Germany’s autoRetouch uses AI for bulk-editing fashion product images online; raises €3.2M

Stuttgart-based autoRetouch claims to be the first image editor to automatically edit apparel images in bulk. Also, it is said to be the first-ever image editor to provide an automated ghost mannequin feature, which isn’t available on Photoshop right now. Now, this German AI-powered computer vision platform, focused on editing product images in bulk, has secured €3.2M funding.

Plans to focus on R&D

autoRetouch’s investment round was led by Breuninger, a 140-year-old European apparel retailer. With this investment, the company intends to expand its team of data scientists and engineers from a five to sixteen, double its R&D focus and build initial customer traction.

“We’re building a deeptech b2b platform adhering to a product design philosophy that results in a b2c-like product experience,” states, autoRetouch’s co-founder and CEO Alex Ciorapciu. “Very few other startups have built a similar level of R&D expertise in computer vision in such a short amount of time.”

“As a retailer in a very dense and competitive online market, we have recognised the importance of a good technological solution to significantly minimise the time between the photoshoot and getting the images on the product sales page,” says Holger Blecker, CEO Breuninger. “When we saw what the autoRetouch team could do with apparel images, we knew they were doing something that was previously thought impossible in image editing.”

AI-powered image editing

Founded by Alex Ciorapciu and Julian Eckerle, autoRetouch is an AI-powered image editing platform. It is touted to be more sophisticated than the existing image-editing standard available for fashion and lifestyle brands, creatives and retailers.

Usually, editing fashion and lifestyle product images is time-consuming and often unrewarding in creative terms. The use of outdated technology is considered the industry standard and results in a cumbersome editing process to retouch them at scale. As per the company, it takes 5 to 15 minutes for tasks ranging from removing background removal to basic skin retouching for any standard, non-creative edit of images featuring human models.

With the use of AI, autoRetouch removes background or retouches skin. It combines both the taskmaster and the tool in a single platform. Its API-first approach lets it work at any scale. Editing with the autoRetouch’s AI platform results in great product images easier, faster and cheaper than ever before despite any compromise on creative controls. Moreover, as there is no need to do repetitive tasks with AI, autoRetouch has let customers save up to 90 per cent of the cost than traditional methods.

Patent-pending tech available commercially

Besides its AI-powered imaging editing standard, autoRetouch has come up with its patent-pending Ghost Mannequin effect technology. Previously, this effect was only under preview. Now, this feature is available commercially for users. autoRetouch’s Ghost Mannequin AI, the one-click photography manipulation technology merges two images, and product and inlay shots, intelligently in seconds.

A majority of commercial fashion images use the ghost mannequin effect. With this effect, the model’s or mannequin’s body on which the product is displayed will be digitally edited from two different images to make them transparent or invisible.

All the features of autoRetouch are designed for self-service including the Ghost Mannequin feature. Users can create an autoRetouch account for free and try the service with up to 10 images. To edit additional images, users need to purchase credits available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

As of now, the cost of creating one ghost mannequin image is €0.50 +VAT. On the other hand, configurable workflows for model photography editing are available for €0.10 +VAT per image.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Swiss startup 1plusX uses AI to help online businesses make sense of their data; bags €6.4M

Zurich-based 1plusX is a marketing intelligence platform that is powered by AI to help media companies and marketers turn every data point into actionable and accurate predictions. Founded by Thomas Hofmann, Joachim Schoss and Jürgen Galler in 2015, the company has now secured fresh funding and roped in a new board member.

Closes Series B funding

In a recent development, 1plusX secured $ 7.8M (nearly €6.4M) Series B funding in a round led by Swisscanto Invest, which is one of the leading asset managers in Switzerland. The other investors that took part in the funding round are BI.GARAGE, INC and DG Daiwa Ventures from Japan.

The martech company will use the investment to expand into the international markets by bolstering marketing and sales operations. “In particular, the backing of two new Japanese investors is a springboard for 1plusX’s expansion strategy into the Japanese market,” notes the company.

