of making the online shopping experience more like real life for shoppers everywhere. Vertebrae’s award-winning immersive commerce platform combined with its expertise in enterprise eCommerce and 3D and AR technology provides retailers with the fundamental infrastructure for modern commerce and is proven to drive unprecedented engagement and sales. A recognized 3D and AR leader, Vince was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list and was featured as one of Variety’s 10 Innovators to Watch. He holds patents in 3D rendering and analytics and regularly works with industry groups and platform companies to set standards, formats, and best practices.

Cacace speaks on the topics of AR & VR at conferences like the Forbes CMO Summit, NAB, Next TV Summit, Integrated Marketing Forum, Sundance Film Festival, Elevate Brand Storytelling, and UCLA Big Data Conference, among others.

In addition to Vertebrae, Cacace is a Board Member of Whoopi’s Virtual Field Trip, a VR nonprofit he co-founded with Whoopi Goldberg dedicated to providing wondrous virtual experiences to underserved and seriously ill children.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I left the corporate world to launch a tech startup, I was overwhelmed by the huge slate of unknowns. However, I was surprised at how quickly we were able to ramp and successfully get things going. For example, when going through the formation process, I was amazed at how many executives would respond and offer their time to hear my ideas and give their feedback and advice. Many of these people didn’t even know who I was, and I was amazed and humbled by their openness and honesty. Today, a couple of them are still advisors to Vertebrae.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” ―Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk

I think it is critical to remain cognitively aware that you don’t have it all figured out, and others don’t have it all figured out either. And that there’s a lot of value that comes from curiosity, and others, and their ideas. Listening and paying attention will lead to far greater success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Shiva Rajaraman is one of our advisors at Vertebrae. He has been responsible for shipping incredible products at YouTube, Google, and Apple. I met him in the very beginning of my work with AR, and he remains the most thoughtful and educated person that I’ve ever met when it comes to go-to-market strategies. He has a unique lens for viewing technology problems and applying a sales strategy for products. There wasn’t a singular event, but a series of conversations that has helped crystallize my thinking over the last years. When I talk to him, it is all about framing the problem, and then getting really clear about how to best think about it and then address it.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

One of the projects that I am most proud of is a non-profit that I founded with Whoopi Goldberg that provides virtual reality (VR) experiences to underserved and seriously ill children. One example is a virtual field trip that we hosted in partnership with Hole in the Wall Gang Camp which provides programs free of charge to seriously ill children and their families. Everyone was able to get in on the fun of a slam dunk contest where the players “soared over their heads” during a sport-themed CampOut.

We’ve done 5 or 6 activations now, and it is incredibly rewarding to take the best part of immersive experiences and use them to help people.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

If you’re shopping online, would you rather look at a photo of a product, or would you rather try that product on, or actually see that product in your home? Vertebrae exists to make the online shopping experience more lifelike and therefore more engaging and useful for brands and retailers alike. Our technology enables web-based 3D & augmented reality (AR) product visualization and try-on experiences for the world’s largest brands including adidas, Coach, David’s Bridal, Facebook, Microsoft, Toyota, Herschel Supply Co. and more.

The best way to understand our technology is through the eyes of our customers — and their customers in turn. Take David’s Bridal which recently partnered with us to rollout the first immersive commerce implementation in the bridal industry. When COVID-19 forced the shutdown of all David’s Bridal stores for the first time in the brand’s 70-year history, they seized the opportunity to bring wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses to life for online shoppers, giving them the context and detail necessary to narrow down options and arrive at purchase decisions. This included making sure that brides online could see the details and intricacies of a dress, which are often missed if not seen in store, as well as provide an immersive and interactive experience that brought each dress to life at home.

