A ’Vishion’ of the Future - Christopher Newport University


A ’Vishion’ of the Future

Sam Smith builds startup she hopes will transform online shopping.

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Sam Smith
Sam Smith

A 2011 communication graduate, Sam Smith has spent the past seven years laying the groundwork for her startup company, Vishion, which is slated to launch in February of 2019. She plans for Vishion to be a mobile application that uses every color seen by the human eye and combines it with data on customer inputs and fashion trends to suggest outfits or décor. “Acting as a personal digital shopper, the application will automatically improve through every interaction by machine learning,” Smith explains. “As it improves its color data accuracy to match items, shoppers will be able to use Vishion to create the ideal outfit or room.”

Smith’s idea for the company came via a “honey-do” list. “My husband suggested we try to purchase nightstands in a particular shade of green to match the room,” she says. “I searched for hours online looking for items that could match that shade and, after realizing my efforts were fruitless, I decided to try and fix the problem myself.”

Smith set to work on researching the necessary components for how and why Vision could alter the shopping industry. “The struggle to find items that match is made abundantly clear when you realize the human eye sees 10,000,000 colors, but shoppers usually only get to select from an average of 16 color categories,” she says. “As I searched for a tool to help me with my nightstands, I realized there isn’t a single method available to search for home décor or apparel by specific color, which is odd when you consider 85 percent of shoppers say color is the primary reason for choosing a certain product.”

By late 2017, Smith had created the framework for the company and began bringing on the first members of her team, one of whom was a fellow CNU graduate, Michael Platt ’11. “He lived next door to me in Santoro Hall,” Smith says. “When I started looking for developers, LinkedIn sent me a notification that it was his birthday. So, on a whim, I decided to browse through his profile and soon discovered he is an unbelievably talented developer. After contacting him he quickly came in to build our website and the beginnings of our programs.”

Vishion now has two developers, two bloggers, a social media intern and advisers from companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Nordstroms and Houzz who assist with business and product development strategy. With a functional prototype of the application completed and a fundraiser underway, Vishion is well on its way to becoming a reality. “Our ultimate goal is to be a personal shopper in your pocket,” she says. “You should be connected with the products you want and control how you purchase them.”

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