Sensei, a Lisbon-based startup using AI to digitize brick-and-mortar retailers, raises 500K in pre-seed funding from European investors.

Founded in 2017 by Vasco Portugal, Joana Rafael, and Paulo Carreira, Sensei has developed algorithms that turn any installed camera into a powerful sensor, which allows brick-and-mortar stores and retailers to digitize their products and measure real-time customer experience.

The funding comes from Germany’s Metro Group, Portugal’s Sonae, and from new investors including Techstars.  Sensei is an Alumni of Techstars Metro Retail Accelerator Berlin 2017.

digitize retailers

Vasco Portugal

“Our mission is to digitize physical stores; we want to create smart stores that intuitively understand the needs of every customer and employee to deliver a shopping experience that is more convenient and personalized than ever before”, said Portugal, CEO at Sensei.

The startup out of Lisbon provides retailers with accurate in-store analytics and insights ranging from traffic flow, store benchmarking, products performance, out-of-shelf detection and allows for optimized operations and to drive more sales.

digitize retailers

Greg Rogers

“Everyone talks about the rise of online shopping and quickly forgets that close to 90% of retail sales are still done in brick-and-mortar stores.  In Sensei, Techstars invested not only in rock star founders with deep category expertise but also in their focus to bring in-store shopping into the digital age where the data captured makes the experience for both the retailer and the shopper feels truly optimized,” said Greg Rogers, Partner and Executive Director, Techstars.

The current round of funding for Sensei will be used primarily for international expansion and further product development.

Sensei has a 360º business overview, empowering and optimizing the resources available and building a customer profiling to adapt and improve interactions between staff and customers. This process is completely anonymous and in compliance with GDPR standards.

digitize retailers

Olaf Koch

“In a digitized world, e-commerce players get detailed insights into their customers’ wishes and behavior and are often ahead of the game. However, brick-and-mortar retailers were mostly not able to gain comparable information until now – although this is highly relevant to better understand their customers and improve the shopping experience in their stores,” said Olaf Koch, CEO of Metro AG.

“Sensei now offers analytics that help the brick-and-mortar retailers to better understand the customers, to see what drives their shopping and to implement tools that make the store’s sales grow. We believe that Sensei is really generating value for its customers and are convinced that their story will continue,” he added.

Through this technology, Sensei is able of change the way things happen on the offline retail world, where 90% of transactions still happen. By increasing product availability on shelves or improving efficiency through store chain operations, Sensei is poised to help reduce $1.5 trillion in losses that retailers have every year on replenishment or out of stock products.

digitize retailers

Alexandre Santos

“It is important, for us, to support startups like Sensei, that are working with emerging technologies and a disruptive value proposition in the global market. Sensei attracted us with the ability to innovate and the talent of the team,” said Alexandre Santos, Sonae IM Head of Portfolio Development.

“This synergy for us is fundamental when it comes to investing, because only in this way can we be sure that we deliver a solution capable of having a positive impact on companies”, he added.