Thanks to the magnanimity of Mario Tapia, mobile industry veteran and chief organizer of the Mobile Monday Silicon Valley Meetup, I was able to attend the most recent Momentum Mobile Accelerator Demo day. For the uninitiated, the Mobile Monday Accelerator Program is a twelve-week program that works to accelerate those businesses seeking to spur innovation and develop deeper relationships with the mobile industry. Applications are now open for Spring 2013 for those startups in need of a booster shot. Four startups in various stages of their development presented at Swissnex in downtown San Francisco. They included: Fiverun, Locomizer, Orbeus, and PocketMath. I’m only going to highlight two, and that’s because I thought they were particular compelling.
Fiverun – to save the Brick & Mortar from extinction
First up was Fiverun, which was selected as a finalist for Seedcamp earlier this month. Fiverun’s slogan speaks for itself: “The Apple Store Experience for brick & mortar retailers.” Fiverun CEO and Co-founder Fabian Oliva made a very convincing presentation zeroing in on the main problem of why Fiverun was created to begin with: Brick & Mortar retail is dying a painful death and losing out big time to online shoppers. Each time a prospective customer walks into a brick & mortar store they run into the problem of not being able to buy what they can’t see. When the sales rep explains that the product they are looking for is sold online they’ve just lost their customer. Fiverun seeks to arm sales reps with their own tablet solution called FastQueue. FastQueue can assist sales reps to help customers with an online purchase. The app reduces wait time and customer frustration by providing a quicker shopping experience and faster checkout time. You can link transactions to a specific customer. Convenient! Although FastQueue is currently only available for iPads with iOS 5.1 or above, according to its website, Fiverun is quickly expanding to support iPhones and Android devices. Fiverun also created Showcase, a “social catalog for retailers,” which is their app that allows retailers to showcase their products online and allows for customer in-store feedback.
As an enterprise SaaS solution for large retailers, Fabian said Fiverun has already signed up customers like Macy’s and Moss (out of the UK) and customers that are eager to try out Fiverun include Verizon and Home Depot. 1.5 million retail stores make up Fiverun’s target market and pricing for their solution is per sales associate. Fiverun is competing with the likes of SAP, IBM, and NCR when it comes to consumer transaction technology. Fabian mentioned, however, that it has created its own proprietary solution called Citrus, which synchronizes with popular POS systems. All in all, Fabian gave an excellent presentation and if the brick & mortar retail industry wants to survive, it should look to innovative startups like Fiverun.
A visual recognition company looking to make sense out of metadata
What is a “computer vision company,” you ask? I too wondered and now I have my answer. Orbeus describes itself as a product that helps computers “see better” than humans. What does that mean? CEO Ning Xu put it this way. YouTube gets uploads of more than 72 hours worth of video every minute; 350 million + photos get uploaded to Facebook daily. The amount of metadata has become so gargantuan in size that no computer can properly understand it. Case in point. Ning provided an example showing text ads promoting meat being served on a Facebook vegetarian profile.
According to Ning, the market is at its inflection point. Meaning:
- There’s an explosion of online photo and video content
- Rapid growth of smart devices with cameras
- Growing needs for big data analytics
- Improving computer vision algorithms
- Increasing connectivity of devices
- Increasing computing power in the cloud
Now is the perfect time for ReKognition, which is Orbeus’s own proprietary API platform that can identify the content of a photo or video. ReKognition is available for companies who want to use the technology to improve its own abilities at identifying content such as a face, a scene, a body gesture, or even a logo.
For now, Orbeus has created its own ReKoGlass SDK offering APIs face detection, face reading, and scene understanding without revealing any personal identity information. The idea of computers “seeing better” than humans gave me something of the heebie geebies. I mean it sounded sort of like a Blade Runner or Minority Report technology of sorts. Recall this scene of personal advertising with Tom Cruise?
Not exactly the same thing but knowing that a computer can “see you better” just invites this kind of comparison (IMO). Orbeus closed a seed round of 1.1 million back in June and will shortly add 300K to its war chest, according to Ning. Orbeus currently has 30 paying customers. The company offers a “freemium” model allowing companies to eventually pay for the API if and when they decide to use it for their own creations. Among milestones achieved to date, Ning said Orbeus has launched its API platform version 2 along with a new UI design. Currently 3 million pics are being uploaded to its engine in the cloud every day, according to Ning.
There you have it. My favorite presentations from the Mobile Monday Accelerator Demo Day.
Share your thoughts on either of these two startups?