Do not underestimate the importance of passion in your team’s members

Intelistyle is an Artificial Intelligence Fashion stylist and retail aggregator

Please introduce yourself and your startup Intelistyle to our readers!
Intelistyle is an Artificial Intelligence Fashion stylist and retail aggregator. Users can use the app to snap a photo of any garment and get outfit ideas either from their wardrobe or participating retailers. Having launched Artificial Intelligence products for Microsoft and content discovery experiences for the BBC I saw an opportunity to change the way we discover fashion so I build a team with strong mathematics and Data Science background to make this happen. We also work with stylists and fashion industry experts to build our recommendations engine. We envisage a shopping experience where your personal Artificial Intelligence stylist truly knows you, always acts in your best interest and is there to support you during and after your shopping experience.

How did you get the idea to Intelistyle?
Well, if you think about it, we are living in an era of self-driving cars and augmented reality games, yet no one has been able to answer effectively the simple question I’ve got every morning when I stand in front of the mirror thinking…Do I wear this shirt or that shirt with these trousers… And I know I’m not the only one. Research shows that 1 in 2 adults in the UK alone are looking for inspiration on how to use or renew their wardrobe and the idea of getting free personalized style advice at the press of a button really appealed to me. If you look into the music or video industry, the concept of personalized recommendations is well understood and companies like Spotify and youtube do it exceptionally well.

When you look at the fashion industry, due to the fact that clothes is a physical product that lives in people’s wardrobes, retailers know very little about their customer. They’re also faced with the unique challenge of not just showing “similar products” but also products that can be combined to create a stylish outfit.

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
One of the top challenges when starting up is finding the right team. Being in a startup requires a lot of hard work and dedication and finding the right people that share the same passion as well as a complementary skill set is always a challenge.

The other challenge was the maturity of the technology. Getting AI to understand the essence of style is very much the subject of active academic research. Developing the technology to a level suitable for end user consumption has been a huge technical challenge.

Finally one of the first obstacles in early conversations with investors was reluctance to believe that something like that is technologically possible. As the proposition matured and we built our first demo, we saw that reluctance turn into excitement and that was a really rewarding moment.

Who is your target audience?
Our customers care about fashion and how they look but they also value efficiency. They’re busy professionals across the age spectrum and they’re looking to get styled for a number of occasions ranging from going on a night out, a date or work. They care about finding the perfect clothes for their body type and skin tone, which are services we’re also planning to offer in the future.

What is the USP of your startup?
These days there a number of aggregators as well as styling apps in the online fashion retail space. A key issue that we see is that often aggregators now very little about their customer offering off the shelf, generic, “complete the look” recommendations only for the products they sell. On the other hand, styling apps either charge a fee or focus on social styling, allowing users to “follow” users’ styles or “get styled by others”. The problem here is that users can’t get instant advice right when they need it most; when they’re in front of the mirror, in a rush to get dressed.

Intelistyle is the only service, that allows users to get instant recommendations, specifically for the item that they want to style either from their wardrobe or a retailer, for free and anywhere they are.

We also want to differentiate by being a value-added partner for each retailer we work with. So we’re offering automated “complete the look” recommendations for their website, packaged in an off-the-shelf easy to integrate API and customisable web widget. This allows retailers to improve their onward discovery journeys increasing their conversion and Average Order Value.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
The very first thing every morning is looking at our metrics dashboard to keep track of progress on our acquisition, activation and retention initiatives as well as engagement for our latest experiments and features. Our daily team standup follows, to make sure we’re aligned, set our goals for the day and go. Being in a startup means you get to get involved with absolutely all aspects of the business, which is incredibly exciting. Not a single day is the same and you get to test and develop your skill set to the max. So one day I might find myself deep in machine learning code or app development while other days are focused on fundraising and marketing initiatives. Based in London, it’s also an excellent place for data science and fundraising meetups in the evenings!

Where do you see yourself and your startup Intelistyle in five years?
Our Vision is to disrupt retail fashion experiences worldwide and revolutionise the way people discover fashion using Artificial Intelligence. We envisage a shopping experience where your personal Artificial Intelligence stylist truly knows you, always acts in your best interest and is there to support you during and after your shopping experience. We believe that styling for your clothes can be a lifelong added value service that extends beyond the typical transactional basis that we see in the current retail world.

By offering free styling advice to all, we aim to build an exclusive relationship with each and everyone of our users, understand their unique needs and recommend clothes that are relevant to them. Whether they are ready to buy or not and for any event in their diary, we’d like Intelistyle to be the go to destination for styling advice. We’d also like to partner with offline and online retailers and advertisers. We want to revolutionise offline shopping, by allowing a customer to walk into a shop carrying their cloud-based roaming fashion profile (on their phone/watch or other wearable), and allow an intelligent in-shop assistant to provide the best choices for them instantly, with limited browsing.

We envisage a world where fashion retail advertising feels less like advertising but more like browsing through relevant products. A world where you always buy clothes with your best friend, who also happens to be a stylist, and will always offer their genuine advice, without asking for anything in return.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
I’d say that it is important to focus on the unit economics of your business model right from the get go. That’s what investors are interested in and largely determines the viability of the business. So focusing early on in the process on finding proxies and testing those metrics pays off.

Do not underestimate the importance of passion in your team’s members. You above all and your team members must be really committed to making this happen. I’d place passion, commitment and capacity to learn, at the top of the list in terms of qualities to look for in team members. Skills can be acquired but these qualities need to be there from the get go.

Finally, make sure you leave ample time, and funds, for running experiments and finding product market fit, after you launch your product. Launching a product is only the beginning of the journey so make sure you have capacity to iterate!

More information you will find here

Thank you Kostas Koukoravas for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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