Have you ever spent hours on the internet scouring for that one specific item of clothing you might have seen somewhere? Perhaps you provided an exceptionally detailed search query that showcased your eclectic knowledge of the subtle nuances between eggshell white and cream and yet still failed to locate your treasured goal? Svetlana Kordumova from North Macedonia understands your frustration all too well.
Indulging in her passion for fashion and frustrated by her own online shopping, Svetlana embarked on a mission to change the e-commerce game. Capitalising on advances in artificial intelligence (AI), she launched her start-up Pixyle which provides online retailers with computer vision software, enabling them to generate highly accurate product details, build rich online catalogues and improve their products’ discoverability.
After raising EUR 1 million in seed funding from South Central Ventures and receiving advisory services from the EBRD’s flagship Star Venture programme – supported by Luxembourg and the European Union - Svetlana is now poised to take Pixyle in new directions and establish herself as a leader in visual AI.
Reimagining the future of fashion
Svetlana Kordumova began her foray in artificial intelligence at a critical juncture. The field of AI was transitioning from shallow to deep learning and had made significant strides in computer vision and visual processing.
Encouraged by her internship supervisor, who recognised her talent and passion, she began a PhD in computer vision and image recognition in Amsterdam, working on exciting new technology that she envisioned could have potential in the real world.
After attending a start-up bootcamp in Amsterdam, the idea to start her own visual AI company began to take shape.
A self-proclaimed fashionista, she noticed how site searches provide inaccurate product recommendations to customers. Recognising the challenges posed by inconsistent and inaccurate data collection in the fashion industry, Svetlana assembled a team of experts and set out to build a comprehensive dataset of over 1 million meticulously labelled fashion images.
With this dataset, they trained their computer vision models to accurately process and recognize fashion items, generating rich and detailed tags. These tags could then be implemented by retailers to provide customers with specific insights about their products and significantly improve relevant search results. As a result, retailers can create better online catalogues that are more intuitive and user-friendly.
Breaking into entrepreneurship
In 2018, Pixyle launched a marketplace where users could search for sustainable versions of the fashion items they liked using images or text.
However, Svetlana recognised the potential for wider impact and started offering her state-of-the-art technology to other marketplaces and fashion retailers. Since then, Pixyle has experienced rapid growth, helping leading e-commerce companies and exciting fashion-tech start-ups increase efficiency, improve product discovery, and boost turnover.
With offices in Amsterdam and North Macedonia, Pixyle encompasses a team of 22 people and supports brands and retailers all over the world, including Tendam in Spain, Otrium in the Netherlands, and Miinto in Denmark.
Over the past four years, Svetlana's team has built the most extensive fashion taxonomy to date, tagging over 250 million products. The result? Improved efficiency for merchandising teams by up to 75 per cent, and an average 10 per cent increase in retailers' conversion rates.
The EBRD’s Star Venture team supported Pixyle with consultancy projects across a range of critical business areas, including personal data protection, marketing, sales optimisation and international scale-up.
“At Pixyle AI, we believe that understanding the customer’s intent is crucial to succeeding in retail. That is why we leverage AI to improve product discovery for fashion e-commerce. The EBRD’s advisory support helped us set up a strong sales and content marketing strategy and improved our professional accountability with clear data processing rules towards our clients,” added Svetlana.
Svetlana's journey from a gifted mathematician to a successful entrepreneur has been one of hard work, dedication, and a passion for solving real world problems. Through Pixyle AI, she is revolutionising the fashion industry and paving the way for other businesses to harness the power of AI in new and exciting ways.
The Bank's Star Venture programme in the Western Balkans has been operational since 2019, and now boasts a portfolio of 31 high-potential startups from the region. Thanks to funding from Luxembourg and the European Union, through the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility, the programme is creating new opportunities for start-ups in the Western Balkans by providing access to financing and know-how.