A startup from Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone is in the running for an award at this year’s Canadian Startup Awards, as the public voting stage is underway.
Blynk, a personal styling app that generates outfits based on what users like and dislike, is nominated for the accelerator graduate award alongside five other startups. With nominees chosen mostly by the public, the award recognizes successful startups that have graduated from accelerator programs—programs that mentor and foster the rapid growth of its affiliated companies and entrepreneurs.
“I don’t believe people should copy other people’s style or follow trends,” says Jaclyn Ling, CEO and co-founder of Blynk. “I believe if you love a certain look or item, but it’s not in trend or season, you should still wear it. We’re trying to encourage the fact that everyone has their own personal style and to help them discover what exactly their style is.”
Ling, who graduated with a finance degree from McGill University last May, received office space from the DMZ after participating in The Next 36, a Canadian accelerator program for students and recent graduates with innovative ideas.
The fashion app uses the swipe left, swipe right function made famous by Tinder, but replaces the faces of potential suitors with outfits for a variety of occasions. After a certain number of swipes, the app uses machine intelligence to create an algorithm and “learns your style,” recommending entire outfits for users to buy or feature on their online profile page.
Free on both Android and Apple devices, Blynk sources photos from blogs and social media accounts, but also receives content submissions. The challenge for Ling, however, is making sure everything on Blynk is consistent.
“One thing that frustrates me about other social media sites like Pinterest is if I’m searching for a photo, the results are sometimes inconsistent,” she explains. “If I’m searching for a fashion photo, I might get something that’s architecture or design, but also fashion. For us, we really want the content to be good quality.”
Although Ling says there’s still a lot of work to be done—such as providing more content on the app and growing the user rate—being nominated for this award validates the team.
“Working in a startup, you go through lots of ups and downs,” Ling says. “You need to focus on the ups to keep yourself going. Something like this, especially to start off the year, is definitely a good motivator.”
Last year, the Canadian Startup Awards saw over 36,000 finalist votes in two weeks. Voting for this year’s award show ends Jan. 25, and winners will be revealed the following day.