Five questions with Daina Burnes

Five questions with Bold Metrics

25 November 2020

5 minute read

Daina Burnes is the Founder and CEO of Bold Metrics, Inc, a leading AI-driven retail fit technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Daina Burnes is the Founder and CEO of Bold Metrics, Inc, a leading AI-driven retail fit technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

Bold Metrics uses AI to empower apparel brands to reduce returns, boost conversions and improve sustainability. Bold Metrics provides a scalable way for brands to predict customer body measurements accurately while connecting customers to better-fitting clothing, and generating powerful, actionable insights to supercharge the supply chain and reduce environmental impact. From size recommendations that leverage body shape and fit preference, to enterprise-grade solutions that optimise manufacturing from design to distribution, Bold Metrics improves the customer experience both in-store and online and is used by trusted brands to reduce fit-related returns.

A trailblazer in the field of AI and retail innovation, Daina brings more than a decade of experience in growing and developing technology companies focused on harnessing and processing data. Daina is a published author in multiple leading research journals and has patented technology in the field of optics and computer vision. With a background in engineering and data science, Daina led cross-institutional research initiatives in biophysics and optical imaging at MIT and UCLA before co-founding Bold Metrics.

01. What was the inspiration behind your company?

Apparel products have the highest return rates in the retail industry, with an average of 30% of online purchases being returned, mainly due to consumer sizing uncertainty. Additionally, ready-to-wear apparel dimensions are designed based on very limited body data information, with sizes defined using fit models in one or two sizes and scaled proportionally to define the other sizes. This lack of information about consumer body data that goes into the sizing design process can lead to ill-fitting garments that ultimately contribute to these higher return rates. This can be devastating to the environment, contributing massively to the global carbon footprint.

We must do better, and adopt more sustainable practices moving forward. At Bold Metrics, scalable 3D body measurement capture holds the solution to the issue of returns. We see a future where customer body data and AI aid consumer purchases in-store and online. In this future, consumer body measurements will drive deep insights within product design and apparel sizing.

02. What do you find is the most difficult aspect of being a female founder?

I think it is important that female-led companies are not viewed as special or different from companies run by men. Gender can often become the focus of stories that cover companies founded by women, rather than emphasising the company and the product it makes, the important problems they are solving or how their technology is making an impact. As we move forward, my hope is that our differences are not highlighted, and instead our accomplishments are celebrated.

03. How has the pandemic impacted your company?

The pandemic has transformed the retail industry. Retailers have had to adapt quickly within the changing landscape, while increasing their focus on online sales as a key channel to drive sales and growth. There is unprecedented digital adoption happening within retail, with the influx of first-time digital shoppers, and an accelerated market adoption of AI-based technology to support this.

Contactless pick-ups, closed fitting rooms and a major shift towards online shopping are our new normal. With this evolving landscape, apparel retailers and brands have increased their focus on optimising the digital shopping experience. Whether shopping in store or online, consumers need sizing guidance during the shopping experience. In June, we launched Contactless Fit to address the new challenges of in-store shopping experiences, providing an easy way for shoppers to digitally find their size and see how it will fit. Overall, we are seeing strong demand for our technology and increased adoption rates.

04. Some female founders report experiencing problems accessing capital, mentors, and networking opportunities. Tell us about some of the barriers you’ve faced."

We are proud to have raised venture capital, gone through a world class accelerator in the early days (Techstars), and hustled to gain access to some very meaningful networking opportunities. I don’t feel that if I was a man our fundraising and networking opportunities would be drastically different. No matter how you slice it, building a successful business is a challenging experience, wrought with a multitude of barriers and obstacles that any founder will have to navigate, regardless of gender. While there have been minor instances that have presented challenges from time to time, broadly speaking I don’t think I’ve been treated differently based on my gender.

05. What is the one piece of advice you'd give to other women thinking about starting a company?

I would give the same advice to anyone thinking about starting a company, regardless of their gender. My biggest piece of advice in starting and running a company has always been to be persistent. The one thing every single successful company has in common is that they are still in business. What a simple, yet powerful concept. In startups, many decisions are made under uncertainty and in high-risk scenarios, and the road to building a successful business is never straightforward or easy. Persistence is the key element that pulls a long-standing successful business through the keyhole. No matter how hard it gets, persist. Persist unequivocally through every challenge that faces you throughout the journey.

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