Previously, 1plusX secured $ 4M (nearly €3.3M) seed funding and $ 5.5M (nearly €4.5M) Series A funding, thereby taking the overall funding secured by the company to date to $ 17.3M (nearly €14.3M). With this investment, the marketing intelligence company will continue to provide highly innovative data management solutions with its first-class customer-centric support and key predictive capabilities.

Jürgen Galler says: “This latest funding round success will provide an important boost to our sales and marketing team to respond to the strong demand for our product in the US, Japan, and Asia overall. 2021 will bring huge changes to the digital marketing ecosystem and give AI technology the opportunity to demonstrate that it can deliver the highest quality data and predictions in areas that historically have been controlled by external factors such as marketplaces.”

“1plusX convinced us with its leading AI data analysis technology allowing their global blue-chip customer base to identify previously undetected powerful connections between data sets. It is an ideal addition to our portfolio, which focuses on Swiss growth companies expanding globally,” says Nils Granath, responsible for ICT investments at Swisscanto Private Equity Switzerland Growth I KmGK.

About 1plusX

1plusX, the marketing intelligence platform is powered by AI algorithms that recognise patterns in user behaviour across client data assets. These are transformed into predictions and meaningful customer insights in real-time.

According to the company, this is how 1plusX customers turn anonymous visitors into profitable audiences, thereby boosting the value of their marketing spend. As per the company, 1plusX customers retain their data, and it is never used for purposes other than their own. As of now, 1plusX has teams in Switzerland, Germany, Paris and Singapore, and it brings together international experts in product management and engineering.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Swedish startup that uses AI, drones to automate powerline inspections secures €1.8M funding

Skyqraft

Currently, utility companies inspect their powerlines manually by a team of people and helicopters. This process is expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous, and has a negative environmental impact. This is where Stockholm-based Skyqraft comes to play as it automates the powerline issues with the use of AI.

Bags €1.8 M seed funding

Skyqraft just announced that it bagged $ 2.2M (nearly €1.8M) seed funding in a round led by Subvenio Invest along with participation from Antler, Next Human Ventures and angel investors. The Swedish company announced that it will use the investment to further develop its AI detection features and accuracy. Also, it will focus on expanding its operations in Europe and the USA.

Currently, Skyqraft is working with the three largest utility companies in Sweden jointly that represent 85 per cent of the Swedish market. Additionally, Skyqraft is also negotiating a series of larger-scale pilots in the USA in 2021 with the global utility company, Iberdrola.

David Almroth, CEO at Skyqraft says, “By 2025 at the latest, utility companies will be able to fully automate their powerline inspections. We will do our part in protecting our environment while supporting the utility companies in this transition. By using data from drones and AI instead of manual inspection by helicopters, we reduce the average CO2 emissions of powerline inspections by 93%, while improving inspection accuracy and safety in a cost-efficient way.”

About Skyqraft

Founded in 2019 by David Almroth, Umar Chughtai and Sakina Turabali, Skyqraft deploys Artificial Intelligence to automatically detect powerline equipment and powerline issues. The company claims it will enable customers to conduct smarter and safer powerline inspections in a more cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable way. The company claims to the first to get the BVLOS license for flying fixed-wing drones in Sweden

Skyqraft uses data from drones and an AI-based risk assessment system to inspect powerline infrastructure automatically. The system can process high volumes of image data and detect equipment issues rapidly and with high accuracy. As per the company, its utility companies can shorten a 25km powerline inspection from as long as two days to just three minutes, thereby reducing costs, risks and environmental impact significantly. It is headquartered in Stockholm and was started at the Antler Sweden incubator.

Startups – Silicon Canals

[BioCatch in Find Biometrics] BioCatch Uses Behavioral Biometrics to Guard Against Authorized Push Payment Fraud

BioCatch is highlighting the utility of behavioral biometrics in the fight against Authorized Push Payment (APP) fraud. APP fraud is a form of social engineering fraud in which a cybercriminal poses as a representative of a trusted institution like a bank or the government, and then tries to trick the victim into transferring money from their account to one opened by the fraudster.

Read more here.

