Startup of the Day: Lithuanian automated retail store Pixevia

The Vilnius-based Pixevia provides an AI platform for retail, which eliminates tills, provides easier customer experience, and optimizes operations for store managers. All is done by combining information from different security cameras. Its computer vision technology brings the physical retail spaces into the digital age of seamless checkouts and real time 3D operating platform. The startup claims that it is the first to launch an AI-driven store in Europe and now deploying stores with top European retailers.

Pixevia’s solutions are used in the markets of France, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The company is also actively engaged in research and experimental development activities. In 2018, it has received the first EU research grant, and in 2020 the second for AI-based Smart Store development.

In the Startup of the Day column, the founder of Pixevia Mindaugas Eglinskas shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

“The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.”

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

Pixevia brings the conventional grocery store and retail experience into the digital age with a seamless, cashier-less checkout process and AI-powered store management tools. Our AI technology solutions and a SaaS platform to power deliver an appless shopping experience and real-time receipts for shoppers.

How it works is basically that customers enter a ‘powered by Pixevia’s store by tapping a payment card. They do their normal shopping and can even put items into their own bag as they shop. When they’re ready to leave, they tap the payment card again, a receipt is delivered instantly, and they walk out. It couldn’t be simpler.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

We approached Pixevia through the lens or perspective of grocers and retailers. This is a very difficult industry with razor-thin profit margins, where managers and stakeholders are always looking for ways to cut costs. At the same time, the customer experience can be improved a lot. So, our main motivation was to deliver a better shopping experience for customers and a better grocery management experience for retailers.

I had a lot of previous experience in machine learning and robotics. I worked at the Central Bank of Lithuania with real-time payment systems, and I launched a couple of startups before. Combining these experiences, it was quickly apparent that there is major room for improvement in grocery retail using AI.

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

Well, our prototype was built in our office, and we did that fairly quickly. It was just a few shelves and the cameras where we could test everything and just have people from the office come by and “shop” for items in this simulated environment.

From that prototype we launched our own store in 2019 which was the very first AI-driven store in Europe and operated it for a couple of years. We learned a lot from this experience, and we were able to easily experiment with customer experience. In 2019, we learned that it’s almost impossible to convince shoppers to download an app for simple purchases. They would always rather choose another store, so we had to rethink the system and figure out how to deliver this autonomous shopping experience without the baggage of the app world.

Then in 2022, we launched the first store with a commercial partner, IKI – part of the Rewe Group. We opened our first store with IKI a couple of years ago and our second store just this year. Things are really starting to roll now, with several major interested partners all over Europe and even some in the US.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

Our first store was opened in 2019.

Tell us about the stratup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

There are a one-time installation and onboarding fee to change a store into a Pixevia store, and also a monthly fee for the platform. This doesn’t involve anything more complex than some normal security cameras and simple shelf sensors. The complex operations are handled on our side through the software platform.

Autonomous shopping is just the beginning, and we also think of ourselves as a retail data platform and analysis suite. For example, we also offer deep integrations of our AI engine with security alerts, inventory management, other modules

What are your target markets and consumers?

We are looking at convenience chains and gas station retail chains in Europe, as well as smaller supermarkets, US, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific. Obviously, everyone needs to eat, so grocery is a gigantic industry. This is one of the reasons we are not afraid of some competition, and in fact we welcome it.

Moreover, we think the potential of our technology is massive. Labor accounts for one of the biggest costs for grocery retailers, and we estimate that we can lower labor costs significantly. In an industry that typically has around single digit profit margins, this represents a major improvement.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

We are still in the very early stages of our partnerships with retailers. IKI for example has 3 stores with us now and more planned for 2023. The stores in the US are also in deployment.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

We have 16 people on our team right now, with the headquarters in Vilnius and a sales office in London as well. We’re always looking for talented and motivated people, of course, so if anyone is interested in revolutionizing retail through amazing technology, feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

We’ve raised around €4.2 million total, which includes around €2.2 million in seed-round funding from VCs and angel investors and another €2 million in science and technology research grants, which I think gives a good indication that we take our tech very seriously.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

The future is looking bright! More stores, more partners, more regions. We are very busy with sales development right now, and there are a lot of promising partnership opportunities. Our team is also dedicated to continuously improving our technology and fostering the business partnerships and stores that we’ve already built.