#FoundersFridays: Meet Svetlana Kordumova
Meet Svetlana Kordumova, founder of Pixyle.ai, an automatic tagging system that uses the power of advanced visual AI in fashion.
Founders Fridays is a StartupAmsterdam initiative showcasing local entrepreneurs who help strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to shine a light on our ecosystem's most inspirational stories and role models. We'll all learn and grow together by providing startup founders with a space to share their insights and experience.
This week we spoke to Svetlana Kordumova, founder of Pixyle.ai. The company was founded to apply cutting-edge AI research to enhance online purchasing for customers who spend too much time and energy searching for what they want. Their goal is to create the most precise visual AI technology in the world so that fashion merchants can provide their customers with exceptional online experiences.
How did your career journey lead you to found Pixyle.ai.?
I was a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam graduating in AI and computer vision, and on the personal side I was also a passionate online shopper. The shopping I experienced on fashion e-commerce marketplaces was so dreadful and difficult to find what I was looking for. At the same time I was working on this amazing advanced AI technology with image recognition and search, that was not implemented in real life for users. I still remember being at an event where the presenter was wearing a dress that was exactly what I would describe for me as the perfect dress, and I couldn’t stop thinking why there wasn’t a way for me to just snap a picture of the presenter and find this dress in any e-commerce store. So I guess that my frustration of not being able to easily find what I was looking for when shopping led me to start Pixyle.
What makes Amsterdam a great city and a great ecosystem for a startup founder?
Amsterdam has a very high density of startups, incubators, accelerators, investors, coworking spaces - basically all the support you need to start and grow a business. There’s a lot being organised by the community and you can go to a startup meet up every day of the week! All stakeholders involved really put a lot of effort into making Amsterdam a thriving startup community. Myself, I’ve participated in one one the accelerator programs (Rockstart) and it has been life changing. Especifically for AI startups, Amsterdam is a great place to start. The PhD graduates that come out of the universities in Amsterdam are a great resource for tech talent of data scientists. I can speak for sure about the AI group at UvA where I graduated, led by Cees Snoek. It's on a par with the world’s leading universities in terms of AI research and scientific achievements. They are winning on video and image search benchmarks with their research in AI, and this kind of technology will lead the next wave of AI startups.
What are the goals and needs of Pixyle.ai for the upcoming months?
We recently closed our €1M seed round and we’re on the lookout for talented people who want to join us on our journey to become the leading product data enrichment platform for e-commerce. So all you great data scientists and developers out there, you know where to find me :-)
We will expand our offering with new, exciting AI products that will help fashion brands & retailers operate more efficiently, improve site search, and increase conversions. In upcoming months we’ll be rolling out a new solution that uses object character recognition (OCR) technology that allows our clients to recognize brands, material composition, size, and country of origin “made in '' from a label inside a fashion item. We also have plans to move into new verticals besides fashion, and furniture is next. So a lot of exciting things are on the horizon.
What has been a recent win for your business?
As a startup with very new technology, it can be quite difficult to convince a large enterprise to set-up a collaboration. This year we signed our first enterprise client, which was a huge win for the team. It was a 9 month long sales process with three tests. We were benchmarked at first against 20 competitors around the world, then narrowed down to 6 in the second test, and in the third test it was us against the second ranked. We managed to achieve the best business and conversion KPIs boost, almost at double value against the second ranked solution provided by another startup. This was a great recognition for the whole team working on the product, that we have built a world leading AI technology. This win also gave us confidence that our approach of providing great customer support, listening to our clients and adopting the AI models is the right way to provide the most value. Our persistence and positioning has paid off.
What has been a recent “challenge” for your business, and what have you learned from it?
Fundraising was quite challenging. Keeping the day-to-day business running while having to also invest serious time in talking with investors is truly a juggling act. For our next round, we are now much more experienced in knowing how to structure the whole process. We’ll definitely assign one person to lead the process from start to finish. We are now also much better prepared with metrics, reports and we know exactly what targets we need to hit for the next round. The startup journey is so exciting, and we are looking forward to taking Pixyle to the next level.