Love fancy nail designs but not sure how they would look on your fingers? Not a problem. Korean startup Saltus Corp. is now offering customers the chance to try nail art stickers virtually through its app Picknail. Based on deep machine learning and Augmented Reality (AR), Saltus Corp is all set to revolutionize the world of nail art beauty. Saltus Corp. was founded in February 2017.
In an interview to koreatechdesk.com, JungChul Park, Co-CEO, Saltus Corp., shared the vision of the company which is to redefine the online shopping experience through AR and VR technology
1. Can you please describe your company?
We started two years ago. I and my partners met at the C-lab, Samsung Electronics Incubator program. As we were working on a few projects, we really enjoyed working together. So we decided to form a team and start a company. At first, we developed an AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) device, and later on, started Picknail which is an app for nail art stickers and incorporated the AR into it.
2. Please share your company’s vision.
We are a deep learning solution company that specializes in computer vision technologies. We aim to redefine online e-commerce experience with cutting edge deep learning-based AR/VR solutions that bring off-line shopping experience into online e-commerce
3. Can you share what kind of challenges you are facing and trying to solve?
Currently, when you buy nail art stickers offline, you can feel the product and put it on top of your finger to see how it would look. However, when it comes to online, you can only see the design but you don’t know how it is going to look on your finger. So we are trying to bring that offline shopping experience to online by enabling customers to put nail stickers on their fingers virtually before they purchase so they may have a better idea of the product.
4. How is the market opportunity for such a venture?
The nail art market size is about $1.60 billion in Korea alone, and the nail stickers market size was $120 million in 2017-18. The market has increased three times so we predict that the market will continue to grow in Korea and worldwide year after year. The nail art market is definitely growing faster than any other beauty market. Most of current AR technologies are used in makeup or hair products but compared to those fields AR technology in nail art is more suitable because there is less variable to consider. So it is convincing to the customers. It is also feasible so we find it more suitable to nail art because of its simplicity.
5. How much are the customers willing to pay for this service?
Since it’s a platform, we cannot accurately estimate the market possibility. However, the market is definitely growing, and customers will need our AR nail art solution more and more. As we close the gap between online and offline shopping experiences with our technology, we will be able to channel offline customers online, which will expand the e-commerce market.
6. Can you please share how did you come up with this idea? Please tell us about the company’s background.
In the beginning, we were developing a hand detection interface for VR environment. As we were working on it, we realized that the market for VR interaction or interface devices was not big enough. So we looked for other problems we can solve with our technology. Since we specialize in analyzing hand motions and features, we figured that nails are a very good pivoting point. We conclude that the nail market is quite sizable and that our technology was well suited to serve the consumer’s needs and the problems that the market faces.
7. What is unique about what you are doing? Is it the founders or strategy, etc?
One of our strengths is the nail art sticker database we collected over the course. With this dataset, we created efficient indexing or searching solution for nail art sticker. The other strength is the virtual experience of how the nail will look and this solves the problem for both customer and supplier
8. What have you learned so far? What is your insight into this field?
As we transitioned from hand motion detection solution to AR solution, we realized AR and e-commerce can be well combined and has a huge potential. With this technology, we are hoping to build market dominance in the nail art industry and as the technology improves, we will move to other markets such as rings or watches.
9. Please tell me about the funding? How much money have you raised so far?
When we started at C-lab, Samsung Electronics venture startup, we got some funding from Samsung Venture Investment. Since then we have been getting funds from government projects or assignments. Even though we don’t have any revenues yet, through all the government assignments, we have gained a lot of technological innovation and break-through in the field of computer vision, AR, VR, even some part of the hardware.
10. So what milestone do you need to hit before your next round of funding?
We are planning to launch the official version in early October and our goal is to garner at least 50,000 users within a year. After we achieve this goal we are planning to move to other nail product markets such as self nail or nail care products. Also, we are hoping to move to global markets such as Japan and North America.
11. If an investor invests in your company today, then how is it going to help your company?
The first thing we will do is marketing and branding as people don’t really know about our service, Picknail. We need to market so that we can get more users. Our unique skill is our AR solution. The next step is to improve our AR solution to make it more realistic, more beautiful. We are trying to decrease this gap between online and off-line experience – this is going to be our main goal. So, we need to hire more data scientist, deep learning engineers, front end and back end developers, etc.
12. The AR area is tough as there are similar companies trying to do e-commerce but few have succeeded. So why do you think a tech-based company has failed in this area?
Most of the companies have tried the AR experience or e-commerce in make-up art but the problem with makeup market is that it is very conservative and people are loyal to their brands. They are very hesitant to change their brand which makes it very difficult to convince people to change their minds. But the unique thing about nail art is that consumers are very lenient, and willing to try various brands as long as it looks good on their nails. Consumers are also open to trying it as it doesn’t cost much that’s why nail AR is more effect on the consumer than any other beauty AR solutions. The barrier is a lot lower as people can be convinced more easily.
13. What are your goals for the next 5 years?
The first step is that we dominate the nail sticker market and then move on to other nail products such as self-nail or nail care market. In the process, we will enhance our AR solution. Also, we want to get involved in the manufacturing and retailing area because even in the nail sticker market most retailers or manufacturers have a problem in inventory. With all the data we have, we can create services that serve DIY or self-nail then we can create a different market. When our AR solution becomes more advanced, we can move to other products such as ring and watches. We can sell our AR solutions to drugstore or supermarkets. Eventually, we want to dominate the AR/VR commerce solution segment.
14. About this nail sticker app, when users order nail sticker do you deliver this product or does the manufacturer send it to the customer? How does this work?
Currently, we are just channeling the user to the sellers’ website. We don’t have anything to do with manufacturing or delivering. However, we are planning to make a contract with big and small sellers such as Gelato or Dashing Diva. The next step is the DIY market so people can put up their own designs and other users can crowdfund. Then our company can create a market for the designers as well.