LCF’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise is working with six new fashion technology businesses as part of a project called Fashion and Technology Emerging Futures, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The project vision is to support the new eco-system emerging in London, recognising the convergence of fashion and technology SMEs. We talked to Jayant Kumar of shoppable social network Teggnet about his business, artificial intelligence and democratising e-commerce.
What does Teggnet do?
Teggnet is a search engine, powered by human-intuitive AI to deliver relevant results based on user profiles. Teggnet platform utilises user-generated content and makes it shoppable directly from images and videos – a whole new approach to discovering trends, product recommendations and shopping.
Teggnet brings an unparalleled e-commerce experience allowing users to discover find and shop. It is built to create the ultimate peer to peer shopping platform.
For brands: reducing the cost of content creation by utilising highly engaging user-generated content. Allowing a free flow of collaboration letting consumers become part of their brand.
What’s your mission statement?
Our aim is to create a new kind of search engine for e-commerce built by people for people. We want to empower brands and consumer to collaborate and share the commercial benefits seamlessly. Nearly one billion users are sharing their individuality, culture, and personality every day on social media. There has never been more exciting times for discovering trends and products
Social media is changing the way we discover and shop online. The current search engine process based on keyword bidding but PPC is outdated in terms of e-commerce; it’s more about targeting consumers than giving them relevant information. We believe there is another way. Teggnet’s mission is to build a collaborative new format of social e-commerce, disrupting both the social media advertising and e-commerce.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to develop this kind of business idea? Both the tech side of it but also running a small company?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I started my first company; an ISP firm from my father’s terrace at the age of 15. I studied information technology before my creative curiosity enticed me to fashion. After finishing my studies I started a consultancy which gave me a chance to work across the vertical in the fashion industry with high street, luxury brands, retailers, fashion startups, manufacturing houses, e-commerce. I spend most of time leading teams in design, strategy and technology development. This gave a unique in-depth experience and knowledge of fashion business and technology development. There is a lot more to learn as the industry is changing at a speed like never before.
Is there someone you always go to for advice or mentorship?
I don’t have a particular person but a network of people whom I trust. I have met some great people who give me constructive criticism and advice in different aspects business. It’s amazing how helpful sometimes people can be. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is very conducive for collaborative growth and fellow entrepreneurs have been amazing supporters mentors to discuss issues only a startup business founder would understand.
What kind of support did you get – from CFE but also outside of it?
CFE is a very well designed support program. It covers all major aspects of running a business from finance, PR & branding to intellectual property. The workshops and the 1-2-1 sessions were very helpful to give us the building blocks. I would recommend it to any early stage Fashion Tech business.
Outside CFE: I have built a network of business leaders, advisors whom I reach out to. I attend some networking and events that I feel are relevant to my business. London has a brilliant startup ecosystem; do take advantage of it! There is a lot of advice and support available. A lot of it can be conflicting so you have to decide what’s best for you and your business.
What would be your key piece of advice for people who want to set up their own business?
Entrepreneurship is a difficult path. You continuously have to manage expectations, responsibilities of things beyond your control whilst breaking boundaries, challenging status quo, open yourself for criticism and be ready to be misunderstood. Create culture, lead but never stop learning and progressing. It’s highly rewarding; more than anything you will ever do. The learning curve is not a hockey stick but a rocket launch but find what you are passionate about- don’t do it for any other reason otherwise you will give up too easily and fail at the first hurdle.
What do you think is going to be a big fashion and/or tech trend in 2018?
I think social e-commerce is going to explode and change the way people discover brands and products. It’s going to disrupt the balance of pushed advertising. Brands are no longer what they tell the consumers, but what consumers tell each other. Technology is not useful if it not built for people. We predict big things for the tech industry but it’s important to understand that technology doesn’t make money; business models do.
In fashion, I think chrome is going to be a big trend: chrome nail paint, hair colour, chrome pleated skirts, chrome cosmetics.
Who do you admire in this arena – who is doing it well?
That is a long list for me. I admire several people and businesses for various reasons. I think Instagram, Soundcloud, Medium are a few who have created a tool that will change the creative music, art, fashion, writing, publishing industry forever. They are empowering people in truly global ways.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing young businesses today?
Over-consumption, too many choices, too much information. The problem with too much of everything is that a lot of it is bad quality. Bad quality garments are made at a cheaper price, hence they need to be made in mass quantities with poor conditions, low wages, and no sustainability regulations. Young business will find it hard to compete with economies of scale and distribution like that.
Where do you see TEGGNET in the future?
I see Teggnet to be collective; a highly driven team expanding and collaborating with businesses and retailers across the globe. To have a delightfully diverse culture full of eccentric and unique team members. I want Teggnet to become a truly disruptive tech company reshaping social media advertising and e-commerce and setting new standards for the industry. I see Teggnet on the path to democratising e-commerce and become a contributing voice in a shared economy.
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