Over the past couple of years, one of the biggest emerging buzzwords in e-commerce is personalisation, which can be prohibitively expensive for a company starting from scratch. Eindhoven-based tech startup Expivi wants to create something that is accessible and uses 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) as a way to personalise the shopping experience.
Founded in 2017 by Babak Mohammad Mirzaie, Jur Rademakers, and Siamak Mohammad Mirzaie, Expivi is a simple-to-use cloud-based platform that revolutionises online shopping practices. It’s an interactive and visual platform which generates an immersive shopping experience with the help of instant 3D configurations and AR (augmented reality). In 2019, the Dutch company also secured a multimillion investment from Scholt Group to further accelerate international growth. Recently, Expivi’s co-founder Babak Mirzai spoke to us about their journey.
3D experience to e-commerce
Everything and everyone is vying for your attention, and online retailers and B2B companies are no exception. They want customers to keep coming back for more. “At the moment, the only way you can experience a product is with 2D images. If you want to change the colour or the size, say from medium to large, the image stays the same. However, our tool enables you to view a product in 3D that replaces standard product images and offers a new 360° shopping experience. You can zoom in and out, and look at it from all angles. If you change the size of your clothing, the image changes size too. This allows people to easily visualise and personalise products in 3D and AR,” says Mirzaie.
The software as a service (SaaS) that Expivi brings to the market is unique and the company believes it could have a major impact on e-commerce. Users can log in themselves and easily set up and apply projects. The platform offers several plugins that can be integrated with numerous e-commerce systems and is suitable for desktop, tablet and mobile.
Starting out: The inspiration
Babak and his brother both started their careers within the gaming industry, and in 2016 they wanted to do something a bit more serious. “We met an architect who was looking for real estate solutions and was struggling with it. We wanted to visualise what the future looked like, using data and 3D technology to communicate with customers,” says Babak.
They used WebGL technology to make a product that was user-friendly and created software that lets users virtually walk around in a building and see their new home. “This was an eye-opener – people want more personalisation and everyone has to start from zero. It can be expensive,” says Mirzaie. They sold on the software, and the rest is history.
Funding isn’t easy
In the beginning, Mirzaie and his brother were using their savings and money that they earned. At the time they were in a coworking space and Jur Rademakers was their neighbour. Paul Schrama, the founder of Edubookers introduced them to Jur, who was interested in what they were doing. When he came on board, Babak felt the change. “We’re like the three musketeers. My brother is the brains, I’m marketing, and Jur has experience with SAAS solutions. Investors aren’t usually willing to take a risk. They don’t see what you’re going to be in 2 years. They only look at base revenue. We found a partner who believes in us and our future. It means we are able to scale and go faster,”
The road to the Blue Tulip awards
In 2017, Expivi entered and won the Dell for Entrepreneurs awards, and as they worked more closely together, Dell suggested that Expivi should participate in the Blue Tulip awards which was then Accenture Innovation Awards. They entered in the work and living category, and ended up winning. Babak is competitive, and got inspired by the other entrants. “I was amazed. I saw people pitching involved with technology. I was touched by the whole event, and I thought ‘how do I get there? How do I win?” Said Babak. He managed to crack the code, and Expivi came in first place for their category.
Winners in the work and living category 2018
Winning helped Expivi in a lot of ways. “If you’re able to be recognised by Accenture, it’s a statement. You can use that recognition for your sales pitch,” said Mirzaie. Another bonus was the exposure. “You meet great C-level people who are almost impossible to get in touch with. They can introduce you to the right person and help you to grow.” Said Babak.
Since its inception, Expivi has grown from a concept to a fully-fledged platform; its multinational customers already include names such as L’Oréal, Villeroy & Boch and Lancôme. There is a plug-in available for large webshop systems such as Lightspeed, Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce. Expivi develops plug-ins for all webshop systems, making them available as plug & play tools. Moving on, the company plans to expand its activities and invest in its partnerships with Salesforce and SAP. Offices will soon be set up in America, Germany and France to serve the increasing interest from these markets. Expivi aims to add a new dimension to e-commerce.
Babak is very clear on what he wants for the future. “In the same way that people associate Uber for taxis, AirBNB for holiday rentals, I want Expivi to be the thing people associate with e-commerce,” he said. “We’d like to focus first on SAP and Salesforce customers and later next year we can pay more attention to other platform users such as Magento and Shopify” Mirzaie said.
Expivi has plans to open their US office at the end of the year, and Germany and France are planned for 2020. Meanwhile, in Eindhoven they are expanding too. “We’ve grown from 6 people to 25 people in the last year and the goal is to grow to 30 people this year. Next month we’ll move to a new office in one of the most beautiful towers in Eindhoven so that our staff have more room to be creative” Babak said.
Apply now for the Blue Tulip Awards 2020
“If you are innovative, have an out of the box solution and you’re looking to communicate to the world, this is the place for you,” said Mirzaie the Blue Tulip Awards. “Show why you’re different and why everyone should get to know you. If you want to be able to grow quickly, you need customers, and because of the network you come into contact with people that are normally difficult to meet.” he said.
“Present with passion and show that you are behind it, tell your story from a user’s (customer) point of view – why do they need you and what can you add instead of how great your idea is. Listen to feedback and never be too proud to change something if it doesn’t work. And practice your pitch a lot, you only have 60 seconds to impress”.
Do you have what it takes? There’s still time to apply for the Blue Tulip Awards 2020. Innovative startups who are based in Europe get to compete in several different categories to win several prizes at different events throughout the year, including an acceleration package and a media campaign. Do you want to be a part of it? Find out more and sign up here.