The post [BioCatch in Find Biometrics] BioCatch Uses Behavioral Biometrics to Guard Against Authorized Push Payment Fraud appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Amsterdam-based Media Distillery uses AI to understand what’s inside video; secures €3M

Media Distillery

Artificial Intelligence or AI is already a big part of modern day technology. We use AI for numerous applications such as enabling driverless cars, identifying people and objects, processing speech, finding new medicines and more. One of the providers of AI technology, which enables better understanding of what’s in a video, is the Amsterdam-based startup Media Distillery. The company has now secured €3M in funding. 

Fresh funds for accelerated expansion

Media Distillery has raised a notable €3M in its latest funding round from a  group of entrepreneurs and executives from the international TV and broadcast industry. Media Distillery will use the funding to accelerate the expansion of the company’s team, the international business growth and to scale the research and development teams working on its content discovery solutions. 

Roland Sars, CEO of Media Distillery says, “The commercial potential of creating a ‘sticky’ video environment is enormous when consumers are engaged to a video platform that is personalized to one’s interests and when they can discover relevant content in the blink of an eye. Media Distillery’s use of AI technology to tackle these matters and gives video platforms the opportunity to set themselves apart from competition and boost viewership metrics.”

Using AI for enhancing experiences 

Media Distillery employs AI to figure out what’s the content inside a video for global TV and video companies. The company’s Deep Content Understanding solution is said to generate ‘next-generation’ metadata that enables consumers to search and analyse video content in real-time. Founded in 2014, the company says it analysed over 7.5 million hours of video content in 2020. 

With a surge in video streaming around the globe due to the pandemic, it makes sense for companies to opt for such AI based solutions that can parse through a video to provide detailed analysis of what’s in them. Instead of sifting through hours of content manually, the offering should provide an easier way to understand the context and content in a video. This, in turn, can enable platform providers to enhance the content discovery functionality. 

Alongside detecting the contents in a video, the company’s offering also includes other functionalities. Speech recognition is another offering by the company, which utilises speech recognition algorithms to ensure recognition is optimised for the type of audio or video being used. They also use object recognition and face recognition to draw insights from media, along with text and logo recognition for providing added context. Using multiple sources of data as mentioned, the startup also offers topic detection for a video.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Voice journaling platform Kintsugi uses innovative technology to support mental health and well-being

Mental health is an important part of a person’s overall health and well-being. In addition to seeking professional care, there are a variety of ways to support your mental health, with journaling being a popular option. Kintsugi has modernized the practice of journaling to provide mental health support in mobile app form.

Kintsugi is a voice journaling platform designed to guide your wellness journey and help you reach your wellness goals. As you record your journal entries, voice biomarker technology gauges your levels of anxiety and depression on the GAD-7 and PHQ-9 clinical modules. Kintsugi then provides personalized recommendations for exercises based on your current state to help improve your mental well-being.

Audio recordings are transcribed into text, which Kintsugi users can edit and save. Users are also able to track their journal entries, which can be sorted by sentiment, tag, date, and duration. They can also view health trends, see the progress they’re making towards their wellness goals, and gain support from Kintsugi’s interactive community.

Kintsugi’s talk therapy software includes a neural-network model developed specifically for journal entries. It analyzes raw text and audio from the app user’s journal entries to find speech patterns that may indicate depression. In addition to gaining insight into their current mental state, users can learn how their voice biomarkers are tied to nutrition, sleep, outdoor activities and other physiological triggers. Users also receive guidance in adjusting their personal habits to help them achieve mental well-being.

Kintsugi has been award multiple National Science Foundation SBIR grants and was selected as one of 2600 applicants for Techstars UnitedHealthcare startups for 2020.

Features

Expressive Journaling
Kintsugi users can share their thoughts, from frustrations to happy moments and everything in between. Free-flowing verse was shown in Pennebaker’s clinical studies to lead to physiological improvements in people dealing with depression and anxiety.

Measurable Data
App users are able to easily track their PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores for depression and anxiety and see progress achieved over time.

24/7 Accessibility
Kintsugi can be accessed any time of day or night, from any location, allowing users to record their thoughts whenever they want.

Wellness Exercises
A variety of well-being, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy exercises help users better understand their thinking and make positive changes to their coping strategies. There are five clinically validated core exercises available.

Progress Tracking
Using journal entries and emotional wellness markers, Kintsugi users can track their wellness over time to help them build a plan for future well-being.

