On behalf of Genesis, I’m excited to announce our investment in SmartLens. SmartLens leverages image recognition technology to identify products in the physical world and empower users to purchase them online.
Text-based search, the backbone of the world’s most powerful and widely used search engines and products, is beginning to yield to a future unconstrained by contextual knowledge on the part of the user due to technologies made possible by advances in AI and cloud infrastructure. Instead of searches which require the physical writing of queries, SmartLens is empowering a user experience that truly puts knowledge at the user’s fingertips through the use of a smartphone camera.
SmartLens provides a simple iOS app that quickly identifies objects of various shapes, sizes, and contexts and provides links for learning more and/or purchasing the item being searched. Replacing imprecise and inconvenient text-based searches, SmartLens eliminates a great deal of friction in the consumer purchasing process and brings myriad information even closer to smartphone users through a powerful image recognition technology.
SmartLens was founded by Michael Royzen. The idea for Smart Lens came to Michael because, as an avid runner, he encountered various plants on the trails he frequented and wanted to have an app that could tell him the exact species and taxonomy of them. He soon realized the potential of an app that could leverage image recognition technology to deliver such specific results for flora, fauna, and the rest of the physical world .
Michael Royzen (Computer Science ’22) — Michael serves as the CEO of SmartLens. Michael previously worked at Microsoft as a research intern. While at Microsoft, he worked on AI solutions for businesses and created an app that uses machine learning to estimate the future monetary value of specific clients. He has also created several mobile apps in the past that had a strong technical focus.
Michael has since brought on a friend, Michelle Gelman, to assist with marketing.
How’re They Doing?
To-date, the SmartLens team has been highlighted in Forbes and a variety of other publications for their impressive technical achievements. The SmartLens app is already available on the app store and has already begun converting paid users from the free trial version. Recently, Michael added barcode functionality to the app which should greatly increase the accuracy of searches and repurchasing of products, opening up a variety of avenues for future monetization. The team, which includes Computer Science Sophomore Michele Gelman, is also exploring an B2B deal with a local company that would utilize part of its core algorithm for a significant partnership fee.
Why I Led This Deal by Daniel Miyares, Venture Partner
Like many of the most successful venture funds, Genesis invests in founders. From the beginning, Royzen’s passion for the space and significant technical prowess was quite evident. I was more impressed, however, by how willing the team was to take our feedback as well as insights from their user base in order to refine their strategic and product roadmaps. SmartLens is not only more agile than most larger competitors, but their core algorithm outperforms significantly more well-funded image search products on several key tests. At the onset of the due diligence process, I was intrigued but not wholly convinced that image-based search was even worth investing in — now I feel compelled to support the two-person team that I believe might just beat the incumbents at their own game. SmartLens’ fast-moving team, excellent execution, and compelling long-term vision inspired Genesis to fund this venture.