“I have felt like the only woman in the room throughout my life, but I have always used it as a source of fuel for my determination and passion,” says Illumix Founder and member of Forbes 30 Under 30 , Kirin Sinha, in an interview.
As a South Asian woman with a committed to STEM industries–a few of her degrees include a Master’s Degree from Cambridge in Mathematics, a Master’s degree from London School of Economics in Risk and Stochastics, Focus in Machine Learning, and a B.Sc. degree from M.I.T in Theoretical Math and Electrical Engineering/Computer Science–Sinha is used to persistence and perseverance in her work, and it’s paying off.
Sinha’s company has announced an $18m round of Series A round of funding from the likes of Mark Cuban, Sony Innovation Fund, and Henry Kravis which stands proof positive her technology is not only considered the leader in bridging the digital and physical worlds, it is the AR technology major investors believe in.
“In earlier fundraising, I had to prove the technology and business out to a different level, as women aren’t always afforded the same benefit of the doubt. I knew I had to do more than knock on doors to get my shot–I had to knock down doors to find the right investor that believed in me and the business,” Sinha explains. “Ultimately though, this enabled us to build a stronger company, and in these later phases of fundraising people saw what Illumix has achieved and didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity.”
The stronger company she speaks of is why investors are so interested. According to Matthew Ball, CEO of Epyllion, international bestselling author of The Metaverse and an Illumix investor, it’s the platform’s intersection of ease and power which is the recipe that’s so attractive to the tech world. “Illumix’s powerful yet easy-to-use platform will alter the ways in which hundreds of millions interact with the real world—and without requiring consumers to adopt new sorts of devices, nor businesses to redesign their tech stacks or strategies,” says Ball.
Illumix has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in 2020, an honoree in Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards, and spotlighted by Google as one of their limited partners for the Depth API to further enhance AR realism.
Although, through the process, Sinha has also had to contend with the peaks and valleys AR has experienced on this journey towards mass consumption which Sinha refers to as the hype cycle. The prime example of this being the case of Magic Leap, the secretive AR firm which which acquired over $3 billion dollars of investment and had the whole world fixated on their AR revolution. In the end, Magic Leap’s product flopped sending the company into a downward spiral (although it seems they’re planning a rebound) and lessening consumer confidence in AR.
However, this hype cycle has not stopped Sinha from forging forward.
“From the beginning, we have had conviction that the digital and physical worlds are blending, and this intersection will create one of the biggest opportunities since mobile or the internet,” she says. “Illumix is the infrastructure powering this wave, and we found that high-quality investors are focused on our leading position in this market, the quality of our product, and the results we have driven, rather than any hype cycle.”
While Illumix’s mission is to create immersive digital and physical interactions–or, going from passive 2D models to interactive 3D models–for brands across a myriad of industries, fashion and luxury stand to strongly benefit from its virtual try-on infrastructure. Illumix currently counts jewelry brands Kwiat and Mejuri as clients and in the commercial space, according to Illumix’s data, the technology typical leads to over 13% conversion and engagement rates which surpass 75%. With more than 300 million digital-physical interactions powered by Illumix to date, this round of funding will be used to accelerate the company’s expansion.
“Illumix is enabling high-quality and real-time virtual try-on which has implications for the fashion industry ranging from higher conversion rates, fewer returns, and more environmentally-friendly. While we have started with accessories, eventually virtual try-on will apply to every category and be as regular a part of online shopping as product images or reviews are today,” the founder explains.
She adds, “The most important technologies in fashion center around the movement to digital-first is that that 3D will be a the heart of the largest opportunities. Whether it is 3D in the design or manufacturing process, or digital showrooms and virtual try-on, 3D offers the opportunity to streamline the core processes and drive interactivity and reach with your consumer base.”
As Sinha is ready to take Illumix to new heights with the support of her new funding partners, she intends to help others to rise with her as well, especially women.
“I know having a strong technical background has been critical to the growth of Illumix,” she says. “And I want to lift up and support other women in STEM.”