Founder of Kiwi tech start up who took on Amazon encourages other innovators with success story

Source: 1News

A Kiwi tech start up took on Amazon and is now shaping the future of shopping in Japan.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the way we shop has already changed. People panic shopped, queued outside, were let in one-by-one, we couldn't use cash and many turned to shopping online with deliveries.

A positive innovation emerging from the crisis though is Imagr - a company founded by William Chomley which helps people skip checkout lines by calculating what you buy in your trolley.

Cameras are installed on the trolleys which, like the human, see what you're putting in.

"There's no need for barcode scanning, for a customer the experience is seamless," Mr Chomley told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"They walk in, they grab a cart, they shop like normal, and then they can just walk out."

Imagr is a rival of one of the world's corporate giants, Amazon, but the rivalry didn't hold the business back, in fact Mr Chomley said it was "game on".

Imagr raised $14 million in its A-series funding round and got the nod from the Toshiba Tec Corporation. It's now being rolled out on the market in Japan, with its next release expected on May 11.

The small team of 33 in New Zealand and three in Japan did "pack a huge punch", Mr Chomley said.

"Amazon approaches it from a very capital intensive viewpoint, so thousands and thousands of overhead cameras, weighted shelves, cameras on the shelf, and what it does is it tracks you as you buy so every single hand movement, every gesture."

"They've got the capital to throw at this. For a New Zealand company we didn't have the luxury of this capital, we had to think about it differently and as a result we have retailers from around the world lining up to get hold of this ahead of Amazon," Mr Chomely explained, adding that Amazon had both big upfront costs as well as running costs of electricity and data.

"We are the low operational alternative but we provide the exact same solution."

He also said Imagr doesn't use facial data whereas the Amazon model grabs the customer's face as soon as they walk in and monitor every shopping transaction made.

"We've done well ... we have had some fantastic validation from the world's largest point of sale manufacturer, you know, they're looking at future proofing their businesses, obviously they took that into consideration when they invested."

Now, amid the tumultuous time for many businesses, Mr Chomely is encouraging other innovative Kiwis with his success story.

"Kiwis have always punched a lot above their weight and I believe that you take our solution, for example, we hadn't raised as much money, we had to view it differently, we had to think differently, and I believe New Zealand is well positioned to come out of the situation," he said.

"There's no reason why the next big tech giant or giants can't come out of New Zealand."