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Snap Fashion Launches Today!

We’ve all been there. We’ve poured over red carpet style and wondered where we can get a dress like that. We’ve noted a top on our street style heroine and yearned to get the look, and yes, we’ve sighted out-there designer shoes and dreamed of finding a pair just like them all season long, all at a price that suits.

Hankering after a dress, top, pair of shoes – whatever the desired object – and not having the first clue about how to get hold of it is one of life’s annoyances. Enter Snap Fashion, a sartorial search engine that uses images to search for matches, saving time, money, and eliminating the frustration of having to trawl for hours – days, even – shopping online.

Snap Fashion, the first of its kind in the UK, is invented and developed by 25-year old computer science graduate, Jenny Griffiths, who was one of the few girls in her class at the University of Bristol. “I was tired of shopping on a student budget,” says Griffiths, Founder of Snap Fashion. “I love admiring looks in magazines, on the catwalks and those that other women put together, but when it came to sourcing the items that I liked – within my budget – I struggled. Using technology to search via images seemed like the most obvious thing to do.”

The process is a simple one: take out phone,

Our app is live today – give it a go by downloading it from the iTunes store, or using the website: http://www.snapfashion.co.uk

launch the free Snap Fashion application, select the product type that you want to search, and then snap it. The item is then searched for on Snap Fashion’s extensive list of affiliates via cut, colour, and style, and the results are delivered straight back to you within seconds. Users can browse all, save favourites to buy later, or click through directly to the retailer’s website to buy now. It’s a rewarding shopping experience all in a few quick clicks.

The net is cast wide courtesy of Snap Fashion’s vast database, which currently counts more than 100 major retailers. It’s a catalogue that boasts high street giants including Gap, Jigsaw, Jaeger, Uniqlo, Warehouse, LK Bennett, French Connection, Reiss, Monsoon, and Kurt Geiger, in addition to etailers Mywardrobe.com, Stylebop.com and Farfetch.com and a host of department stores such as Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, House of Fraser, and US fashion emporium, Bloomingdales.

For more information, please contact: Jenny Griffiths

Email:  jenny@snapfashion.co.uk

‘Nontrepreneurs’ of Tech City: A Response

Hi everyone,

Jenny here again. Snap’s has some good news coming up, but in this week’s post I thought I’d focus some negative press that has been surrounding Tech City recently.

Concerns have been raised that the Tech City scheme is wasting money. Working in Tech City it’s obvious to see that the area is receiving significant investment from the Government. There are some brilliant events being run in Tech City, by both UKTI and other organisations, and this network is bringing people together and helping start-ups share knowledge and experience. I wouldn’t say this was a waste of money, but a necessary cash injection to make the Tech City initiative work.

Indeed, it is a little disheartening to read an article about “media 2.0sluts” and “nontrepreneurs and poseurs, attempting to start what serious investors now refer to as ‘leisure startups’,” as all the people we have met in Tech City are passionate about their start-up businesses and dedicated to being part of a new wave of tech companies in London, regardless of their political views.  I’d  rather concentrate on the positives of the Tech City initiative and have no doubt some incredibly successful companies will  be born from the initiative.

The article questioned the value of start-up firms spending time Tweeting and taking time out of the day to attend networking events. While people might feel differently, I believe that this communication is essential. Without it, how will Snap Fashion get its message across when it launches? I  also believe that as a customer-facing business it is important to  have an open dialogue with our retail affiliates and future app users, and Twitter is an invaluable resource for doing just that .

I would agree to a certain extent that there can be an air of “trying to find the next Zuckerberg” in Tech City (if you’re male and under 25 you’re in with a chance), but there are so many other people out there not looking for fame and riches, but to change the tech scene and the way that things work today.

What’s Snap Fashion’s motivation? To make searching the Internet easier. With more and more products being available online daily, we’re definitely due an update to the way that we search for things on the move. I just hope that in the process we can convince people that we’re not in it for fame, glory or to make a quick buck, and show that the majority of Tech City companies share the same values as us.

Snap Fashion – coming to a small screen near you!

Hi everyone,

Jenny here.  Wow, it’s been a busy two weeks for Snap Fashion.  The highlight has to be filming for BBC Click.  We’re really excited about it being aired, and I keep joking that our editor Sarah is about to embark on a great modelling career, having had her body shape discovered by the app on camera.

Kate Russell, who got in touch with Snap and filmed us on the day, was asking some great questions about Computer Vision which got me thinking – how much do the public know about Computer Vision, and how much do they actually want to know?!  So, here’s my “Computer Vision in a nutshell” guide.

