E-Seller: Profile Cameron Chell of SLYCE

This article originally appeared on esellermedia.com,  on March 27, 2013

Cameron Chell - eseller

Written by Gabby Griffith

Cameron Chell, founder of Slyce, explains how his business will revolutionize ecommerce by enabling customers to buy products just by snapping them on a phone camera.

Shazam is often referred to as one of the UK’s biggest technology success stories. The app allows you to identify a song being played by holding your smart phone up to a speaker. You can then purchase the song using your Shazam app on the phone.

Some enterprising developers in Calgary, Canada, were inspired by this and embarked on a mission to create the same service but for products. The end result is Slyce, the team behind it refer to it as “Shazam for stuff”.

Slyce has the potential to revolutionise ecommerce. It is a visual-based purchasing platform. It allows consumers to take a picture of a product and then purchase it using their phones. Slyce launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this month – I caught up with CEO Cameron Chell to find out how is works and what the opportunities are for brands.

How did Slyce come about?

It is a visual-based purchasing platform that allows consumer brands to have their customers purchase products by simply taking a picture of them. We are part of a technology accelerator in Calgary called Podium Ventures. We had just finished working on a project called Urthecast – planning to put cameras on the international space station to create 24/7 video of planet earth. It’s like Google Earth in near real-time.

We got the project fully funded, we’re at the point now were we have the technology ready and customers lined-up to take advantage of it. The rocket will go up with the camera in October. With that project almost complete, we decided to take the management team and create something new.

We thought how cool would it be if you had something like Shazam for objects.

How does it work for brands and consumers?

Consumers don’t see the Slyce brand. We provide the technology and make it available to consumer brands who can add it to their apps. We also partner up with telecoms companies to make the technology widely available.

Loyal fans of brands download their app, take a picture of a product using the app and they can purchase straight away. That’s one side of the business, brands love it because it gives them a way to monetise their apps and get them to act like a mobile cash register.

The other side is that we are working with mobile carriers to encourage them to embed the tech so that users can take pictures of any brands using their phones and as long as the brands are registered with us, they can purchase that way too with commission paid to the carrier.

It can also work with print media and advertising. If you are looking through a magazine and see an ad or a product in a feature, as long as the magazine and brand are registered you can take a picture and buy that way.

Why do you think it will be successful?

People today are using their cameras to take pictures of products, whether it is to find it online later or shop around for a better price. The value we add to brands is saying, “look, people are taking pictures of your products and maybe going and buying them elsewhere later.” We offer an opportunity to capture that sale at the point of interest.

Do brands need to pay to be registered?

Currently, because we are early stage, all we are doing is taking a part of the transaction fee. Carriers, like Telecoms companies or magazine also get a part of the transaction fee. It doesn’t cost anything to register your brand.

What kind of technology do you use?

We have developed a bit of our own technology and integrated a number of existing image recognition software as well as payment processing technology. We use bar codes, QR codes and we are implementing semantic web tagging technology too. Every day we are loading more technology to optimise the experience of the customers.

How will it change ecommerce?

It optimises ecommerce – the most important point in ecommerce has always been the point of sale. Billions of ads have been aiming to driving people to that point. But from a behavioural point of view the most important point is the point of interest. That is where the emotional engagement with a product is highest – the dopamine is rushing hardest in your brain and you are more likely to buy that product at that point than any other.

If that point can have a cash register we think it could have significant implications. It’s more than just a cool app, it is truly going to revolutionise advertising, monetisation and ecommerce in general.

Do you have any brands signed up yet?

We are at the stage where we have some initial brands fully integrated and we can complete transaction with them using the platform. We are currently building the carrier network before making a huge push to take on brands.

I would we are in conversations with no less than 150 brands, the number of Fortune 500 brands that we have spoken to is crazy. We have proven the model works for brands we just need to carriers in place.

Have you had any investment so far?

We have had $3m invested so far and we will be doing another strategic round of funding in April. We have had a lot of interest from well-known investors and VC s – they are definitely circling.

Is there anyone doing something similar in the space?

Not specifically similar, people are often asking, “Why cant Google and Amazon do this?” The next three to four years of this business is really understanding the logistics, working with brands, bringing the carriers in.

That is something we are perfectly positioned for, Amazon or Google couldn’t work it on this small scale with an initial offering and build from here. In the next three years or so however when the nitty gritty is worked out you will start to see the big players move into the space aggressively.

For more information visit the Slyce website