Supportive Community
Users can send encouraging notes to other people as well as receive support from people in the Kintsugi community. The community is intended to help users experience empathy and feel heard.

Interested?
Kintsugi is designed to empower people in their wellness journeys. It can help users directly, as well as assist clinicians and nurse practitioners in detecting depression and anxiety in their patients. Three pricing levels are available depending on your goals and needs, and team rates are available. If Kintsugi sounds like a helpful mental health solution for you or your team, visit kintsugihello.com to learn more.

Photos
Kintsugi

The post Voice journaling platform Kintsugi uses innovative technology to support mental health and well-being appeared first on KillerStartups.

KillerStartups

Oxford-based Exscientia uses AI to accelerate delivery of new treatments; get €3.44M from Gates Foundation

Oxford-based leading pharmatech company Exscientia deploys Artificial Intelligence to drive drug discovery. It is claimed to be a pioneer in using AI to design a novel molecule to enter the clinic. Now, this company has raised funding to identify new targets and leads for a slew of ailments such as malaria, tuberculosis, and non-hormonal contraception.

Investment from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In a recent development, Exscientia announced that it has received $ 4.2M (nearly €3.44M) grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With this investment, the pharmatech company will apply its AI-driven Cetaur platforms to the discovery of the new generation of therapeutic targets and leads.

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, says, “Through our investments in Centaur Biologist, we can now qualify targets objectively, at genome-scale. Similarly, our Centaur Chemist platform can tackle a range of challenges, in particular the design of bispecific small molecules that can deliver an improved response through dual-targeting, by assessing thousands of possible target combinations.”

New partnership to treat infectious diseases

By entering into this partnership, Exscientia will be able to use its Centaur Biologist platform to apply domain-specific implementations of knowledge graph and deep learning algorithms to biological data. The platform prioritises opportunities ranging from existing under-appreciated targets to complex new dual-target opportunities. This is where Centaur Chemist can be applied to evolve novel bispecific small molecules.

By applying both Centaur systems at genome-scale, the funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will promote innovative treatments for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. Also, it will let the pharmatech company come up with new medicines for family planning, which will control maternal and infant mortality.

About Exscientia

Founded in 2012, Exscientia has its headquarters in Oxford, England and operates from offices in Dundee, Scotland, the USA , and Japan.  It claims that its Centaur Chemist platform enables breakthrough productivity gains and new approaches to improve drug design. It automatically designs and prioritises novel compounds with its AI systems, which rapidly evolve compounds towards the desired candidate criteria for clinical development. 

Exscientia’s Centaur Biologist platform drives the flexible analysis and prioritisation of discovery targets across all pharmaceutically relevant disease space. By collaborating with several leading pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, Exscientia builds its own portfolio of innovative medicines.

Startups – Silicon Canals

How Eindhoven-based AlphaBeats uses tech developed by Philips to fight stress; raises funds from LUMO Labs

AlphaBeats

In the current scenario, everyone is almost constantly stressed about one thing or the other in their lives, making it difficult to relax. Though there are many ways to relax your mind from everyday stresses, music is something almost everyone turns to. This is where Eindhoven-based startup AlphaBeats can help you. 

The company has come up with a new technology that can quantify if you really are relaxed and if not, it can help you wind down. The new technology aims at enabling stress management and is based on neurofeedback.

The funding

In a recent development, the health-tech startup AlphaBeats has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from LUMO Labs, an early-stage investment fund. The startup has exclusive rights to a technology developed by Philips that combines biofeedback technology with music to drastically reduce the effects of stress. 

Use of the raised capital

AlphaBeats will use the funds for market validation and market introduction, which is expected within 18-24 months. In addition to the funding, the startup will be also be included in the two-year LUMO Labs program.

LUMO Labs founding partner Andy Lurling, says, “In addition to seeking a financial return for our investors, we invest in startups that have substantial social impact. It would be great if we can realise this. As stress is considered THE health epidemic of the 21st century, we contribute by investing in AlphaBeats. It fits perfectly in our health and well-being focus.”

