Bengaluru: Artificial intelligence start-up Mad Street Den Systems Pvt. Ltd has raised an undisclosed amount in a Series A funding round from Sequoia Capital and its existing investors Exfinity Venture Partners LLP and GrowX Venture Management Pvt. Ltd.
Founded in 2013 by husband-wife duo Anand Chandrasekaran, a neuroscientist and a Stanford alumni, and Ashwani Asokan, a former Intel Corp. executive, the Chennai-based start-up had earlier raised $1.5 million in January 2015 from Exfinity Ventures and growX Ventures.
The firm, which employs neuroscientists, data scientists, computer vision experts, marketers and designers across India and the US, plans to deploy the funds to expand further into global markets.
The company aims at strengthening its personalisation platform to improve its understanding of style preferences of consumers, which will in turn help brands.
The company also aims to build tools for retailers that will enable them to predict customer needs, automate visual merchandising and inventory management, as well as reduce returns.
“The business of retail needs fresh thought and approach,” said Asokan, chief executive officer at Mad Street Den. “On the one hand, retail is losing money in various parts of the world. But on the other hand, the industry has not changed too much in the last 10 years. Be it in the US or Europe, there hasn’t been anything that is fundamentally different. AI has the power to change that.”
In January, Mad Street Den launched Vue.ai, a platform that helps fashion e-tailers provide visual recommendations to consumers.
The company claims to have a pipeline of more than 100 clients in India, West Asia and the US. In India, it counts fashion e-tailers such as Craftsvilla and Voonik as clients.
These visual recommendations are powered by what is called computer vision based AI. According to Asokan computer vision based AI works at the level of product preferences, the individual’s shopping behaviour, and the community or social context for that individual.
“Mad Street Den is a pioneer in what we think of as the next wave of AI start-ups, which will be capable of making versatile intelligence possible with small data sets, and yield magical results. Significant learning, and not just label training is at the heart of these start-ups, which are only now beginning to emerge,” said Gautam Mago, managing director at Sequoia Capital India Advisors.
There are multiple start-ups globally trying to crack visual search. Visual search start-ups help companies enable their users to discover products online, based on photos of objects in the real world. In India, companies such as iLenze (which raised $500,000 in funding last year) and SnapShopr (which raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding) offer visual search platforms.
With e-commerce booming in India, Singapore-based Visenze, whose visual search offering is used by Flipkart, is setting up operations in India to cater to the demand, Mint reported on 27 January.
“There is a lot of noise in the market around AI. There are a lot of customers and investors in the market who are equipped to understand what is an AI company and what is not. We have to spend a lot of time with customers from a teaching perspective, help them understand what is real AI and data analytics. We are building technology that can be used beyond retail, but currently more than 90% of the company is focused on retail,” Asokan said.