Google has selected the Amsterdam-based Lalaland.ai for the European version of its “Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.”
With the fund, the company is poised at increasing diversity in the start-up and tech world.
Lalaland.ai, which operates from the World Fashion Center in Amsterdam, is one of 800 start-ups that applied for the fund, out of which only 30 start-ups made cut.
Lalaland.ai, which was founded in 2018 by Zimbabwe-born Michael Musandu, and Ugnius Rimsa, uses a neural network to generate images of artificial humans.
The images enables fashion or eyewear retailers to showcase their wares on a range of artificial models, all with different age, skin colour or body shape.
The services rendered by lalaland.ai results is more equal representation in the fashion world, as well as a lower environmental impact as purchased clothing is less likely to be returned.
The startups that were selected for the Google fund received €350,000, out of which €100,000 in equity-free cash. Founders also received guidance and training from experts at Google.
While commenting on the success of the start-up, co-founder, Musandu, expressed his delight:
“I feel Lalaland performed well by showing how much we genuinely care about our customers and backing it up with metrics of the impact and value we continue to create for them. One of the main foundations of our business is inclusivity which leads to profitability, so showing proven validation and the progress we continue to make over time was helpful.”
Mr Musandu also noted that getting recognition from Google, and subsequently getting selected for the fund is a big deal.
“I want to increase the chances of future generations of black founders. I want to start a community to share knowledge and develop connections needed to make board rooms as diverse as the markets they serve,” Musandu said.
“People feel more comfortable going for a goal if they see someone who looks like them who has accomplished it. I see myself setting up mentorship for other young entrepreneurs of colour in the near or far away future. 95 Per cent of people I reach out to are happy to give me time, share their experiences and learnings. I think it’s super important to do the same to accelerate the process by which black founders can grow their companies.”
Getting selected for the Google fund can be added to a growing list of successes for the Amsterdam-based startup. After completing the ACE Incubator, it received pre-seed funding from ASIF Ventures.
Last year, lalaland.ai won the Philips Innovation Award, and received additional funding from the innovation fund North-Holland.