Computer vision is a way of making a computer “see” in a way that we expect humans and animals do.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  The trouble is, all that we’re given in a photo and no other information.  Once again, that doesn’t sound too hard.  The only problem is we don’t appreciate how complex our brains actually are.  Seeing things is all about context.  We know that that circle is a football because of its markings, coupled with the fact that it’s being chased around by a load of grown men.  A computer, however, sees groups of white and black pixels bunched together on a vaguely green background with lots of coloured splodges.  Not so simple now.

Therefore, in my opinion, the essence of Computer Vision is context.  How do we make a computer see and comprehend?  This is the crux of why computer vision hasn’t been out there for years, and why everyone is still struggling to find the optimal solution.  Here at Snap Fashion we’ve developed algorithms which will focus on Computer Vision for clothing.  The context of searching for clothing on a red carpet is very different to searching for logos, buildings or album artwork, which is why Snap Fashion is launching in such a specific domain, and why other products, such as Google Goggles, are focusing on different areas of Computer Vision.

But is it a bad thing that these solutions are so specific and segmented?  Not in my opinion.  As long as it results in the best results and user experience for consumers, why should it matter?  We’ve just got to be mindful of how we integrate the technologies in the future.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought.  It is very hard to impress consumers with a computer vision product – one bad result and your product is instantly denounced as “not working”, “not quite there” or, quite frankly, a bit rubbish.  Now, think about one of the things that you first learnt to do.  Before you could even talk you were pointing and recognising.  Babies point at the toys that they want to get hold of.  Cats can recognise their cat bed (or a lovely pile of newly washed clothes) to go and nest in.  Pigeons can tell the difference between cigarette butts and tasty crisp morsels.  The functionality of Computer Vision products isn’t seen as intelligent but just as common sense leading, rightly so, to highly unforgiving testers!

But of course Snap Fashion is amazing… you’ll just have to wait a little while longer to see the results for yourself!

Have a good week, and enjoy the rest of our blog.

Jenny.

Is this for real? CEO Barbie

We have some new inspiration for our wall in the Snap Fashion office! This made us laugh- is it for real?

We will be dressing like this from now on 😉

In case you missed it- some words from Snap Fashion’s founder + CTO on women in technology!

Welcome to Snap Fashion’s Affiliates!

Hi everyone,

Jenny here.  We’ve had another fantastic week and can’t wait to share some exciting news with you!

An amazing 70 fashion companies have now joined with Snap Fashion. Take a look at the amazing list of shops, which include household names, high street favourites and high-end online boutiques. We can’t wait to launch now!

The order is completely random by the way, so enjoy!

Welcome to all our affiliates.

  • Debenhams
  • Harrods
  • House of Fraser
  • Marks & Spencer
  • New Look
  • ASDA George
  • French Connection
  • John Lewis
  • very.co.uk
  • Reiss
  • Karen Millen
  • ESpirit
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • Miss Selfridge
  • Warehouse
  • BANK
  • Firetrap
  • StylistPick
  • Office
  • Motel
  • Boohoo.com
  • Cloggs
  • Fashion World
  • BHS
  • Forever Unique
  • Dressrail
  • Donna Ida
  • Ted Baker
  • Missguided
  • Plain Lazy
  • Joy
  • my-wardrobe.com
  • Quiz
  • Wallis
  • Evans
  • Olivia Rubin
  • Bastyan
  • Rise Fashion
  • Woolovers
  • Select Fashion
  • Crumpet
  • Sara Berman
  • Tessabit
  • Urban Industry
  • Question-Air
  • Paprika
  • Republic
  • TheRemedi
  • East
  • Schuh
  • Cult
  • Girl Meets Dress
  • Boutique1
  • Oxygen Boutique
  • Monsoon
  • Coggles
  • Brora
  • START London
  • Rare
  • Ruby Red Rouge
  • A Wear
  • Anna Scholz
  • Jigsaw
  • Fat Face
  • Stylebop
  • Jaegar
  • Oasis
  • Coast
  • Uniqlo
  • Oxfam
If you’d like to be part of Snap Fashion then drop me an email – you can find my email address on our website: http://www.snapfashion.co.uk/
Jenny.

Touching Base and Drilling Down into Annoying Management Speak

Hello all,

Jenny here again.  Snap Fashion has had a great week, had some very exciting meetings, met our fellow Red Bull Stars and finally met Mobile Bob!

The Young Apprentice is back, so it’s the time of year when we begin to hear some fantastic buzzwords.  Frankly it scares me how driven these young people are – it seems like they’ve watched too much of the normal Apprentice: the girls are power dressing to the max and looking over 30, and the boys are rivalling Stuart Baggs “the brand”.

As well as running Snap Fashion, I’m a project manager.  This may be why I grimace so much when I watch the Apprentice, and also why I kick myself when I accidentally use the word “bandwidth” or “offline” in a context that is to do with people, not technology.  Here’s my list of the buzzwords that really rub me up the wrong way – what are yours?

Bandwidth – “Do they have the bandwidth for that?”  What happened to the days when we just asked if someone was busy?

In terms of – Some people slip this one into every second sentence.  In terms of annoyance, it’s rather high.

Going forward – Going forward, I’m going to ban this phrase.  Like, seriously.  We’re not having a meeting to discuss how to drive things backwards so stop stating the obvious!

Let’s take it offline – /* shudder */  For some reason this just sounds 10 times ruder and more ominous than just saying “I’ll chat to you about it later”.

Let’s touch base – And while we touch base we’ll discuss how to drive things forwards in terms of productivity.  Because we’re business people.

Thinking outside the box – I really need someone to tell me to think outside the box when I’m thinking of ideas.  Without these helpful, helpful words it would naturally constrain all of my thoughts.  Thank goodness you were there.

Hit the ground running – I’m not even going to justify this one.

Taking ownership – I have only ever, ever heard this phrase when something has gone horribly wrong.  It’s like being in the boardroom.

Snap Fashion Feature Update

Hi everyone,

Jenny here again.  I thought that this week, instead of being all opinionated, I would keep you all up-to-date on what is happening with Snap Fashion.  I’ll take you all the way back to the beginning…

I invented Snap Fashion while I was studying Computer Science at the University of Bristol.  It’s basically a visual search engine for fashion – if you see something that you like on the high-street, on the telly, in a magazine, on a celeb, or even on the catwalk, upload a picture to Snap Fashion and we’ll find you similar items in seconds.  Pretty simple really.

Since then the idea has evolved and the whole team is working extra hard to get Snap Fashion ready for launch.  The technology has evolved since graduating in 2009, and so has the functionality.  So, what are we going to be releasing?  Snap Fashion will be available on our website as well as a mobile app.  The bit that I’m personally really excited about is body shape analysis.  Now we can find you what you’re looking for, but tell you if it will suit you based on your body shape.  All we need is your picture and (for all of you sceptics out there) it’s all done automatically by my lovely algorithms.

As a business we’ve grown a huge amount, and Snap has gone being a one-man band to a group of people who are dedicated to getting it out there and (more importantly) making it as good as possible.  We don’t want to launch a geeky experiment – we want to launch the ultimate user experience, glossy, beautiful, and easy to use.  This is why we’re taking our sweet time about it, but never fear, it will be worth it in the end!  What’s the point in doing something if you don’t do it well?

If you’d like to get yourself on our beta tester list then check out the website: www.snapfashion.co.uk, and there’s a quick web form to fill in.  Don’t worry – we won’t spam or share your data!

Also worth a mention, we’re now open for our first round of investment after winning the Technology Strategy Board’s Tech City competition.  If you’re an investor and think that you can bring something to the team or fancy getting involved in the early stages of a truly awesome company (not at all biased) then get in touch!  You can find my email address on the website.

Any questions for the team?  Any features that you want to see?  Comment away – I do listen, promise!

Jenny.

When Are You An Entrepreneur?

Hi everyone,

Jenny here again, stealing airtime from important fashion happenings yet again.  Last week I wrote an opinion piece on Women in Technology and it seemed to ring true for quite a few people.  I’d love to hear your opinions on this week’s topic: What defines an entrepreneur and when can you claim that you are one?  In my opinion there are three schools of thought: You’re an entrepreneur when you try something, when you risk something, or when you make it.

You’re An Entrepreneur When You Try Something

“My son is now an ‘entrepreneur’. That’s what you’re called when you don’t have a job.”  A famous quote from founder of CNN and media mogul Ted Turner reveals that anyone can call themselves an entrepreneur, and the title is normally greeted with suspicion.  I think that we’ve all seen examples of this in real life, from seeing an old colleague describe themselves as an “entrepreneur extraordinare” on LinkedIn, to watching Lord Alan’s tribe of wannabe apprentices each year on the television.

But perhaps you deserve this title if you are the kind of person who is trying to change things and move things forward.  When I was younger I used to send letters off to big companies with my ideas in them, and I genuinely believed in them.  In fact I still do… Birds Eye Woofles (dog shaped waffles) and Heinz Baked Beanies (at the height of the TY craze) may well be my best ideas to date. There’s no denying that the spirit is there, but is it enough to merit the title?  Not in my opinion.

