Meet Alexander Straub, the German genius behind Empora, The Fashion Engine and FashionFreax, a multilingual fashion and design social network. Straub, once an engineering student pursuing his PhD, is now a serial entrepreneur and investor. Brief history:
1. In 1996, Straub founded Mondus, an online business to business marketplace, for which he quit school to pursue full time.
2. In 2000 he sold Mondus and became a general partner at Lazard Technology Partners in New York, where at some point he discovered the fascinating research of Dr. Daniel Heesch.
3. Straub and Heesch founded Pixsta, a visual search engine and from this union Empora was born.
Empora, The Fashion Search Engine, utilizes and exploits Pixsta’s unique visual search capabilities to deliver a detailed and streamlined shopping experince. As reported by Erin Bury of Sprouter Blog, Straub stated that “[F]ashion lended itself to apply the technology… and I decided to focus on apparel photography as a starting point…[w]e essentially solved the key issues in online fashion shopping.”
While Bury espoused the virtures of the “More Like This” feature, I found the “Similar Items Sorter” to be a great virtual stylist. Located at the top of the shopping page, this feature filters clothes by color or shape- super sensible and super helpful.
In July 2010, Straub acquired FashionFreax, a multilingual fashion and design social network spanning over 90 countries. As you can guess, Empora and FashionFreax share a very symbiotic, and stylish, relationship:
“Straub said it’s easy to see how Empora will help the members hone their style. ‘Each of them will benefit from the fashion search engine to better navigate fashion and decide how to build new real-world style and get product inspiration.’ FashionFreax will use Empora’s search technology to connect its street style content to items available online, while the social network will showcase users on Empora’s street style channel.” (Erin Bury, Sprouter Blog)
Yes, from what I gather, FashionFreax is similar to LookBook, but hey, the more the merrier, I say. So take a moment to check out Empora and FashionFreax; you’ll be glad you did.