The whole tech world is disproportionally dominated by men, though women account for half of the human population. According to certain statistics, in the US, only 16% of the founders are women, 7% of VC investors are women and just 2% of the VC fundings go to women founders. These intimidating numbers do not mean women should give up, but try harder.
The Chinese women are reputedly defined as smart, or even much smarter than men, sometimes. Hence a small number of them are determined to make their mark in the American tech scene, especially cracking a niche vertical: fashion/beauty/retail, because women tend to have innate zeal and talent in these areas. Here come three very encouraging examples.
-Linc Global – customer service automation
There has been no shortage of startups specializing in AI customer service chatbot nowadays. But Linc Global might be worthy of your further attention if you are interested in lessening the burden of customer service in the fashion sector. Fang Cheng is the founder and CEO behind. She finished her undergraduate study from one of China’s most prestigious universities, Fudan, then pursued her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics at New York University. Having gained sufficient capitals through her financial career, she became a serial entrepreneur. In 2014, she established Linc Global in San Francisco, and the startup has been growing on the right track.
The founder claimed her platform has already served over 22 million unique shoppers on behalf of more than 80 brands. The solution can automate 70% of the essential customer inquiries, assisting them through proactive communication and on-demand response via any communication channels, whether chat or voice.
One very successful client case is Techstyle Fashion Group which owns 5 online subscription e-commerce sites such as JustFab, Shoedazzle etc. Techstyle said after less than 6 months full-scale rollouts, Linc achieved some of the very convincing KPIs for its membership service management.
Currently, Linc is developing Botlet Framework, by unifying customer data from different interaction channels, it is able to understand customer’s sentiment, context, preference, purchase history, then engage each customer with unique brand expertise and content.
–Markable – image recognition and visual search
Image recognition and visual searching are nothing new, and most of these startups, if not all, seem run of the mill. But it does not stop one Chinese woman joining the bandwagon. So meet our woman founder #2 Joy Tang, who showed her mathematical talent in her early days by winning a gold medal at the Math Olympics during her second-year high school in China. Such brilliance got her accept at MIT and upon graduation she landed herself a job in a high-frequency trading firm in Chicago. For 6 years she had been receiving 7 figures paycheck, with which she was getting bored. So after a bit soul searching, she followed her passion for fashion and became an entrepreneur for Markable in 2014 in New York.
Her blog for the product introduction is oozing out self-confidence, asserting her solution can turn any photo and video into a virtual shopping mall through computer vision by identifying 50 objects in a single image under half second while matching its 10 million+ product database; basically outperforming all the leading players in the market.
Last year she stood on the center stage for a Chinese live TV show “I am unicorn”, pitching in front of a bunch of famous local VCs, and making bold statement of her supremacy in fashion computer vision compared with internet giant Baidu. All the guest VCs on the show immediately threw doubts. Only one man, CEO of China Cheetah mobile, chose to invest in her startup later on. So far she manages to raise a total of USD4.5 million seeding stage from investors like Japan Infinity Ventures, Plug and Play etc.
–Proven- B2C AI personalized skincare
Proven is a two years old startup based in San Francisco co-founded by two Chinese female entrepreneurs. Both born and raised in China, one founder is Ming S. Zhao, MBA from Harvard Business, who had her stint in private equity and consulting; the other one is Amy Zaoshi Yuan, with a solid background in data science trained by Stanford. As formidable as the two women might sound, both are actually struggling with their own skin issues and believe customization should be the right solution. That was how they conceptualized their company.
It is said their AI solution has crawled and analyzed over 8 million product reviews and testimonials. But what is really impressive is they deployed fraud detection algorithm to eliminate fake reviews, saving time for consumers as the average person spends 45 minutes to 1.5 hours researching online feedbacks before they buy any beauty product. On top of that, Proven also curates a database of more than 4,000 research articles covering 20,000+ ingredients in skincare. So ultimately it is able to offer customers truly personalized recommendations by combining authentic reviews and reliable science.
Though the destiny of startups always remains uncertain, we should at least give our cheers to these female founders along their diffcult road.
Author: Cecilia Wu