‘Your outfit is 90% there and you are looking for that last touch. Whether it’s the shoelaces or necklaces this company has got you covered. With their fashion-centered algorithms, FINDMINE can tell you what you need to complete the look. While suggestions are nice to have this takes online shopping to the next level personalizing not what you might like, but what definitely looks right.
FINDMINE tells with AlleyWatch about their 1st place trophy as well as how to get your outfit and yourself feeling good.
Tell us about the product or service.
FINDMINE is a cloud-based platform for omnichannel retailers that dynamically “completes the look” around any product to increase basket size and provide guidance to shoppers on site. Unlike recommendation engines that simply show what other shoppers bought, FINDMINE’s proprietary machine learning approach actually understands relationships between products to pull together contextually relevant items: from complete fashion outfits to the right peripherals to fit a specific baby stroller.
How is it different?
Recommendation engines only focus on what other customers ended up buying or show alternative items (e.g., 4 other shirts). Retailers who want to show contextually relevant products (e.g., whole outfits, rooms full of décor, etc.) currently must manually curate suggestions around each SKU, spending hours to do so, and then these break as soon as any item goes out of stock. FINDMINE’s context engine requires no upfront work because it actually understands the relationships between items for sale from existing site photography and product info. Our machine learning algorithms map rules between items to create hundreds of combinations from existing inventory that are always in-stock. Whereas recommendation engines are often a “black box,” FINDMINE lets retailers dictate the vision and maintain control over what’s being shown to customers.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
FINDMINE is targeting a $20B market opportunity. While we’re starting in fashion e-commerce, this is NOT just a fashion opportunity. Retailers as diverse as home improvement retailers to craft stores have the need for technology that can intelligently bundle their products. Retailers find huge value in keeping customers on their own sites, rather than going to Pinterest, Houzz, Google, a blog or any other separate service to get guidance on how to use a product (e.g., “what to wear with white jeans?”)
What is the business model?
FINDMINE is an enterprise SaaS solution, charging annual fees based on enterprise size and where retailers choose to use FINDMINE (e.g., on their ecommerce sites, via email campaigns, or in-store).
Tell us about the experience with XRC Labs thus far.
The program has been incredible in facilitating connections with potential customers (major retailers and brands) as well as providing resources such as graphic and web designers from Parsons, coaching to perfect the art of the enterprise sale, and access to investors, who are constantly touring the office space. We’re so excited to participate in the inaugural class and are humbled at the talent of our fellow cohort companies.
What inspired you to start this business?
I grew up thinking shopping was easy and there was always someone to help answer questions about how to use what I was buying. But the advent of online shopping and increasingly-resource constrained stores means the retailer offers less guidance. So I’m left drooling over a white leather jacket, but having to leave the retailers’ site to look up on Pinterest how to wear it. There’s all this great advice on the Internet – outfit of the day, recipes, DIY projects, advice for buying the right peripherals for new electronics or compatible products for new baby gear, but little of it is accessible at the retailer’s site or store. So my cofounder (Konstantin Itskov, who’s a computer scientist) and I decided to bring those two together in a scalable way where neither retailers nor shoppers have to work very hard.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We’ve complete an incredibly successful test of our e-commerce “complete the look” product, which builds full outfits around every product in a fashion retailers’ store, so we’re focused on scaling the success of that across multiple brands and retailers in addition to building our email and in-store offerings. Beyond that, the vision is to move into other segments of retail such as home, electronics, baby, hobby, etc. We’re also hiring an additional back end engineer to join the team.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
The Box Group – they have a strong retail understanding and portfolio company Spring would be an incredible customer for us because their catalogue of products is so vast and they couldn’t possibly do “complete the look” manually for each of their items.
Tell us about the experience coming in first place at TechWeek NYC.
Surprising! The first day (quarterfinals) felt just like demo-ing at a conference because the judges were anonymous. We probably gave the poor recruiters who came to our booth to see if we were hiring an earful because we gave the full pitch to EVERYBODY! Then the semi finals felt more like a pitch competition, but we had a little audience participation to help illustrate the pain retailers feel when manually trying to curate looks across their product catalogue, which was a fun activity in addition to the standard pitch. None of the teams knew if we had made it to the finals until our name was called to get up and present, so it was definitely a whirlwind. Actually winning felt amazing, though that trophy was incredibly heavy! It was great validation that we’ve found a real need, have a cool way to solve it, AND have learned to communicate it effectively, which can be almost the biggest struggle for most startups.
Why did you launch in New York?
The founding team is based in NYC and because fashion is our first focus (and retail is our forever business), NYC just made sense. Some of the first retailers we interviewed when doing our research worked right down the street, all in the same 4 block area. NYC is the hub for fashion and retail, so why not be where your customers are? We also have had great access to talent through our networks at both NYU and Columbia.
What is your favorite fall activity in NYC?
Missing summer? Just kidding (sort of). Seriously though it would be sitting at an outdoor cafe just before it’s too cold to do that kind of thing anymore and enjoy the crisp air and the leaves changing. There’s almost a desperate YOLO feeling in the air as everyone tries to soak up as much nice weather before the winter sets in.