19. July 2012–
Berlin startup UPcload recently secured a six-figure sum from the Investment Bank Berlin (IBB)'s innovation funding programme ProFIT and is preparing to close a larger funding round with several new investors.
UPcload, founded by Sebastian Schulze and Asaf Moses (pictured below) in December 2010 and officially launched in Germany in April, helps users accurately estimate clothing sizes when shopping online.
Unlike some similar services, that use data and measurements provided by the user, UPcload sizes you up using your computer's webcam - you'll need to hold a CD or DVD in front of you as a sizing reference (this only needs to be done once). UPcload will then analyse the image, pull out relevant measurements and match them to its database of measurements for various clothing brands. Once you've calibrated the service and logged in, size recommendations will then appear as a button or widget on partner retailer sites, which include Workaholic and Shirts on the Fly.
The new funding from IBB - part grant, part loan - will help UPcload continue R&D to improve its measurement techniques; the still-to-be-formalised upcoming funding round will be used to take the company "to the next level", push sales and hire more developers.
So far, the company has been funded by various business angels and startup funding programmes, including about €1m just from grants and prizes.
Since going live, UPcload has focused on building in user feedback, improving design and making the service more user-friendly. The team are now gearing up for more of a sales push, with an emphasis on building a strong network of partner brands. Existing partner brands include The North Face (part of the VF Corporation, also including Lee and Wrangler) - the more brands in the database, the easier it is for UPcload to bring on partner retailers.
In future, Schulze said, UPcload should also be able to recommend items and brands that will fit you better than others - if you're a "slim fit", for example, you might try Diesel. The team are in the process of exploring market potential in the US. "We're finding out if it makes sense to go there."
The development team for the photo measurement technology is based in Tel Aviv, led by former Compugen CEO Dr Mor Amitai and Dr Naomi Keren.
IBB's ProFIT programme provides grants and "soft" loans with favourable conditions to Berlin-based businesses that carry out R&D. Madvertise, Sponsorpay and PressMatrix are among other companies to have won funding from the programme.