Y Combinator Alum Launches Kaleidoscope, a Street Style App That Takes You from Photo to Purchase


Earlier this week, Inporia co-founder Ryan Junee launched Kaleidoscope, a more monetizable take on those suddenly ubiquitous fashion apps, in the Android market. (Relax, fangirls, the Apple version if coming soon.)

Kaleidoscope, which also works as a website widget embeddable with a few lines of JavaScript, lets users browse a stream of both Anna-approved editorial images and street style photos. If you like what you see, click on any image and it breaks it down by item and offers direct links to sites like Nordstrom’s, Bergdorff, Net-a-Porter or Shop Bop, where users can buy the exact items featured in the photo or similar ones across a range of price points, both higher (what recession?) and lower.

It’s being described as “Pinterest meets ShopStyle,” and indeed, Kaleidoscope uses the ShopStyle API to source potential purchasing options. But there’s also an element of “human expertise,” Mr. Junee told Betabeat, with a team of fashion interns making sure the “shop that look” function links to the best selection of similar items. Mr. Junee said he’s also working on automating that function.

Of course, Mr. Junee, who sold Omnisio (the video editing startup he helped launch out of Y Combinator) to Google and worked as the product manager for YouTube, thinks proprietary technology will be Kaleidoscope’s key differentiator. Right now, the app scans e-commerce sites twice a day to make sure items are still in stock. But longterm, his core tech team is working on training its algorithm to learn your tastes. Until then, the app lets you browse photos, search for a particular item (say, striped cardigan), save, and share the photos that come pre-uploaded in the app. Prohibiting user uploads controls photo quality, but Kaleidoscope is looking to partner with fashion bloggers who can offer the same high standard.

Mr. Junee is keeping his tech team out in San Francisco, where he has a strong engineering network, but tapped Sarah Kunst, the company’s director of business development to set up an office here. (You’re welcome for drawing attention to Ms. Kunst’s poachable charms, btw.) Rather than commission on sales, the company is looking to make money off brand advertising and sponsored placement. To that end, he spends half his time in New York. “There’s zero fashion scene in San Francisco,” he noted.

Kaleidoscope’s parent company, Inporia, has already raised $1.25 million in seed funding from Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups (where Mr. Junee serves as an advisor), and along a handful of other angels.

“I guess it’s a simple idea,” Mr. Junee said of the app, “Everyone says, ‘Why doesn’t that exist already?’ Usually that means you’re onto the right thing.”

Y Combinator Alum Launches Kaleidoscope, a Street Style App That Takes You from Photo to Purchase