Originally aired on October 27, 2023
In this episode of the Edge of AI podcast, host Ron Levy interviews Chris Schmidt, the founder of Parallel AI, a social commerce platform that helps people find the right size when shopping online. The main problem that Parallel addresses is the high rate of returns in online shopping, with 60% of returns being due to incorrect sizing. Schmidt discusses how Parallel uses AI to analyze user-uploaded photos and extract body measurements, allowing users to see others with similar body dimensions and find the right size for clothes. The episode also touches on the challenges of AI development, the importance of focusing on a niche market, the growth of Parallel to 130,000 users through TikTok, and the future of AI in social commerce.
The Problem with Online Shopping and Parallel’s Solution
- 40% of online purchases are returned, with 60% of returns due to incorrect sizing.
- Parallel allows users to see others with similar body dimensions and find the right size through user-generated photos and measurements.
Scaling and Growth of Parallel
- Parallel has grown to 130,000 users in just two years, with a focus on user-generated content and organic growth.
- The company is leveraging TikTok to drive user sign-ups and engagement.
AI in Social Commerce
- Parallel uses AI to recommend personalized content to users based on their preferences, browsing history, and body measurements.
- AI is also used for fraud detection, content moderation, and analysis of user photos.
Chris Schmidt’s Background and Entrepreneurial Journey
- Schmidt started his first company at the age of 10 and has been building consumer technology companies for the past 10 years.
- He taught himself to be a software engineer and became interested in AI about six years ago, leading to the founding of Pluto Ventures and Parallel.
The Impact of Parallel and AI
- Parallel aims to increase customer satisfaction and decrease waste in the fashion industry by helping people find the right size when shopping online.
- AI has the potential to simplify the online shopping experience, provide personalized recommendations, and detect emotions and intentions from user photos.
The Importance of Focusing and Building a Strong Team
- Schmidt emphasizes the importance of focusing on a niche market and solving a specific problem.
- His team of 13 engineers and developers plays a crucial role in the success and growth of Parallel.