In December 2016, Amazon launched the world’s first unmanned store Amazon Go. In line with this, AISSGO, the startup in Pangyo Technovalley, the Silicon Valley in Asia, challenged Amazon Go with its AI unmanned sales platform.
Amazon Go is like a large store run by a global company called Amazon. In contrast, AISSGO targets niche markets by using idle space and remaining space in small stores, putting win-win relationship with small business owners in front of company profit.
At the Pangyo Technovalley Startup Campus, we met CEO of AISSGO Park Jin-seok to listen to its deep-learning AI 24-hour unmanned sales platform “AISSGO” for work-life balance of small business owners.
Q1. Company introduction
Park: We started our business with the goal to show the “magic of sharing 1-pyeong” to small business owners with the onset of the hope project to beat the recession. With the AI unmanned vending machine AISSGO, we are seeking to make smart stores and ultimately complete unmanned store by installing unmanned vending machines in the small business owners’ stores and idle spaces.
Q2. Features of AISSGO
Park: AISSGO is an AI 24-hour unmanned sales platform service based on deep learning. We completed the development of smart vending machine by introducing a computer vision and mass sensor to a small vending machine, and we built the unmanned store system by placing these vending machines in idle spaces. The cloud-based unmanned vending machine connected to POS service provides authentication, purchase, and payment one-stop, and business owners can even analyze customer and sales information through big data analysis.
Especially, the payment system is installed in each vending machine, so the AISSGO unmanned vending machine can be installed anywhere with just one pyeong of idle space. The vending machines currently out on the market only sell one or two types of products (coffee, beverages, flowers, hygiene products, etc.), so if the products to be sold were to be changed, the whole vending machine had to be replaced. Business owners can freely replace the products anytime with AISSGO by AI learning (deep learning), and it is easy to operate and manage it because the AI camera automatically recognizes the product even when there are no separate price tags on the products.
In Korea, there are still many restrictions on unmanned alcohol sales, making it difficult to make it. AISSGO was selected as a special regulatory sandbox demonstration company by acquiring the TI-3 grade in the NICE TCB technology evaluation in 2020, and was able to complete the AI object recognition alcohol vending machine. We have established a system that can safely sell alcoholic beverages to adults by facial recognition and telecom authentication.
Q3. Future plans?
Park: AISSGO has been selected as a smart super technology supplier by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, and it will help change the culture of offline stores, including smart supermarkets, restaurants, and cafes for the work-life balance of small business owners.
The government plans to establish 20,000 smart stores nationwide and more than 1,000 smart supermarkets this year. Since we have been selected as a supplier, AISSGO vending machines will be installed across the country starting this month.
By running the demonstration project for two years, we have been able to get a lot of feedback from the field. Last May, we opened the first 24-hour unmanned store at the Hyundai Knowledge Industry Center in Godeung-dong, Seongnam-si. For this reason, we intend to present a new non-face-to-face startup model that can be started in a small space of four to five pyeongs.
Q4. Strategy to enter overseas market
Park: Currently, the country we want to advance the most is the US. We are preparing this year to enter in 2022. For this, we signed an MOU for partnership with Microsys International, a local company in the US. We are communicating with this company in the US. We are going to incorporate there to enter the market.
In Korea, we are seeking ways to enter the US market together with Xinova Asia, and our first goal is to open AISSGO in Seattle, the hometown of Amazon. With our Korean-style unmanned store, we want to compete with Amazon in the home ground.
Q6. Reasons for settling in Pangyo
Park: We can form partnerships with companies based in Pangyo, and we can get various opportunities for exchange. I also think that we can create great synergy if products with ingenious ideas from the startups are sold by using AISSGO.
Also, Pangyo is where fast-changing companies in AI and ICT fields are gathered. I settled down in Pangyo because I can read industry trends, make quick decisions, and can establish cooperative relationships with other IT companies.