Do you ever get that feeling when you walk into a beautiful home, and wish you had the magic touch that inspired the design?
The kitchen tile is perfect. The flooring matches the wall decorations, and the colors of the furniture just flows naturally with the home’s aura.
Stylyze wants to help those of us who are a bit challenged when it comes to achieving this blissful state. And the fast-growing Seattle startup just scooped up $2.8 million in seed funding, money that the company will use to continue its mission of empowering people to “discover their inner beauty and share it with the outer world.”
A lot of us certainly could use help with that.
The fresh cash — provided by a large syndicate of angel investors, including many leading retail executives such as former Nordstrom CFO Mike Koppel — will be used to accelerate growth at the 26-person startup. That includes rolling out new services, and expanding alliances with leading retailers as they look to play in a world where shoppers seamlessly move between physical and digital experiences, CEO Kristen Miller tells GeekWire.
“Stylyze offers ‘out-of-the-box’ customer experiences that can be quickly customized for online, in-store, mobile and marketing use cases,” Miller said. “We get retailers to market quickly and become their platform for innovation.”
Miller, who has founded four companies in the home decor industry, said they’ve got a growing pipeline of retailers interested in Stylyze.
She founded the company with Lisa Perrone — an interior design whiz who previously worked at Schoenfeld Interiors and Schick Design Group— in 2010,
“Lisa and I both worked in the interior design industry and spent countless hours trying to help clients describe their style,” Miller told GeekWire in a Startup Spotlight feature two years ago. “Then we spent even more hours trying to find products to bring their style to life. We knew that most people (interior designers included) often start their search for products online, and thought there must be a better way to help people find and coordinate products by colors and styles they love.”
They continue to push forward with that mission, integrating an algorithmic approach to the problem. The company lays out the example on its Web site:
Let’s say…you want to create 10 looks for the 100,000 products in your catalog. You hire a designer to do the work. It takes them 30 minutes to create one look and you pay them $30hr. To get 10 looks for your 100,000 SKUs it would take the designer 12,500 weeks and cost you $15 million dollars! Stylyze does this work overnight for a fraction of the cost.
Of course, the home decor market is huge, and Stylyze is not the only company chasing it. Companies like Pinterest, Wayfair and even Home Depot are taking aim, recognizing how much is at stake. And Stylyze is not focusing exclusively on home decor, taking its core technology to the apparel market, where it faces competition from the likes of FindMine, which is bringing machine learning to the retail industry, and Stylitics, a New York based company founded in 2011.
“There are some solutions in the market that are essentially ‘widget-based’ approaches to enhance customer experiences,” explains Miller, when asked about the competition. “Our platform offers a robust data-as-a-service solution that enables retailers to innovate across the entire customer journey.”
Miller also notes that Stylyze is focused on enhancing experiences of large retailers, letting them build their own proprietary experiences.
It does this, as a first step, by normalizing all of the data around products from various vendors, using a proprietary “fingerprinting” system to classify all products. Then, the company brings scale to what Miller calls “shop-the-look” experiences such as “Top 10 Looks for Fall.” These programs are natural sellers, but retailers have a hard time automating them, and when Stylyze steps in the company can curate hundreds of possible concepts per item.
“These looks can be configured in endlessly creative ways to tell stories about rooms, outfits, occasions and events,” said Miller. “Our customers can access this data via web services to power experiences across the customer journey from offsite inspiration on Pinterest through to post purchase emails.”