TechInAsia.com Last year, Juliette Gimenez and her startup Goxip participated in a startup pitch competition in her hometown, Hong Kong. It was at the Rise conference in August.
Goxip won the “breakthrough” category. It wasn’t much more than a minimum viable product, but the premise was convincing.
The app – available on web and mobile – lets you follow celebrities and then helps identify the clothing and accessories they’re wearing. Then, you’re pointed toward similar-looking items you can actually afford and buy.
“It’s a shoppable Instagram!” Juliette explains.
After the victory at Rise, things started moving fast. Today the startup is revealing that it has secured US$1.6m in its seed round. The two main investors are Chryseis Tan (the daughter of the founder of Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Group) and Thailand-based Ardent Capital.
The deal was actually closed late last year, Juliette says. But she decided to withhold the announcement because she wanted to make sure to get the tech right so that the product would be ready to be presented to a wider audience.
With money in the bank, the team spent another four to five months perfecting Goxip’s discovery mechanism, which is based on image recognition and machine learning. It was built from scratch by Goxip’s team.
“Color is easier, pattern is the next step up. The shape is the hardest thing to crack,” Juliette recalls. “We needed to screen out the noises, skin colors and stuff.”
Later Goxip enlisted the help of Singaporean startup Visenze to help with the machine learning part.
“They have 3 years of experience and data to train the engine with. There was no way we could have caught up by doing it ourselves,” she says.
Goxip now has a database of 2 million products. The celebrity photos are taken from popular websites like Eonline and Popsugar. Community members can submit their own looks. The engine then matches the photos up with items in the database.
The shopping experience, Juliette says, is meant to be seamless, like you never leave the app – even though Goxip redirects shoppers to third-party online stores who handle the fulfillment.
With the product ready to go, the team now wants to tackle its first major milestones.
One is to make the app known in Hong Kong and Malaysia – those are the two markets Juliette wants to start with. Both have a mature online shopping industry and no big competitor doing what Goxip does, she says. The goal is to acquire over a million users by the end of the year.
Second, Goxip wants to integrate a marketplace feature so that it can not only link up with products from well-known brands but also with those from individual designers.
Other Southeast Asian markets are on Juliette’s radar, but nothing’s concrete yet. “We’ll let the data decide where to go next,” she says. “It could be Thailand, Philippines, or Indonesia.”