Five years ago, Svetlana Kordumova, the founder of Pixyle AI, which is today announcing a €1 million seed funding round, was struck by a frustrating irony. Studying for a PhD in artificial intelligence and computer vision at the University of Amsterdam, she spent her days working on sophisticated systems capable of identifying complex images at great speed. Back home, indulging her passion for fashion, she struggled to find the clothes she wanted online because so many retailers offered such a poor online experience.

“We were doing this amazing stuff with AI and I wasn’t seeing any of it in real life,” Kordumova recalls. “I often knew exactly what I wanted, but searching for it on retailers’ websites would mean having to wade through pages of results.”

The kernel of the idea for Pixyle AI was formed out of that experience, but Kordumova’s vision for the business really began to take shape when she took part in a boot camp for entrepreneurs organised by Uber. Her tutors recognised her leadership skills and encouraged her to follow her instincts and launch Pixyle AI as a business.

The company’s concept is simple. Its technology enables users to search for a very specific piece of clothing using text or pictures. If you’re looking for a marine blue shirt with a scooped neck, short sleeves and a baggy fit, Pixyle AI will help you find it more quickly. Or, if you’ve got a picture of a dress you like, the technology will find similar products you might want to buy.

“We set out to make that whole shopping experience much less frustrating,” Kordumova explains. “Rather than having to go through endless web pages to find what you want, now the right product will come up on the first couple of pages.”

Kordumova’s original idea was to pitch her technology directly at shoppers. In 2018, Pixyle AI launched a marketplace through which shoppers could find sustainable versions of clothing they loved. A consumer attracted to a piece of fast fashion, say, could use the platform to find a sustainable version of the garment.

Sponsored

The marketplace had some success, and Kordumova took the company into the Rockstart Accelerator programme. There, she recognised an opportunity to get wider traction – and serve more consumers – much more quickly. The business pivoted to a new model, selling its technology to other marketplaces, which can incorporate it in their user experience.

“I realised I was limiting the reach of Pixyle AI by restricting it to our own marketplace,” Kordumova explains. “We could have a much bigger impact with the new model.”

It turned out to be a smart decision. Since 2020, the business has grown rapidly; its technology now powers the search experience of 25 different marketplaces and fashion retailers. Revenues tripled last year and Kordumova is hoping to repeat that success over the next 12 months.

For her new target market, the appeal of Pixyle AI is that making it easier for customers to find what they want on your website increases the likelihood of them buying from you. Based on feedback from the marketplaces and retailers that have installed the technology, shoppers are getting to the items they want 18% more quickly than previously; conversion rates have improved by 5% as a result.

Those numbers are not surprising if you consider that millions of shoppers the world over share the frustration that first inspired Kordumova. Research shows that 94% of searches deliver irrelevant results and 72% of sites completely fall short of search expectations. The result is that the majority of shoppers abandon their search. Google has estimated that in the US alone, the cost of such bad search experiences is $300 billion of lost revenue each year.

If Pixyle AI can help retailers win back even a small chunk of that missed opportunity, the future looks bright for the company. Today’s fundraising will help the business further develop its services – and ensure it can recruit, both on the product development side and in sales and marketing. Kordumova also sees potential to expand into other verticals, such as furniture and electricals.

“Ecommerce has gone from strength to strength in recent years with several innovations to help the channel become second nature for consumers,” says Jan Kobler, managing partner at South Central Venture, which is leading the seed round. “A pivotal part of engaging online shoppers is product search, being able to find what you want easily and quickly. However, search has been hugely underserved and remains an unmet need for retailers and shoppers until now. Pixyle AI is laser focused on this opportunity and is already moving the dial with more sales for retailers.”

Sponsored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *