ViSenze has announced today that it has closed a US$3.5 million Series A round of financing led by Rakuten Ventures, with participation from new investors Walden International (WI) and UOB Venture Management (UOBVM). The investment comes within seven months of the company’s first announcement of its collaboration with Rakuten Taiwan.
This new investment will allow the company to increase headcount in research, product and infrastructure development. It will also help scale up its cloud platform and enhance market development resources to support partners internationally.
ViSenze, a spin-off company of the National University of Singapore (NUS), develops intelligent visual tools that provide intelligent visual recognition, visual search, matching and recommendation functions for e-commerce and contextual advertising applications across web and mobile platforms.
Since its beta launch in July 2013, ViSenze has secured projects with SingTel Digital Media and Zalora. Noted Oliver Tan, CEO and Co-founder of ViSenze, “By focusing our strategy to address real world challenges in e-commerce, our technology is now used by global internet giant Rakuten and fashion social network Clozette. We also won an award at the prestigious Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) 2013 Award under the Emerging Technology category.”
“We are very excited to have Rakuten, WI and UOBVM backing us; their international network will help us scale faster. We will invest in accelerating the development of our own in-video visual recognition technology and are currently engaging key players in North America and China — two of our priority markets,” he added.
ViSenze’s visual search engine helps to detect and recognise target objects in complex images and videos automatically, while ignoring the similarly complex backgrounds. It is also able to process huge amounts of visual data (including user-generated photos and videos) in real-time, and concurrently perform searches against large visual databases of related products and services, shared an official release.
Also, ViSenze’s core technology is designed to be highly scalable, trainable and adaptable, enabling it to be adapted quickly from one domain. This opens up huge potential for large scale applications of ViSenze’s technology in affiliate marketing and in-video native advertising, added the release.
As a result, one big factor leading to Rakuten’s investment in ViSenze is its technology. According to Toru Shimada, Senior Executive Officer, Rakuten, and CEO of Rakuten Asia, “We are impressed by ViSenze’s ground-breaking technology and the team’s capability to take it further in the realm of e-commerce, affiliate marketing, and video advertising. This investment recognises the transformational potential of ViSenze’s technology and our confidence in the company. The Rakuten Group will clearly want to be the first to take advantage of this technology.”
Technology also plays a part in both, Walden International and UOB Venture Management investment decision. “We firmly believe that as the web becomes more visual, ViSenze is well poised to take maximum advantage as an early mover in visual search technology,” said Yong Soo Ping, Executive Director, Walden International Singapore.
Added Wan Kum Tho, Executive Director (Investments) of UOB Venture Management, “Robust technologies aside, we always look for the right team. The company has a well balanced combination of founders with diverse talents, proven track record in research and development, entrepreneurship, and international business experience. They demonstrated foresight and boldness to play on the global stage right at the onset.”
Prior to Series A financing, VisSenze’s seed funding was provided by the four founders. The company is also supported by Spring Singapore (SPRING) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (iDA) via a grant award under the Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS).