1. Overview of mAy-I Inc.
mAy-I develops video-processing AI that helps data-based, decision-making in offline environments. Online stores already collect data on all the visitors and try to improve the stores based on that data. However, even though there are much more data to collect than online stores, offline stores are not able to collect or analyze data and they have to rely on merchandisers intuitions. This means that offline stores can make data-based decisions.
mAy-I is trying to solve this problem by digitalizing the offline spaces using video-processing AI. We use videos for 2 reasons. Unlike sensor-based data that use Wi-Fi or Beacon, videos contain all of the information that happen in the frames and can collect all of the visible data. Second, most offline spaces already have video-processing infrastructure like security cameras. We can use existing CCTVs to test and expand our service more easily.
From videos captured on existing and additionally installed CCTVs, we can analyze the data to figure out the number of visitors, their gender and age groups and how long they’ve linger at specific spots. We offer population statistics like visitors counts, gender and age groups with 97% accuracy. Our service improves as these statistics accumulate.
The data analyzed using our AI is provided through a product called mAsh-Board. mAsh-Board is a web dashboard that helps the users improve their offline spaces using visitor data. The users can analyze the data using the filters, comparative analysis, heatmap and reporting features on mAsh-Board.
We are constantly accumulating data through PoC projects with various companies and are trying to develop more universal products. We are currently supplying solutions to major clients like LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group, Megabox and Eland Retail.
2. Company Background
I believe that all decision-making must be done based on data. And I believe that, thanks to technological advances and changes in customer needs, data-based decision-making is becoming more prevalent in areas that have not been managed based on data.
Before starting mAy-I, I ran a social start-up called Virus (Value Influencer to Rocket & Uprise Start-Up). The start-up organized offline events to allow young people like college students who are interested in starting a business to share their concerns and experiences. Running Virus, I operated what’s called Virus Network and, planned and ran various events like start-up conferences for college students and start-up camps for high school students.
Data-based decision-making was also very important in running these offline events. I had to know who is participating in these events and what they are interested in to organize better events next time. But in those days, in order to collect data, all I had was surveys. And this felt outdated and inefficient. I was studying multimedia computing and AI in my graduate school and thinking that I could use what I know to solve the problem, I eventually started mAy-I.
And after starting mAy-I, I’ve realized there are greater needs in the retail sector than in offline events and I’ve been focusing on developing solutions that can be used in the retail sector. But, in the long run, I want to develop solutions for all types of offline environments.
3. mAy-I’s Strengths and Differentiating Factors
Most products in the market for offline space data analysis are sensor-based solutions. Strictly speaking, these products do not acquire information about people but the information in the devices the people carry around. And these solutions cannot provide us sufficient amount of information as accurately as we want. Also, other video-based solutions process data with algorithms instead of AI so in terms of data accuracy and variety, our solutions which are based on AI, are much more competitive and advanced solutions.
Also, our products purely focus on video-processing and are not dependent on hardware. Our solutions can be used for any type of CCTVs and since most places already have CCTVs installed, our customers can use our solutions without any construction or installation work.
4. Most Memorable Moment?
My personal reason for running a start-up is to do what I want to do with the people I like. And I’m happiest when my team members tell me that they enjoy working at mAy-I.
Business-wise, I’m most proud whenever we prove our philosophy that data-based decision-making is essential for offline spaces. After analyzing visitor data with those managing their offline spaces using our mAsh-Board and seeing improvements from data after changing the spaces based on the data mAsh-Board provides, we feel happy. Also, when our customers tell us that our solution has helped them improve their spaces, we feel happy. And, for the same reason, we felt really happy about the Hyundai Motor Group showroom analysis PoC which we carried out through ZER01NE.
5. Business Accomplishments
We’re still a young start-up that is less than 2 years old but we are comprised of the best and we are growing fast. We are comprised of 18 members and we provide solutions to LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group, Megabox, Eland Retail and many other companies that understand the importance of managing offline space data. We’ve received investments from tech accelerators like Neoply and FuturePlay and also from Eland Retail and IGIS Asset Management which are leaders in the retail and real estate sectors, respectively. We are also going to start the next round of crowdfunding based on our progress and achievements so far.
6. What Inspires You While Running a Business?
I get inspired from my wonderful team members. I’m thankful to be working with people that are smarter and capable than I am. I’m also trying my best to not become a CEO that cannot keep pace with the speed of the company’s growth.
7. Advice for Those Preparing to Start a Business
This is also the reason why I’m running a startup but startups are great because you can do a business you want to do with the people you want to work with. The motto of my previous startup was “Not everyone needs to start a business but starting a business can be one of the most wonderful choices a person can make.”
It hasn’t been that long for me either but what came to my mind running a startup was that while running a startup, that startup becomes your first priority. I honestly love my company and what I do but if you are not prepared for this, running a startup will not be easy. If you’re preparing to start a business, think about whether you can truly love the company and what you do.
8. What Are Your Business Plans and Vision for the Future and Your Thoughts on ZER01NE?
Our belief that data-based decision-making is essential for offline spaces, will become true in near future. And to prepare that future, we will continue developing our solutions.
We are happy that we are able to work with ZER01NE which is the best open innovation platform. We were able to carry out a PoC project with Hyundai Motor Group through ZER01NE and we are currently discussing how we can expand that project. Talking to ZER01NE managers, we also felt that they are thinking about what’s best for us and for that, we are very grateful. We were able to grow as a company thanks to ZER01NE and we want to repay the support we’ve been given as soon as possible.