Startup Spotlight – Qoture – August 2012
Startup of the Week – Qoture
Clothing is currently the largest single online retail sector, estimated to be worth $30 billion a year in the US alone. However, one in five garments purchased online are returned which costs the US online apparel industry about 6 billion.
Qoture aims to reduce that by over 75% by extracting measurements from photographs so you can purchase the right clothing size.
We recently caught with Qoture’s Master Chief, Oliver Leung to learn more.
How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Was there an “ah-ha” moment?
My sister was talking about how the clothes I bought her didn’t fit. As I was listening to her complaints, I was watching the Terminator and at that moment, the Terminator walks into a bar, naked. He also needed clothes that fit. It’s a universal problem that spans gender and time. The solution: optical body scanners (or anthropometric photogrammetry). So I took the idea to my professor to see if it was possible and voila! Qoture was born.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
It takes a team of computer science experts to overcome the technical challenges. We wanted to create a body scanner that was simple to use, mobile and ubiquitous. Instead of using a large airport body scanner that costs tens of thousands of dollars, we decided to use a device we already have in our pockets: the cell phone camera.
Our next challenge is to introduce Qoture to the world.
Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help to your startup?
Friends and family, and also the Canadian government has been great in supporting through grants like Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) and Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) from the National Research Council. We’ve been working inside the lab in stealth mode for a bit and we’re at the point where we can showcase our technology.
Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent?
Finding the right talent is more challenging because people are dynamic and we have to harness the right skills and motivation to move forward. Capital is a byproduct of what we do
Look within your network. Calgary is a fairly small space, so be sure to ask. Network, go to events, connect with people and share your story. The same goes for capital.
We’re launching Qoture on Kickstarter this week because we don’t have to give up equity and being associated with their brand will be huge for us.
What has contributed to your success to this point?
Our team of Rockstars. Define your idea and concept. Fail often, fail fast and fail hard. Failure is just a part of success and we’ve been through a lot of that already.
What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?
We want to make a dent in this world. Personally, I want to look back on my life and know that I helped make this world a better place.
What are your thoughts on Calgary’s startup community?
Calgary’s startup community is like a family – there’s always a familiar face. But it’s always important to visit the extended family in the Valley.
What’s your ask right now? What do you and your startup need?
We’re raising $40K in 40days & 40 nights on Kickstarter this week, so check us out: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/qoture/qoture-the-app-that-sizes-you-up. We’re also looking for retail partners.
Lloyed Lobo covers Calgary’s tech startup community. He is a Partner at Boast Capital and the VP of Community Evangelism at Startup Calgary.
If you are working on something that could potentially change the world, we’d like to hear about it. Send us a tweet at @startupcalgary or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.