Implemented on our Axis platform, the immersive and engaging experience provides instant access to high-quality 3D and AR visualizations of best selling dresses directly from product pages without requiring customers to download a separate app. Through highly detailed AR visualizations, brides and bridesmaids can view life-size gowns at a full 360-degree angle in their own living room, allowing them to walk around the dress, see how it will look next to other wedding party outfits, and examine intricate details before heading to stores. The Vertebrae technology allows customers to zoom in on elaborate draping, beading, fabric, and trains, as well as place a favorite gown side-by-side with virtual bridesmaids dresses to look at color, print, and style matches. Brides and members of the wedding party can also take pictures standing next to the virtual mannequin.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Vertebrae offers a straightforward shopping tool that helps people make more informed purchase decisions. Our application is specific to the retail environment; therefore I don’t believe there are any sci-fi drawbacks. However, I love the question and am curious to hear how others respond.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Definitely. We started out working with many of the Hollywood studios to build creative VR and AR experiences and pretty quickly realized that, while these experiences were really fun and engaging and entertaining, they weren’t that impactful or even useful. Instead, people were finding more value in product-oriented experiences where they could try a virtual product on or see it in their space to answer questions like “how big is it?”, “how does it look on me?”, “what are the details?”. By understanding that pain point, we started to look at how we could bring this technology directly into the purchase path.

In parallel, we also decided to move out of VR because we realized that it was early and the required headset was too much friction for the user. In order to be frictionless, we needed to bring AR to the web and invent a technology that could be used on laptop or phone, in the browser, without any extra equipment or download.

As a result, we doubled down on creating product-oriented virtual experiences in the real world — not in a virtual world — using AR on the web where everybody could access it to make purchase decisions without needing a headset or downloading an app.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

From a technology perspective, we are there. Everybody just needs a smartphone with a camera.

From a business perspective, brands and retailers need to have their full product catalogs in 3D, just like they have product imagery for their full product catalog today. As the volume of content increases, so does the ubiquitousness of the experience. We are starting to see that now, where consumers expect to be able to visualize furniture in 3D or virtually try-on eyeglasses online. As this becomes more commonplace, consumers will start to expect the experience on every website that they go to shop online. Think about the ability to read a review of a product before you buy it. In the beginning, that actually stood out as a cool new feature but pretty soon it became something that consumers just expect because it is so valuable and useful in making purchase decisions.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

This one is really easy for us. People are uncomfortable going into stores, and even when they’re there, many times they are uncomfortable with trying on the products, or it’s not even allowed. And so we solve that for retailers.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

The first three things are highly related and absolutely essential for anyone who is trying to make a business on the cutting edge of tech. First, build for a problem that can be solved today. Second, don’t over-invest your resources until you have true product market fit. And third, be clear about which indicators prove that you do have product market fit and that you aren’t telling yourself an optimistic story.

For example, when we started out doing VR, we had our VR advertising SDK installed in 75 different VR apps, essentially all of the VR apps had it. This allowed us to serve ads to an audience of millions while they were in virtual reality. As early market leaders, we were innovating new capabilities like native 3D object placement in VR. But we quickly realized that the headset industry wasn’t ready to take off yet. So we pivoted from building products for an industry that didn’t yet exist and turned our focus to Web-based AR. It was a problem that was solvable today, and one that addresses a really significant pain point for users.

As far as other things I wish someone had told me, make it easy for your customers and their customers. If there is one thing I’ve learned working with the world’s largest retailers, it’s not to introduce friction or force consumers to take an extra step. This is entirely why we have made our technology accessible from any device without download.

And finally, do something every day that moves the needle. When running a startup, it can feel like you’re sprinting everyday, yet you only move an inch. But then you look back after a couple of months and you realize how far you’ve actually come — and how much you have accomplished.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Tying back to the idea of being open minded and willing to learn from a variety of viewpoints, I am pretty disturbed about the selection bias of algorithms today. The disinformation combined with everyone thinking they are correct because of where they get their information is causing a very worrisome divide in our society. This is bigger than a single company or single platform, and fixing this challenge is in my mind one of the most pressing issues facing society today.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way to follow my work is through Vertebrae’s Twitter or LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: ​David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath​, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.