Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Don’t shy away from changing plans

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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.

Sarafan.AI technology for the recognition products in photos and videos

Please introduce yourself and your startup Sarafan Technology to our readers!

My name is Andrey Korhov. As a student, I founded my first company Yarmap, which was engaged in the area of electronic cartography. Our mission was to develop a GEO data engine and create GEO software. We used to buy NASA’s pictures and digitized them. The results were sold to Russian companies, such as key mobile operators, Coca-Cola and the biggest search engine in Russia Yandex. We also had made a product for end-users, which was very popular. When Yandex had represented the interest in purchasing Yarmap I decided to sell the company and start to develop Sarafan.AI.

How did you get the idea of Sarafan Technology?

At the start of 2010 artificial intelligence became a buzz word any people started wondering how it could work in a variety of industries. I decided to turn words into action and began developing a product based on computer vision and neural network.  By that point, neural networks were developed to the extent that they could recognize signatures, voices, and faces. Product recognition at that point was still quite a niche, thus, after years of development, in 2016 we launched our first product – an App to identify garments in photos.

Why did you decide to start with Sarafan Technology?

I bet you know this feeling when you fall in love with a very cool jacket or gadget from an article or film. You want to buy it, you can even save it on Pinterest, but you don`t know where you can buy it.  I decided to create an engine that can literally transform inspiration into a purchase. At Sarafan, we’ve developed a Machine learning tool that can identify products on photos and videos. Once recognized, our system seeks out equivalents in online stores and are presented in the form of a widget. Through this widget, the users can automatically transfer to online stores and potentially continue shopping.

What is the vision behind Sarafan Technology?

Our main goal is to create a perfect ecosystem for users, publishers, and advertisers. With Sarafan retailers have a unique possibility to advertise their products with the help of inspiring content. Publishers can turn a website into a special marketplace and monetize their content. For users, Sarafan is a tool to collect shopping ideas and buy favorite products at a fair price.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

I developed an app to start with. The idea was in the air. The user takes a photo of clothes in offline stores or finds an image while surfing the Net and the application looks for similar clothes in online stores. As the first step. Users downloaded the Sarafan App, searched for one product and then… forgot about the app. Why? It was a very long process. You had to save a photo, download it in the App, wait for results and finally go to the online store. We decided to reduce the process to 2 steps – see and buy – and came up with the idea of a widget embedded in photos and videos published on websites. 

Who is your target audience?

As of today, our main client base is online platforms. We’re currently working with 122 media partners which include some big industry names, such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Playboy in Russia, as well as Hello and Myself.de in Germany 

What is the USP of your startup?

no up-front costs – The integration and the customization are free for publishers, we work on a revenue-sharing model

easy-of-use – Sarafan.AI takes care of all the technical challenges – we install, maintain and update widgets

AI-shopping tool – In addition to widgets we install Wishlist service on our partner websites. Readers can save their favorite products in it.  Sarafan.AI provides users with a variety of purchasing options, up to date discounts and campaigns. Should the items the user chose run out of stock, we’ll ensure to deliver the most similar items elsewhere. 

Can you describe your typical workday?

I start my day with the correspondence: I check my e-mail and messengers, answer letters. At 10 o’clock I arrive at the office; my first step is to check how the tasks set earlier are performed. From noon I communicate with potential partners. It can be personal meetings or video conferences. In the afternoon, after lunch, I chat with the team. Now we have three departments – technical and partner departments, marketing. With each department, we discuss current tasks and the plan for the future.

Where do you see yourself and your startup Sarafan Technology in five years?

Now we are developing very rapidly. Last year alone, we increased the number of partners by 11 times. Our team has grown 7 times. We opened an office in New York, entered the markets of Germany, Slovenia, the USA, and Belgium. All this in one year! It is breathtaking! Within five years, Sarafan Technology will become a large international company with partners and customers around the world.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

Once you find a project, define the business model, it seems that you need to stick to a concrete plan- don’t do that. Bear in mind that your number one target is to be going the right direction not the same one. Don’t shy away from changing plans.

Investment receiving is a long process. It seems that today you sign the papers with an investor, and tomorrow you will receive money in the account. In fact, you have to wait long enough. All major financial transactions take time. The period from agreement to receipt of investment can reach from three to six months.

Your team is the main element of your startup. And expert investors know this very well. Hire people that complement each other.

More information you will find here

Thank you Andrey Korhov for the Interview

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

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