Everything about AlphaBeats

Founded in 2019, AlphaBeats enhances the relaxation effect, so you can really relax, even when experiencing high-stress levels. Using technology developed at Philips, the startup combines music augmented with neurofeedback. Simply put, AlphaBeats amplifies the relaxation effect of music. 

As the company claims, using AlphaBeats regularly over a period of time changes your brain’s reactions to the world around you. “Using our patented biofeedback solution, you learn to guide your brainwaves to the desired state – relaxation – by listening to your own favourite music.”

Strategic collaboration with several German parties enables the Dutch AlphaBeats team, among other things, to measure heart rate variability on a cell phone in addition to breathing.

The startup’s ultimate goal is to help people relax easily and quickly in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and come back to themselves, wherever and whenever they want. Businesswise, the company’s aim is to partner up with Spotify and Apple Music and wearables like Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Muse.

The technology

The product measures real-time brain activity with an electroencephalogram (EEG) that analyses brainwave patterns associated with stress. Also, biofeedback through heart rate variability or breath can be used. As you listen and relax, AlphaBeats measures this activity, gently increasing the quality of the music enticing you to relax a little more, and the process continues doing the same. Combining the two enables you to slow down and quickly reach a state of deep relaxation.

The startup claims that this solution has been scientifically validated in four years of PhD research by Marian Dekker at Tilburg University.

Explaining the technology, Dr Jur Vellema, co-founder and surgeon, says, “AlphaBeats uses this solution to analyse your real-time brain activity. The patented algorithm then adjusts your favourite music to bring your brain into a relaxed state – “alpha mode.” This adjustment is done very subtly to prevent users from being annoyed by the changes in their favourite music. And best of all, you don’t necessarily have to invest in a nice wearable one. You can just use your cell phone and headphones. This means we don’t have to develop any hardware ourselves.”

Collaboration with HighTechXL

The startup was part of HighTechXL’s deep-tech venture builder program and is currently located in High Tech Campus Eindhoven. On the other hand, LUMO Labs is located just about 200 meters away, “so they won’t have to hire a moving van,” says LUMO Labs founding partner Andy Lurling.

John Bell, CEO of HighTechXL, says, “Our collaboration with LUMO Labs on AlphaBeats is a great example of connecting the innovation chain for startups in the Brainport region. HighTechXL builds deep-tech ventures that solve societal challenges, whereas LUMO Labs takes over the baton from us and develops AlphaBeats further on its growth curve.”

HighTechXL is an initiative of the Eindhoven Startup Alliance. It scouts advanced technologies developed at research centres such as CERN, European Space Agency, TNO, and Philips, and recruits tech and business talent to build companies focused on tackling grand societal challenges the world faces today.

About LUMO Labs

LUMO Labs, founded in 2016 by Andy Lurling and Sven Bakkes. It creates opportunities for impact-driven software and smart hardware startups. The current LUMO Fund II is a €20M impact-driven multi-stage capital fund (pre-seed up to and including Series A). It includes a two-year venture builder program to support its portfolio companies in gaining financial success as well as social traction and impact.

The company funds startups that align with at least one of the three United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 

  1. Sustainable Cities & Communities 
  2. Good Health & Well-Being
  3. Quality Education 

It invests in sectors including Artificial Intelligence/Data, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Robotics and Drones, and Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality.

Startups – Silicon Canals

How Hamburg’s Taxdoo uses automation to help online retailers with international VAT; raises €17M

Hamburg-based Taxdoo, an automated platform for financial compliance in the e-commerce industry has closed $ 21M (nearly €17M) Series A funding. This investment round was led by Accel, a global VC firm along with participation from 20VC, Visionaries Club, and existing investor HTGF. The company intends to use the investment for its rapid growth via international expansion, increased sales and customer support, hiring and R&D.

“The funds will be put to use in different areas. Since the demand for our products is growing and our roadmap is extensive, we are always on the lookout for new additions to our excellent team. We will continue building our exceptional engineering and product organisation in order to accelerate our platform roadmap,” Christian Königsheim, co-founder of Taxdoo, mentions in a blog post.

“Adding to that, we’ll make sure to always live up to our standards with best-in-class customer support – something that has always set us apart from others and that we are especially proud of. This will become even more important as we continue internationalising our product to assist more sellers from across and outside the European Union,” he further adds.

