TAAZ is brought to you by an IIT Kharagpur graduate Satya Mallick based out of California. He is my college senior, so please bear with the bias :-). I recently chatted with him on GTalk about his strategy for TAAZ and how it all started for him. Here is some curated transcript.
- AN: How did you end up starting TAAZ?
- SP: Well I did my Ph.D. at Univ. of California, San Diego and towards the end of my Ph.D. we had some ideas about improving facial photos automatically. We started by thinking that we could monetize the idea of making a software for automatic facial photo enhancement and we pitched the idea to the von Leibig Center for entrepreneurs at UCSD.
- AN: How and when did Glam Media come into picture? Any details that you can share?
- SP: Glam came into picture after we launched our website TAAZ. We had launched without any ads on the site, but quickly added Glam because they provide good CPM ads for sites like ours. [And] coz our site is for women between the age of 18 to 45 — now you are married and you know how much of your household economy is controlled by your wife 🙂 — so advertisers love that age group.
- AN: Hmmm. Any details on size of investments?
- SP: I can talk to you about von Liebig center … but can’t talk about VC investment we secured. [me: Sure] The von Liebig center provided us with $20k and then another round of $20k. The center technically does not get any equity in return and its literally free money. The university just wants to encourage entrepreneurs. And the hope is that entrepreneurs would license technology from the university (which we did) and in future there would be endowments etc.
- AN: Can u explain this process “licensing from university” a bit more?
- SP: We license all code I wrote during my Ph.D and the ideas in my thesis and the university gets its share when we make money. They essentially want to build a culture like Stanford.
- AN: Is that perpetual ownership @university?
- SP: The university owns a piece of the company + a licensing fee. But the university is very reasonable and the idea is not to take out a big chunk of a company. They just want their fair share which we were happy to provide.
- AN: Do you have an option of not rooting it back to the University?
- SP: Yes. We had the choice.
- AN: So how is Glam Media associated with TAAZ?
- SP: They serve our ads and take a piece of the revenue we generate by selling their ads. We were also on Oprah Magazine recently and currently power a virtual makeover tool on Estee Lauder, InStyle Magazine, Revlon, PeopleStyleWatch etc.
- AN: Great, how do you plan to expand into Asia?
- SP: A significant chunk of our traffic is from Asia. We are are carefully looking at emerging markets though yet to finalize on our strategy. Economics of Asian markets are tough at least for internet companies whose majority revenues are based on advertisement.
Alright! That’s about the conversation part, now let me review the fashion startup from Asia point of view. The first step i.e. process of letting a user start a make-over exercise needs to be simplified. Why does one have to login or signup to upload a photograph? Secondly, the application includes more hues, hair style and facial structure of the Hollywood stars and European models. Such profiles normally do not fit or set properly on the look of Asians. Expanding into Asia would definitely require inclusion of more profiles from this part of the world.
The concept of letting users choose eye-liners, shadow, lashes, contacts, lipsticks, lip gloss, face foundation and hair color is simply kick-ass. It would be great if a user is able to order a particular beauty product online immediately after a make-over either through re-direction or online purchase on TAAZ itself. And then receive the product at one’s doorstep. TAAZ should do a little more justice to the male fashion market. Most male happen to be a little shy when it comes to choosing hair styles in public places. Online experimentation at convenience of home is definitely a big upside of Taaz.
Dear Pi readers do give TAAZ a flick.