Birdee takes flight with revolutionary retail-focused facial recognition system
A pile of handwritten notes and a good memory were all luxury car salesperson Michael Huisinkveld had at his disposal to clinch a deal.
“I was one of the first salespeople for Tesla Motors in Germany and as our customer base started to grow, I started to struggle to remember all their names,” Michael recounts.
“There was no solution for it so I took a lot of notes but sometimes I’d have this awkward moment when I knew I should know the customer but their name wouldn’t come to me.”
The problem was one shared by salespeople and customer service staff the world over and one that gnawed away at Michael until he moved to Australia in 2015 to study entrepreneurship.
He’d become intrigued by the growing popularity of facial recognition technology and set about designing a customer-centric system with cameras at a store’s entrance identifying clients and instantly retrieving key information such as name, sales history and unique requests.
Conceding he’s “not a tech person”, Michael set about enlisting the help of tech-savvy classmate Ishan Dubey.
Their fledgling business, Birdee, soon took wings with Ishan tinkering with the technology while Michael investigated whether the market was big enough to support their big idea.
“It wasn’t long until we realised this was something we should really put some energy into,” Michael says.
“We started actively looking for an accelerator program to help us through that journey and that’s how we came across Collider.”
“The best thing about Collider was the cohort itself and being in a program with these nine other companies.”
“We had weekly catch ups which were organised but the unorganised stuff was just as valuable: those times when we’d work long days and there’d just be a few of us left in the office and we’d share what we were doing, try to lift each other up and if we had an issue, we could freely discuss it.”
During the three-month Collider Accelerator Program delivered by QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA), the duo was challenged to see if they could broaden Birdee’s retail-specific focus and started to gain traction in the events and security industries.
“We started to see the application in an events space — using our facial recognition platform for events registration — and in the security and access space, replacing a swipe card with a camera.”
“In the retail sector, our technology can be used to enhance services but in events, access and security spaces, it can replace systems all together and there’s a mass market for this.”
“We definitely don’t want to be just a security company though. The way we differentiate our product is that it should — and it always has to — add value to the end customer, the user.”
Michael and Ishan have spent the six months since completing Collider developing customer pipelines, finessing the technology, testing and trialling the product and taking it to market.
“We had a few setbacks during our trials but they helped us to refine our product, learn what customers wanted and really advance as a business.”
Birdee has already signed several customers across retail, events and security sectors and will spend 2019 rolling out its new system.
“In the long run I think facial recognition will become a more popular and more prevalent part of our lives and it will be everywhere,” Michael predicts.
Learn more about Birdee at: www.birdee.solutions
Register your interest for the 2019 CEA Collider Accelerator Program at: www.qutcea.com/collider