Computer vision for happier, more comfortable women
Many women wear uncomfortably wrong-sized bras. Brarista thinks it can help
PreSeed Now brings you an in-depth profile of a different B2B or deep tech startup every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe to get it straight to your inbox.
It’s a common complaint that the fact most people working in tech are men means problems primarily facing women get much less attention than they should.
No wonder then that when I mentioned today’s startup to some women, they were relieved and enthused to hear that work was being done to solve the very real problem of bra sizing.
Scroll down to read all about Brarista‘s computer-vision based approach to an issue many women know all too well.
But first: you should know about Bethnal Green Ventures’ new £33 million fund to back as many as 100 startups over the next four years through the firm’s Tech For Good Programme.
🗞️ Group subscription deals
Welcome to the Royal Academy of Engineering, which has just signed up for a group subscription to PreSeed Now, to keep its team fully briefed on the early-stage startups we cover, via access to our full archive and our Startup Tracker database.
Does that sound useful to your team? Contact Samantha to chat about packages and pricing.
Brarista is using computer vision to fix a problem many women know all too well
There’s a common statistic thrown around that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size. While that specific figure has been disputed, it certainly reflects a truth: many women could be far more comfortable in their bras.
On the consumer side, this leads to ongoing discomfort and potentially poor self-esteem. For brands and retailers it can cause significant and expensive issues with returns.
The root problems, London-based startup Brarista contends, are that sizing with a tape measure can be highly inaccurate; different companies have different ways of sizing bras, and it’s simply not convenient to get measured.
To solve this, Brarista claims its computer-vision tech is three times more accurate than a tape measure, while being able to measure users without them having to take their clothes off.
“We are making it possible to get fitted from home, from a series of four poses in five minutes. You find out exactly what bra size you are in every single product that you are most interested in,” explains co-founder Bella Trang Ngo.
The patent-pending, web-based tech promises to assess users without them having to take their clothes off.
“We extract measurements from the images of the users and then we map them on to our proprietary sizing system to tell you exactly the size you are in different products” says Ngo. “We don't just tell you what bra size you have… we can give really personalised recommendations, down to what wire type you should be looking at.”
The startup has built its own data set as a basis for the tech, in a collaboration between computer vision experts and professional bra fitters. This helped the company develop its ‘secret sauce’.
Brarista says that its initial user tests with more than 5,000 people around the world have pegged the tech as 66% cheaper than human bra fitters, with a 20% higher basket value for retailers, and 97% of users preferring the tech to competitor startups (more on them below).
The story so far
Ngo says she came across the opportunity in bra fitting while studying for a masters degree in Entrepreneurship at University College London. She got talking to a professional bra fitter as part of some assignment research.
“I had never come across the concept of being fitted by eye… She asked me right off the bat, ‘what size do you think you're wearing?” and I said 38B. She said ‘no way, you’re a 32E’.
“I was extremely sceptical, but then I showed up at her place of work and she put me in a 32E and everything changed… my posture, the way I feel, the way my clothes fit, everything changed.”
But while that bra fitter had trained for years to get to the point where she could judge size by eye, there aren’t many people with that level of experience.
To better understand the issue, Ngo says she trained as a professional bra fitter herself.
“I fitted hundreds of customers first-hand by myself, and I realised that the industry is faced with a very systematic problem where there’s a bra for you out there that fits you, but there aren’t enough high-quality fitters.”
And so Brarista’s tech, developed with co-founder and computer vision specialist Prashant Aparajeya, is intended to be a scalable, tech-based alternative to those rare human experts
Brarista has been deep in its R&D phase for a couple of years, but is gearing up to move into more significant market testing in partnership with brands. Ultimately, the plan is to charge brands via a usage-based pricing model.
Ngo says Brarista has already received inbound interest from companies keen to address the problem of bra sizing among their customers.
“For us the job now is to make sure that we have effective testing to make sure that the tool is ready for mass adoption, and then conduct a public beta in order to validate the early commercial metrics that we have.”
Go deeper on Brarista
Read more about their funding, investment plans, vision, competition, and challenges: