ViSenze, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) company that develops visual technology for e-commerce and digital businesses, has closed a US$10.5 million in Series B round of funding led by Rakuten Ventures, the venture capital arm of Internet giant Rakuten. WI Harper Group, a cross-border investment firm, and Enspire Capital, a VC firm that focusing on early-stage technology startups in the US and Asia, co-led the round.
SPH Media Fund, the investment arm of Singapore Press Holdings; FengHe Fund Management, an Asian alternative asset management firm founded by Alibaba ex-CTO John Wu; Raffles Venture Partners; Phillip Private Equity; and UOB Venture Management, also participated.
The financing will be used to invest further in its proprietary image recognition technology, expand headcount and grow its international offices. Besides expanding the R&D team of machine learning and computer vision scientists, the new investment will also it to grow its offices in the US and India, as well as to open up new offices in the UK and China.
“ViSenze has achieved impressive market traction with their ground-breaking AI technology in the e-commerce space. With their innovation DNA, they are developing new solutions, bringing simplified shopping experiences on digital content platforms. Their new solutions for video commerce have huge potential too. We are very excited to continue investing in ViSenze and lead their series B round,” said Saemin Ahn, Managing Partner of Rakuten Ventures.
ViSenze develops advanced visual search and image recognition solutions to help businesses in e-commerce, retail and content publishing. Built on technology combining machine learning and computer vision, ViSenze recommends visually similar items to online shoppers in milliseconds, either on e-commerce platforms when they browse or search by uploading a picture, or on content publishers platforms like social media and video networks.
Its solutions are used by some of the largest e-commerce companies like Rakuten, ASOS, Myntra (a Flipkart company) and Lazada to increase their engagement and conversion rates. Brands use ViSenze to turn images into engagement, and publishers use ViSenze to generate monetisation opportunities from their visual media assets.
ViSenze claims to have a revenue growth of over 300 per cent in the last 12 months.
The startup has offices in San Francisco, New Delhi and Singapore. It is a spin-off from NExT, a leading research centre jointly established between National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University of China.
“Online search is a fundamental part of our daily lives, yet the majority of visual shoppers are saying keyword search is inadequate in today’s visual web world. So we want to solve this problem by simplifying the way online users look for information or shop for products online,” said Oliver Tan, Co-founder and CEO of ViSenze.
“In online shopping, we train our visual shopping AI to look deeply for visual attributes in products and match them to available products that shoppers are searching for. We have generated up to 70 per cent uplift in conversion rates for our retail clients through continuous search quality improvements and innovations developed by our R&D team,” Oliver added.
The company is now preparing to introduce discovery-driven shopping solutions to visual content sites. These solutions specifically address the issue of broken links between visual content sites that inspire shopping interest, and the type of products being sought.
In 2014, ViSenze had raised US$3.5 million Series A led by Rakuten Ventures, with participation from new investors Walden International (WI) and UOB Venture Management (UOBVM).