The secondary luxury market is booming, so it was only a matter of time before product authentication got the start-up treatment.
Enter Entrupy, a New York-based company launched last year that uses microscopic imaging and artificial intelligence technology to authenticate luxury products, which has landed $2.6 million in its first significant round of funding.
Led by a joint venture between Tokyo-based Digital Garage and Daiwa Securities Group, as well as angel investor Zach Coelius, the founder and former chief executive officer of ad retargeting company Triggit, Entrupy is planning to put the money toward expansion efforts and hardware improvements.
The company claims to be the only “technology-driven solution of its type” and has been focused on authentication for resellers and online marketplaces, which are increasingly dealing in luxury goods while relying on what Entrupy calls “manual and subjective processes” for authentication.
“Online commerce is growing leaps everyday globally and trust is going to be a hot-button issue, especially when there is less interpersonal interaction,” Masahito Okuma of Digital Garage said. “Entrupy’s technology offers a viable, scalable method of combating the scourge of counterfeit goods and building this trust.”
Entrupy’s ceo and cofounder Vidyuth Srinivasan said the technology has already been used to authenticate $14 million worth of goods going through the secondary market, namely leather goods and bags from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès.
The technology works by training AI algorithms to detect “minute differences between authentics and counterfeits” through microscopic imaging of a product, like a handbag, according to Srinivasan. Entrupy holds a “massive database” of product images that is continually growing and used to compare goods. For some designer handbag styles the images go back several decades.
“The algorithms sift through these images and look for qualities like texture, contrast, topology, geometric shapes, thread-counts, minor manufacturing artifacts such as scratches in the hardware stamps, wear, and many more details,” Srinivasan said.
An Entrupy user gets near-instant results for their imaged product, determined to be either “authentic” or “unidentified.” If a product is found to be genuine, Entrupy also backs their finding with an authentication certificate and a guarantee that if the product is found to be counterfeit, a customer will be reimbursed for the cost of the item.
But Entupy believes in the ability of its technology. Srinivasan recounted an instance when a customer’s handbag that had been found genuine by two different authenticators using typical photos was ruled “unidentified” by Entropy after four tests.
Srinivasan said with the quality of some fake products in the market today it’s no wonder that traditional authenticators make mistakes now and then, but that technology like Entrupy can see through even the best counterfeit goods.
“At a microscopic level, we have mapped various aspects of designer goods over time, over 80 years for certain brands,” Srinivasan said. “This gives us a wholesale understanding of manufacturing practices in different eras, quality and wear over time. When certain regions of a bag don’t match with the contextual data we have, our algorithms automatically flag them. This happens a lot with very good fakes.”