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Slyce CEO Mark Elfenbein talks to Cantech Letter

Mark Elfenbein
Mark Elfenbein
Slyce CEO Mark Elfenbein

Sometimes technology solutions come along that solve a problem we have all experienced.

“I wish I could make my entire music collection portable, and in one place,” is something many of us wished for in decades past. Enter the iPod, and eventually, the capability of smartphones to store a huge amount of data. Problem solved.

“I keep losing my keys, I wish I could find a way to find them quickly”. Enter Tile, a bluetooth tracking device that attaches to your keys so you can find them instantly with your smartphone. Problem solved.

“I love that handbag that woman is carrying, I wish I could take a picture of it and find out where to buy it.” Until a couple years ago, this was a mere futuristic daydream. But enter Canada’s Slyce (Slyce Stock Quote, Chart, News: TSXV:SLC), and this very solution is now a reality. Problem solved.


Never heard of Slyce? Six of the top 20 retailers in the United States, including Neiman Marcus have. They’ve partnered with the company on products such as its Universal Scanner and Snap-to-Buy product recognition platform that give them a leg up in attracting the thoroughly modern kinds of Instagram and Pinterest using customers that will gradually make up every retailers customer base.

Cantech Letter recently talked to CEO Mark Elfenbein about how the mobile boom has brought sweeping changes to the way retailers operate and where Slyce fits in the equation.

Mark, for those who don’t know Slyce, how would you describe the company?

Slyce is a Visual Search company that is shaping the future of customer engagement, internet use, and commerce.

What do you feel is Slyce’s proprietary advantage?

Slyce is an agile technology company first and foremost. We develop, we test, and we constantly look for new, unique ways for retailers and brands to engage with customers using mobile technology. Our end goal is to create something that engages our customer’s end user, which means we have to adapt to every retail environment and vertical. On top of this, our Universal Scanner offering allows users to take pictures of virtually any item, anywhere, and have a purchasable result returned to them.

slyce app

How does visual search help your customers? Does it, for instance, increase their loyalty to a brand?

Visual Search adds an entirely new level of engagement to the customer experience that simply hasn’t existed before, because it couldn’t. We live on our smart phones now, and the success of companies like Instragram and Pinterest showcase how visual this new mobile world is. Users want to interact with brands, and products, and Slyce offers a seamless way to help retailers and their customers connect like never before.

How does Slyce make money?

Slyce receives revenues from the licensing of its proprietary software providing visual search to the customer and their consumers. Further revenue is generated on usage basis, from number of photos scanned and share of sales revenue on purchased products. What we are really excited about however, are the products Slyce offers beyond our visual search capabilities, we offer Slyce Insights, our analytics platform, digital couponing campaigns and redemption, out of stock, and social visual commerce. Slyce’s product pipeline is in a constant state of evolution and development as we grow with more customers.

Where do you see your margins ultimately settling?

Slyce is a high margin revenue model business. Slyce entered into real commercial contracts at the beginning of 2015, prior to this work was done through Proof of Concepts with customers. To service these customer Slyce is fully staffed, from a people and technology infrastructure perspective, therefore our cost from 1 customer to 100 is only a minor, incremental difference.

Can you tell us a bit about your expanded offering with Neiman Marcus?

The Neiman Marcus expansion is what we see as a natural evolution of our offering cycle. Our initial deployment focused on a limited catalogue that could really showcase both the Slyce technology, and how Slyce encourages and promotes brand engagement. This expansion now brings Slyce into the entire Neiman Marcus catalogue, across any product line, allowing users to find items and similar products of the Neiman Marcus catalogue at the moment of inspiration.


Is there a direct line between the growth of mobile and the growth of visual search? Do you see the latter moving in lockstep with the former?

We really couldn’t have visual search without the mobile boom that we have seen. There will be accessories that come and go, like Google Glass and others, that help to branch and grow the Visual Search marketplace, but for the foreseeable future the connection that mobile devices provide to their users is integral to the growth of Visual Search.

What is the Craves App?

Craves is Slyce’s newest consumer app, released this past July. The Craves app is a fashion discovery and social shopping app that targets individuals looking for high quality apparel and accessories from reputable boutique retailers

Do you see visual search moving beyond retail and into other parts of the economy?

Visual Search, much like its text based predecessors will eventually become ubiquitous in our society. The more technology allows for actions to be streamlined and automated, the greater permeation Visual Search will have into our world, from ordering pizza, to healthcare.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 12-18 months?

The next year to year and a half for Slyce is focused on two areas: Expanding our customer base as we are viewing all retailers and brands in North America and Europe as potential customers, and growing our product offering. Slyce itself has two very compelling consumer based applications with Pounce and Craves, and these give us incredibly valuable insight into the consumer mind frame, and how they interact with visual search technology. These learning, plus the analytics we can pull and offer to our existing customers allows us to reshape and expand our product offering, and allows us to branch into new verticals, with new potential clients.

Disclosure: Slyce is an annual sponsor of Cantech Letter.

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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