On Oct. 25th Clear Returns, an Edinburgh-based company, won the IBM SmartCamp Kickstart Dublin event hosted by Dublin City Council as part of the Innovation Dublin Festival 2012. The venue was the location of the world’s very first IBM SmartCamp event in late 2009. With the 20 foot original Viking City wall as a backdrop, Clear Returns delivered a compelling solution to one of our modern-day online problems, namely the high rate of returns in the fashion business. Vicky Brock of Clear Returns opened our eyes to the real world of fashion returns, and highlighted the unusual lengths people will go to and the cost to the retailer.
At the beginning of the morning session each of the 5 finalists made a 5 minute presentation to 15 mentors about their solution and their company. Then after over 2 hours of intense mentoring from the mentor teams, the finalists presented to a larger invited audience in the afternoon. All 5 companies detailed different solutions including WiFi, Power Management, Automated Video Creation, Fashion Returns and gesture-based interfaces.
The mentors had really done their work, as each of the 5 companies’ presentations in the afternoon session were markedly improved. This provided the audience with a real life view of the presentation standard needed to interest investors and take the next step to progress to the EMEA IBM SmartCamp final in Germany in November.
The Clear Returns presentation oozed confidence. No less was the passion Vicky displayed when answering the mentors’ question following the 5 minute drill presentation. With an audience of over 70 guests attending the afternoon session the pressure was notched up a few points by having the mentors quiz the presenters live on stage about their plans to grow their business, beat off competition, nurture potential revenue streams, and capture the hearts and minds of the customer.
The Clear Returns solution combines ecommerce, analytics and mathematical skills with fashion and retail experience. By predicting product returns at the point of sale, Clear Returns enables retailers to actively intervene, to the benefit of the retailer and the customer. As winners of the SmartCamp Kickstart Dublin event they will participate at the IBM EMEA SmartCamp KickStart event in Berlin in November to square off against other SmartCamp winners and potentially move onwards to the global finals in New York to claim the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year 2013”.
Past participants in SmartCamp Kickstarts have captured the attention of the global venture capital community and gone on to rapidly expand and drive innovation in their industry. In February of this year, Irish based startup Profitero was named IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year 2012. The startups at the IBM SmartCamp Kickstart are part of a growing group of entrepreneurs using business analytics, big data and cloud technology to drive innovation in a variety of industries including local government, retail, health, environment and communications.
“Startups face tremendous challenges in a global market, especially as they compete against much large companies going after data analytics opportunities,” said Noel Crawford, Manager, Innovation Centre and Developer Relations, IBM Ireland. “IBM can help convert these companies from ‘startups to speedups’, supporting them getting to global markets faster by providing coaching and connections to IBM clients and partners.”