Syte, an Israeli startup that powers visual search features for ecommerce companies, has raised $21.5 million in a series B round of funding led by Viola Ventures, with participation from Storm Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Axess Ventures, and all previous investors.
Founded out of Tel Aviv in 2015, Syte has developed visual AI technology that retailers can use to enhance search inside their applications. For example, a clothing retailer may want to allow its customers to search using a photograph that they snapped in the real world, rather than through using category filters or descriptive keywords. Or the retailer may want to integrate a recommendation engine into their app that suggests other items or similar-looking goods.
Visual search is already being used by some of the biggest names in digital, including eBay, which allows users to find similar items using photos, while Pinterest has also developed many features around such computer vision. And similar to what Syte offers retailers, European online fashion giant Asos also offers visual search through its suite of apps.
Any company can develop its own visual search system, of course, but it is a resource-intensive process — and that is where Syte comes into play. Through its APIs, companies can access visual search tools without having to develop the technology themselves. The company’s clients include Farfetch, Marks & Spencer, Boohoo, and Tommy Hilfiger, while it’s also powering native visual search on Samsung devices in some markets.
“We have a vision to transform product discovery, and thus the ecommerce experience, for both retailers and consumers,” noted Syte cofounder and CEO Ofer Fryman. “For us, the validation of our technology and product development has come from our clients, who have selected Syte to help them stay competitive in the fast-evolving retail industry. With this round we look forward to expanding our product offering in order to support our clients in more aspects of their digital innovation.”
Other use cases for Syte’s technology include so-called “deep tagging,” with AI automatically assigning descriptive labels to retailers’ catalog items, such as color, material, and features.
Prior to now, Syte had raised around $10 million, and with another $21.5 million in the bank, it said that it plans to expand its support for visual search into new scenarios around personalization.
The company also opened a new office in New York City back in July, with plans for an additional San Francisco hub before the end of 2019, and expects to make 70 new hires over the next year.
“Rarely do we find companies that have managed to solve a technological problem that tech giants have been working for years to solve without success,” added Viola Ventures partner Ronen Nir. “The feedback from the market is clear and swift and the rate of adoption of Syte’s solution is unparalleled.”