Shopping should not have that far to go to be the leading area of innovation on the internet. Yet, we all seem to know people who refuse to shop online. Whether or not that's a bad thing, we don't know. What we do know is that there is so much innovation available to the retail market these days, and that several BizSpark companies are offering that service style up to chains and outlets. Shopperception is a case in point. Shopperception is a startup with offices in Argentina and US, working to provide innovative technology to the retail industry. The company generates analytics and events on shopper’s activities in front of the shelf for the off-line retail industry. They use Microsoft Kinect to capture shopper actions with proprietary algorithms and send all the data to the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure for later reporting. They also generate actions to modify the shopper behavior based on their activities (like offering contextual advertising, coupons, promotions).
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
If you are building a solution where any of the market dynamics is unknown (customers, size, composition, business model, pricing, etc) or your technology is disruptive, you should build and test for revenue. It make no sense to build for scale and find later that nobody is interested in your solution or willing to pay for it.
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
They are part of the business strategy meetings since the inception. In our startup, my partner and CTO Raul Verano, participates in all the high level discussions about the business model. Some of our business assumptions are related to technical matters and his contribution in those discussions is invaluable. We try to challenge our hypothesis and plans as hard as we can and different backgrounds (business, technical, service) add more value to the table.
We sat down with CEO and Co-Founder Ariel Di Stefano and asked him how all of this came to be.
Ariel Di Stefano, CEO and Co-Founder
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world? We started our entrepreneurship journey in Argentina, in a garage like office, with a few dreams.
We aim to show the world that with a good idea, a great execution and a lot of perseverance anyone can change an entire industry form anywhere (even Argentina).
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
Microsoft support was amazing from the first minute. All the azure team support was unique. We found always a response to any technical or business questions and a truly and honest support in building your business around MS technology.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Microsoft has cutting edge technology and lot of people dedicated to help startups all along the path since the idea to the growing stage. Partnering with Microsoft is the best way to leverage your startup resources.
Tell us about your Azure based solution.
We capture people behavior in front of shelves. We capture everyone, all the time, all over the world so we have lots of data to handle. Capture points are computers installed on stores that individually send data to the cloud. We need to store and analyze this data, and make it available to our clients through a web portal. This kind of processing demands high levels of availability, reliability and performance, and azure seemed like the perfect fit for our needs.
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
We use Service Bus queues and Blob Storage to receive discrete packets of behavior data and pictures from our capture points distributed all around the world and put all the packets together in table storage which is a perfect fit for the amount and kind of data we handle. Then we process and analyze that data to create metrics, indices and summarizations, which we store in SQLAzure databases. Finally our clients get the reports through our web portal that consumes data from a series of web and worker roles, serving the SQLAzure data in summarized form or in raw to do their own analysis.
How did you get excited about Azure?
We were introduced to Azure before we started the development process, and Azure has a lot of startup-friendly plans that give small companies access to world class cloud platform and all the support to build on top of that.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Our previous experience in .NET and Microsoft tools.
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
Cost is not the only factor. You should analyze the vendor history, the commitment to the platform and the ecosystem that is developing around it.
Other Videos of product demonstration can be viewed here: