Glimpse nets €400,000 funding and sets sights on more

Audience analysis start-up uses AI to collect in-person ‘user data’ from shoppers in bricks-and-mortar stores

Oran Mulvey and Shane O’Sullivan, co-founders of Glimpse have received the backing of both angel investors and Enterprise Ireland

An audience analysis firm whose technology allows retailers to learn who their customers are and what they want has netted €400,000 in investor funding for a Dublin company.

Glimpse, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to capture customer data anonymously, has received the backing of both angel investors and Enterprise Ireland.

The investment is part of a rolling seed round that could allow the Dublin start-up to raise up to €1 million this year, according to Oran Mulvey and Shane O’Sullivan, its co-founders.

“We have about €400,000 already from Enterprise Ireland and two angel syndicates in Ireland and we had been looking for an additional €215,000, but that has now risen to €1 million,” Mulvey said. “With everything going on with Covid-19, our investors want to put in more money than they had initially planned to help us ride out this storm.”

Glimpse tracks customer behaviour anonymously in shops and can help bricks-and-mortar retailers to better understand who their customers are and what they respond well to in-store.

“We use video analytics to understand who these shoppers are, their gender and age, and then to look at what they do when they shop,” O’Sullivan said.

“What are the hotspots they're spending the most time in and how is that translating into actual spend? What is their level of engagement, their journey, what is the average time spent in the store? Glimpse can even anonymously measure their loyalty, so we know that if you have 1,000 people in your store today, 200 of them were here yesterday or the day before.”

According to Mulvey, this kind of information can help stores to compete more effectively with their e-commerce counterparts, who already have access to vast quantities of granular data on online customers.

“E-commerce operators offer customers convenience, but they also have the opportunity to collect consumer data,” he said.

“We're trying to give the same levels of consumer data to brick-and-mortar retailers, so they can use it for everything from layout and product placements, to staffing operations or sales and marketing activities. We want to be the science behind all these different touch points, so that retailers can genuinely increase customer spend, loyalty and footfall.”

O’Sullivan said the primary target market for Glimpse would be bigger retail chains operating at least 20 outlets.

“We’re looking mainly at chain stores, the likes of Tesco, SuperValu and Applegreen, because the more data points you have and the bigger the audience, the more valuable our information becomes,” he said.

Mulvey said the company was already working with about 15 convenience, grocery and high-street retailers in the Republic and the North.

“We had planned to complete a nationwide case study by the end of this year, so we could go to the US with that war chest behind us, but that plan has now been slightly delayed,” he said.

Mulvey and O’Sullivan met when both attended The Kings Hospital School in Dublin. They set up Glimpse in 2017 as an ad-tech venture, trading initially as OSBPP.

OSBPP used facial and skeletal recognition software in digital out-of-home advertising screens to capture the demographics of passers-by and facilitate interactive displays.

“We were using skeletal tracking cameras to create ads. People would walk in front of the screens and their movements would be synced interactively with one of the characters in the display,” O’Sullivan said.

“We realised pretty quickly that the same technology would be more suited to video-profiling analytics in retail, so we took our technology in a very different direction and launched Glimpse in mid-2018.”

Glimpse is a high potential start-up client of Enterprise Ireland (EI).

“Our journey with EI started back in 2018 with their New Frontiers training scheme,” Mulvey said. “When we started to pivot back in 2018, they connected us with individuals who could really help our business and introduced us to a mentor with experience in the industry we wanted to get into.”