Entrupy, the luxury authentication technology platform, will be joining the third iteration of LMVH’s Le Maison des Startups, an accelerator that has supported 50 new businesses to date and funneled innovative new ideas and services into the luxury conglomerate’s portfolio of 75 brands.
Like many hot startups in fashion today, Entrupy puts artificial intelligence and computer vision at the heart of its platform, which uses a handheld device to identify patterns, material and important product details that determine a luxury item’s authenticity. Capturing product photos with the device serves as a way to fingerprint, or virtually tag, that item, which helps users make sense of patterns over time, CEO Vidyuth Srinivasan told Sourcing Journal.
Technology like Entrupy helps counterbalance the proliferation of counterfeit goods globally, which not only deprive legitimate brand owners of profits but can also put consumers and workers in the supply chain at risk. In its Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, 2018, ResearchandMarkets.com pegs the worldwide value of fake goods at $1.82 trillion by 2020, up from $1.2 trillion in 2017.
And the rise of e-commerce as a channel to peddle knockoff goods has shorn $323 billion from brand owners in 2017 alone, with “high-end consumer goods” accounting for $98 billion of fakes sold online and offline. Luxury brands, the report added, lost $30.3 billion just from counterfeits sold through the web, notwithstanding the scores of shoddy replicas hawked at notorious makeshifts markets, like New York City’s Canal Street.
Entrupy can successfully authenticate the world’s largest luxury labels, from Balenciaga and Dior to Louis Vuitton and Hermès. During its six-month stint with Le Maison des Startups, the tech firm will have a workspace in the world’s biggest startup hub, Station F in Paris, and pitch to LVMH’s brands, partake in expert coaching sessions and workshops, and participate in “informal forums” with relevant Maisons.
Vidyuth, who co-founded Entrupy, said, “Product counterfeiting is a burgeoning issue, especially for luxury brands, and our solution keeps counterfeits from entering the supply chain. We look forward to working closely with such esteemed brands to continue to combat the counterfeiting issue and spearhead the next generation of innovative technologies.”
Companies are attacking the counterfeiting problem from a variety of angles. LVMH is reportedly developing a proprietary blockchain that verify the authenticity of its products and earlier this year Luxochain brought a similar concept to market. Its service is based on blockchain but also incorporates RFID and near field communication (NFC) and fingerprint ID to provide an “incomparable mechanism of transparency, contact, loyalty and i-couponing towards [a brand’s] customers,” the startup said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Aulera see encrypted NFC tags as the smart way to authenticate products, especially in luxury apparel and footwear and high-end outdoor clothing, where it’s focusing its efforts. Encrypted NFC chips are “unclonable,” explained co-founder Nathan Stempel, and can’t be hacked or replicated. When this kind of NFC tag is inserted within a product, its unique ID can only be read by designated servers—in this case, Aulera’s—because of the security of the chip encryption.
These NFC tags afford “the ability to secure product in a very tightly controlled method and to authenticate it as well,” Stempel added.
And while many are bullish on blockchain, especially as a means of ushering in supply chain transparency and verifying product authenticity, Stempel believes distributed ledgers may be a case of technology overkill.
“If you can prove the origin of a product, you don’t have to go through tracing the entire origin to the end consumer,” he explained. “It’s like a dollar bill. If you know a dollar bill is real and was minted by the Federal Reserve, you don’t need to know the 200 people that have held that dollar bill before you.”