Snap Vision Founder And CEO Jenny Griffiths On Revolutionizing Fashion With AI

November 2, 2021

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series” comprises stories, Q&As and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.


Jenny Griffiths is the founder and CEO of Snap Vision, a visual search company working with the fashion industry to revolutionize online shopping. Griffiths is a software engineer turned entrepreneur and was named by Forbes as one of the World’s Top Women in Technology. She won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s silver medal for contributions to U.K. engineering and was also awarded an MBE for Services to Innovation in the Fashion Industry.

In this Q&A, Griffiths shares the problems she’s solving in the fashion industry, the qualities needed to pioneer in her industry, and advice she has for other women beginning their entrepreneurial journeys. 

Jenny Griffiths, Founder and CEO of Snap Vision

Q: What inspired you to start Snap Vision?

While studying for my degree in computer science I became fascinated by AI and computer vision. I had an idea to make a piece of software capable of identifying clothing from magazines and on people’s bodies, simply by taking a photo. 

I started working on making the idea a reality purely as an academic project, but the more people I told about it, the more people asked to have a go so they could find some clothing they had seen.  That’s when I knew I had a business and Snap Vision was born. In 2012 we launched as the world’s first SaaS solution for visual search for retailers and publishers. 

 

Q: What problems are you trying to solve at Snap Vision?

The fashion industry is competitive. Snap Vision gives fashion retailers and publishers visual search tools that can improve conversion rates and boost their profitability. For example, if a shopper’s dream jacket is out of stock in a particular size on one of our retail customers’ websites, our technology can guide them to a similar item before they leave and turn to a competing shop. 

Our tools can also be used to direct readers of online fashion magazines to similar pieces that they can buy, without the need for editors to spend hours curating “get the look” features. It’s so easy for consumers to become overwhelmed by choice when shopping online, so we steer them in the right direction using an item’s aesthetics.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite quote or “personal mantra” you use to keep yourself motivated?

My mission, which I share with Snap Vision, is to “change the way the world searches.” That’s a big mission, but it’s a great mantra when we come up against a challenge. It helps remind us what we are working toward and why we’re the right people to deliver on that big idea. Putting a big mission at the center of your startup can really lift a founder and the team on frustrating days.  

 

Q: How have you integrated your values and mission into your own company structure?

Our mission is the driving force for everything we do, but our values underpin our actions. For instance, our value of “do business nicely” means our sales team is always honest with clients, while our “tread lightly” green value makes us question whether a flight to the U.S. could be a video call.  We revisit our values every quarter as a team so they are always at our company’s core.

 

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as the founder of your own company?

A mentor once told me: “Your investors picked you for your brain, not your brawn.” That’s helpful to remember when your to-do list is long, and you are tempted to try and tackle it alone. Their advice made me realize the importance of surrounding myself with a smart, capable team. It’s my job to think strategically, then set them off in the right direction and give them the tools to run with their projects.

 

Q: In the first eight months of 2021, only 2.2 percent of venture capital was invested in female-only founded companies. Do you feel welcome and accepted as an underrepresented group in the VC space?

I’m lucky to count some great people in the community as friends, and things are certainly changing for the better since I started my journey as an entrepreneur 10 years ago. However, the figures don’t lie, and underlying biases still exist and can wear you down; that’s why it’s important to be a friend and ally to other founders in a similar position. Being a softly spoken female engineer can be challenging, but if someone can’t see what my team and I bring to the table because of their own biases, they would not be a valuable partner anyway.

 

Q: What is your advice for other female founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys?

Build a network of founder friends in different industries. You’ll gain a wonderfully diverse group of people with whom you can discuss ideas and business challenges, get advice without feeling judged or as if you are competing with one another, and a mutually beneficial support system. Being a founder can be tough and isolating at times, so knowing that you have friends that understand your problems can really help you through those tough times.

 

Q: How did you network, find communities and make the connections you needed to succeed?

Like any startup hub, London has some fantastic groups that help connect and support founders.  For instance, the Royal Academy of Engineering has great programs if you’re a technically focused founder with an engineering background, groups like SVC2UK and Oracle for Startups have connected me with an incredible group of female entrepreneurs. I’m also not shy about asking my network for introductions, and I love helping others out.

 

Q: What qualities do you possess that you think have contributed most to your success?

Resilience and an unshakeable belief in my company’s mission are my superpowers! You really need these qualities if you’re a pioneer in your industry because there’s a great need for market education and keeping the faith that you’re developing something that the world really needs.

However, the ability to listen is also crucial as it’s dangerous to believe your own hype; you need to listen to the market and your customers to make your products the best they can be.

 

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your experience as a founder so far?

Building a great team and watching it thrive is rewarding, and the knowledge that I’m creating jobs that people enjoy makes me smile.  Seeing our technology being used in the wild never loses its power to bring me joy and knowing our technology is making a positive impact for our clients is such a rewarding experience.