Maria Montero

Prisma Labs raises $ 6.7M for its intelligence-based approach …

Do you remember the prism? The Moscow-based team behind the app that sparked a style transfer craze in 2016 has raised a € 6 million Series A (~ $ 6.7M), led by the early-stage AI-focused VC firm, Haxus.

While two of Prisma’s original founders left the company in the middle of last year, to work on building a new social app, the as yet unpublished Capture, co-founder Andrey Usoltsev stayed on to further develop Prisma Labs, until the position. CEO.

The Series A funds will go towards expanding Prisma’s 21-member team and scaling the business through marketing spending to increase uptake of its app premium subscription offerings. These include a subscription layer for their eponymous app that gives users access to styles not available in the free version.

“We are going to grow rapidly. We are going to double our team this year and set up the impressive marketing budget,” Usoltsev says.

Late last year, the team launched a new freemium selfie retouch app, called Lensa, in hopes of capturing a slice of the beauty filter / photo editing market. His touch consisted of intelligent intelligence baking that powers automatic adjustments (soften skin tone, whiten teeth, brighten eyes, etc.) with the touch of the camera button in the app, as per tecnomagic.

Your selfie retouch tone is “natural” enhancements. Y Prisma claims that it is seeing “very high” retention rates for Lensa, more akin to sticky social media than photo retouching software.

They argue that the app’s facial retouching machine learning algorithms have benefited from the vast amount of data accumulated from Prisma’s multiple million users submitting selfies. And while there is certainly no shortage of rival apps that claim to make selfies look better, Lensa’s LPI retouching offers less stark / more plausible results at a glance than many sophisticated ‘beauty filter’ apps that also offer. a reality edit. goods

“There is competition [for selfie retouching] and we think it’s good because it shows the size of the market, ”Usoltsev says. “It’s huge. There are millions of people using applications like Facetune and our advantage is that we have a great technical team, an R&D team that creates the best technology on the market in some areas … that trained Prisma.

“We focus on the quality and the natural look of the results. And some applications in the market did not pay the necessary attention to these two things. We are going to focus on this.” We are not the first in this space, but we will be the best in this space. “

“Automation is the key,” he adds. “Now we can offer users a new type of product, a new type of photo and video editors that automate the routine and require less user effort to achieve amazing results.”

Lensa, which launched in December with an immediate subscription offer, now has more than 100,000 users, according to Usoltsev, although paid subs are not breaking yet.

The first user base biases to women and young people, without, according to Usoltsev, Prisma making any explicit guidance, with the main group being women between 18 and 24 years old, something surprising for a selfie beautification app.

“The product is not viral, like Prisma, and most of the users are purchased from paid sources like Facebook ads, etc. We tightly control the number of users we acquire and now the product is not ready for full scale, “he continues, noting that they are in the process of adjusting the application to expand the functions and improve the fit of the product market.

They’re playing with the business model too, with the initial subscription offering definitely feeling a bit underwhelming compared to the AI-powered basic editions. (You can read our first look at Lensa here.)

“Right now we are very close to starting to scale it,” he adds. “We need a couple more launches to get 100% ready and then we start to scale.