You’re An Entrepreneur When You Risk Something

So now we move it up to the next stage.  You’re giving up your job, you’re working 24/7 to get your ideas off the ground, you’re burning through your savings, calling in all sorts of favours and risking the money of people that you care about.  As Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop said, “nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is”.  To me, this is the truly scary bit about trying to start your own business.  Personally I’m happy to take the risk myself, but other people trusting you with their time or money, be it family, friends, colleagues or Angel investors, makes you want to make it work even more.  I can understand people calling themselves an entrepreneur at this stage, because there are relatively few people with enough faith in their product, the drive to make it work, and the guts to actually do this!  However, as Dragons’ Den normally proves, blind faith and entrepreneurship are different qualities.

You’re An Entrepreneur When You Make It

To me a true entrepreneur is someone who has been there, done it, and truly made it.  Say ‘entrepreneur’ and I think Mark Zucherberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sergey Brin – the list could go into the hundreds and everyone in it would be an inspiration to others trying to start their own business. The above are the people who I look up to.

So what am I?  Well, I’m definitely not in the last category!  I’d say that at the moment I’d say I am an inventor or a bit of a crazy engineer who believes in my idea and is trying everything to make my business work.  Give it time and hopefully I’ll be what I’d class as an entrepreneur.  What do you think?  Are you an entrepreneur?  Do you completely disagree?  Let me know!

Oh, and I really can’t end this opinion piece without quoting my favourite entrepreneur quote ever:

“The problem with the French is that they don’t have a word for entrepreneur.” – George W. Bush

Women in Technology

Hi everyone,

I’m Jenny, the founder of Snap Fashion.  Our editor Sarah is doing a fantastic job of keeping you up to date with all things fashion, but once in a while I’m going to chip in with my two cents on topics such as entrepreneurship, young start-ups and interesting technologies.  Today’s topic is not meant to be a feminist statement or to stir up a revolution: it’s a topic that genuinely interests me and gets me thinking about what the workforce of tomorrow will look like – Women in Tech.

I have a confession to make: I’m an engineer.  And no, I’m not male, over 60, with a taste for tank tops.  Also, let’s get this out of the way, I can’t fix your car.  I’m female, 24 and I don’t speak Klingon.  Although the above are examples of the more extreme viewpoints that I have encountered, the number of people (including myself) who do a double take when they see a female engineer is astounding.

Audio engineer

Believe it or not, this is not me.

This reaction is justified, as in 2010 only 9% of UK engineers were female.  So where are all of the women in technology, and why aren’t there more of us?  From my own personal experience I believe that the problem stems from perceptions embedded into us and older generations from a young age.

When picking my degree course I kept encountering the same argument.  People kept saying to me, “why do you want to be an engineer when you have the grades to do medicine?”  Well, honestly that’s because I faint at the sight of blood and I doubt that my sudden brainwaves and experimentations would be appreciated in surgery.  However, there seem to be certain career paths that are recommended to you if you are considered to be “bright” and female.  Why not become a doctor, a surgeon, an accountant, or a lawyer?  Well I ask you, why not become an engineer?  You get to become an expert in your field, experiment, innovate and career progression can be great.

The reason that I am so passionate about this subject is not because I’m striving for equality or whinging about opportunities for women, but because I genuinely believe that women bring something great to an engineering team.  It’s a well-known cliché, but women’s brains work differently to men’s.  The number of times at university when I would approach a project from a completely different direction from the rest of the room amused (and sometimes confused) me, but also ultimately got me noticed for being a bit of an ideas person and ultimately produced Snap Fashion.

There are some fantastic tech companies out there started up by women and run by women, and there are some real ambassadors out there for us to admire.  A few spring to mind: Natalie Massenet (founder of Net-A-Porter), Polyvore (founded by women for women), Sugru (magical fix-everything putty), Heather Harde (VP TechCrunch) and Marissa Mayer (VP Consumer Products for Google).

As I’ve been developing Snap and working for an engineering company, I can see things beginning to change.  I give some time to STEM, an organisation promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to school pupils choosing their options, and have enjoyed encouraging sixth form girls to buck the trend and go with their instincts to pursue engineering despite what their peers think.  There are other great organisations and sources of inspiration out there, such as Girl Geek Dinners (bringing together women in STEM careers), Lady Geek (fantastic tech blog which is not patronising), IEEE Women in Engineering (largest international professional organisation dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists) the Girl Geeks Charitable foundation (promoting all things STEM to girls).

It seems that times are changing.  I just hope that we do it in a non-patronising way that doesn’t single out the female engineers.

Barbie Engineer

I wonder how many young girls will be inspired by this Barbie?!

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