June 26, 2014 3:55 pm

New smart phone app ‘Blynk’ is Tinder of the fashion world

Blynk CTO Shums Kassam (left) and CEO Jaclyn Ling (right).

(Shums Kassam/Submission)

A Toronto-based start-up company launched a style application for smart phones this week that resembles Tinder’s interface.

The app draws from a database of outfits (compiled by fashion bloggers) that are then judged by users who swipe left or right to show likes or dislikes.

After swiping through a few photos, Blynk begins to recognize what users like. The app then provides recommended outfits, like a stylist might (for a price).

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The app also directly links to retailers for each item of clothing featured in the photos.

The company, founded by Shums Kassam (CTO) and Jaclyn Ling (CEO), is admittedly Tinder-inspired.

“We wanted to get input of what people would like in a fun and interactive way. We realized Tinder is getting really big, people love to use Tinder,” says Kassam, “our whole app is based off of swipe right, swipe left.”

Tinder, launched two years ago, is like the high-tech version of the online dating game “hot or not.” Kassam and Ling decided to test their app in the Tinder-inspired interface only.

Blynk interface.

(Shums Kassam/Submission)

“We recognized some people would go through 900 outfits on first login,” says Kassam. Nine hundred outfits in one log in poses a bit of a problem for Kassam who says the app currently has 2000 images uploaded.

“We’re constantly trying to increase that number.”

Kassam, trained in electrical and computer engineering, works alongside one other developer. The company’s roster has grown to include three interns and a marketing lead.

The app generates revenue when a user clicks on an item, but is hoping to expand its revenue model.

“There’s a lot of value in the data we’re collecting. There are around 200,000 flags of what people like. We could do targeted advertising on our application without users even knowing,” Kassam says. “For example, say a retailer wanted to know if people would like a certain outfit, they can post it on our site, it’s instantaneous feedback.”

While the app does make some money, Kassam and Ling rely on the $95,000 seed fund given to them by The Next 36 program to pay their employees, including interns.

The idea was sparked by Kassam and Ling after going shopping together. Ling, with a fashion background and YouTube following, acted as a free stylist to Kassam.

On this trip, Kassam says he learned the value of having a fashionable friend.

“Why can’t we make some sort of global device that will ask that fashionable friend in your pocket?” he asked.

Kassam says the app’s goal is to act as a free personal stylist.

The app’s icon pays tribute to the popular children’s fortune-teller origami game, which Kassam says was Ling’s idea.

“The reason we came out with a logo like that, is because it’s [the app] really about telling your fortune,” says Kassam. “You play with it a couple times and it gives you an answer. That’s the same way our app works, you give it a bit of information and then it gives you outfit recommendations.”

The Android app launched Monday but iPhone users will have to wait until July 4 when the iOS version launches.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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