Relief to online businesses

The e-commerce industry in Europe is estimated to exceed €700B in 2020 with cross-border transactions accounting for a quarter of that total and rising. Because of this, several businesses are turning to Amazon, eBay, Shopify and a wide array of other platforms to sell internationally. This causes these businesses to face complexities surrounding VAT, accounting and other compliance requirements.

Also, fraud and inadequate tax collection are driving governments to tighten the legislation around e-commerce, which has become a burden for online businesses to collect, prepare and review compliance-related transaction data.

Taxdoo’s founders, Matthias Allmendinger, Roger Gothmann and Christian Königsheim saw the potential to solve this burden with automation during their PhDs in finance and economics at the University of Hamburg. “Gothmann is a renowned international VAT expert following his 10-year tenure at the German ministry of finance and brought this expertise into Taxdoo. Together, the founders developed the idea to connect compliance with an API-driven platform in the e-commerce ecosystem,” says the company in its press release.

Taxdoo is the automated platform for financial compliance in e-commerce. Taxdoo claims to make it easy for e-commerce businesses and accountants to handle VAT, manage financial accounting and ensure the fulfilment of compliance requirements.

“Our goal is to contribute to seamless cross-border commerce in Europe and beyond, where companies are able to focus on their core business, not on bureaucracy,” says Christian Königsheim, co-founder of Taxdoo. “With Taxdoo, e-commerce sellers and other digital businesses significantly reduce their time and costs to handle all tax-compliant processes and achieve greater visibility of their data.”

Rapid growth!

As per the company, it has grown profitably and quickly and empowers over 1,000 merchants across the DACH region to sell across the EU with all compliance. Also, it is scaling up aggressively in order to meet the demand. Taxdoo also intends to expand in the coming months to support the global sellers currently active in the EU market. It is also introducing new accounting and compliance solutions within its SaaS platform. Additionally, Taxdoo intends to triple headcount to more than 150 by the end of 2021, with hiring predominantly for Hamburg-based engineering, sales and marketing positions.

Startups – Silicon Canals

This Swiss SaaS startup uses AI to be the ‘guru’ of customer service; raises €4.1M

Swiss Startup

Customer’s today have high expectations! And, it doesn’t just end with a sale. Besides the products or services that work for them, they want to buy from the companies that make it easy to get help when they need it. 

If a business can’t meet its customers’ demands, they will reach out to its competitors. The initial customer service setup is a key differentiator and as crucial as the product or marketing strategy for a company.

Raised €4.1M funding

In this context, GUURU, a Zurich-based startup, was founded to help companies excel in customer service. Recently, the Swiss startup announced a $ 5M (approx €4.1M) funding in Series A extension, bringing the total to $ 7.9M (approx €6.6M). 

The round was led by Spark Invest and joined by existing investors Investiere, EquityPitcher Ventures, and Swiss Post Ventures. The fund will be used to expand market reach in Europe and support GUURU’s ambitious growth plans.  

About GUURU

Founded by Antoine Meier, Benno Marbach, and Tonio Meier in 2016, GUURU is a Customer Interaction Solution that combines AI with the human experience of product users.

While most of the companies tend to opt for a chatbot or self-service options and limit access to human support, GUURU claims to offer a smart solution, which combines AI with human support.

The Swiss-based startup provides companies with an end-to-end omnichannel solution to resolve all first-level support inquiries through a single platform solution. 

Notably, the repeated questions can, therefore, quickly be identified and automated. It’s worth mentioning that AI recognises the content of the question and sends it to the best source of knowledge. Customer requests can therefore be answered around the clock, with the best possible quality at the lowest possible cost. 

As per the company, this approach allows a company’s customer service agents to remain focused on complex customer cases. Today, customers in 12 different languages and regions benefit from the always-on support of GUURU.

“It is obvious that machine learning-powered solutions are the future in customer service. The fact that GUURU combines it with peer-to-peer support makes this solution so powerful and exciting. We strongly believe that involving the community is a big differentiating factor to the common automated approaches on the market.” says Martin Altorfer, founder of Spark Invest.

Main image credits: GUURU

Startups – Silicon Canals