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Elevator pitch: Patternsnap, the Shazam of interiors

We gave Patternsnap founder Virginia Fay a little longer than an elevator ride to have a chat about her pattern-finding app.

Patternsnap is what happens when an interior design showroom collides with the digital era.

The app, first launched in 2013 with a web version launching later this year, acts as a digital library of interior samples so designers can save time when searching for a pattern they’ve spotted when they’re out and about.

Think a Shazam for patterns, or a showroom in your pocket.

It works via a pattern-matching algorithm that uses shape recognition to track down and find wallpapers or designs identical or similar to what the user snaps a picture of.

As an architect who runs a small firm out of Mapua near Nelson, founder Virginia Fay says Patternsnap was her solution to being far away from the big smoke and unable to access showrooms for interior design samples. “I was finding it really time consuming to find samples online of different colours and sizes. Patternsnap provides a really quick and easy way of providing samples for clients.”

Like many entrepreneurs, Fay’s business idea was born out of frustration.

She says she’s always been a “closet entrepreneur”, founding her own architecture business prior to starting Patternsnap.

“I tend to get frustrated at things if I can see a problem and can’t understand why it hasn’t been solved. It drives me to make things better,” she says.

When the idea for Patternsnap was first sparked in 2013, Fay brought a developer on board to create the technical framework around the idea.

She also embarked on the huge task of getting suppliers from around the world on board with the technology.

“It’s a two-sided market, so we had to go out and get suppliers to believe in the product. We flew around the world and got global companies on board to believe in what we were doing.”

Now, the iOS app has international brands such as Coleman & Son wallpapers and Signature Prints on board.

A free trial version of the app was launched in 2013 and garnered about 4,000 downloads. Almost another 1,700 people have downloaded the app within the last nine months.

Fay is now focused on promoting Patternsnap’s relevance to the interior design industry globally. With almost 100,000 high-quality samples stored in the database already, it’s well equipped to hunt down a pattern.

But Fay says she wants to grow this “massively” to encompass the millions of wallpaper samples and fabrics around the world.

As well as this, another market she’s tapping into is the B2B market through retailers and showrooms.

Fay is currently creating a white label in-store app for retailers so they can search their own catalogues for patterns, which will go live in the coming months.

Eventually, she would also like to expand the app to include an augmented reality or photo-based tech component for the vast DIY consumer market.

“With Patternsnap’s database, we can see it being used in many different ways, like wallpapering your room and trying before you buy, as a consumer-based use of the technology,” she says.

“There’s a lot going on in the interior design industry with technology and we want to be at the forefront of that - the engine behind it. Using the massive database of products and technology to let people preview before they purchase, that’s a powerful thing.”