First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Maria Makarova: It’s a difficult time for everyone in the world. We are limited in personal networking and communications. Most of the business has gone online, and we all have to learn and adapt to the new reality.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Gfaive.
Maria Makarova: Ever since I got my degree in Business Administration and Management, I was thinking about how what I can do to help the fashion industry to be more sustainable. I dove deep into the issue and realized that the core of the problem lies in the overproduction. Fashion brands, having an unclear picture about the demand for the new collections, overproduce and afterwards have to utilize or discard the unsold items. So I decided to focus on the pre-production phase to help fashion brands produce only items that they can sell. Thus we have founded Gfaive, uniting people with the same beliefs.
How does Gfaive innovate?
Maria Makarova: We develop Smart forecasting platform for Fashion retail to help brands optimize pre-production. During the unstable economic situation and uncertain future, we give an opportunity to fashion merchandisers to understand how their current decisions will influence the company’s KPI in the future and help them to make the right choice now to have the best outcome in the future. We use ML technologies and Neural Network to combine historical data with external factors and trends, to provide science-based analytics and forecast. Our easy to use online platform supports brands in 3 blocks: Assortment matrix, Item evaluation and Buying support.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Maria Makarova: Due to the unprecedented economic situation some of the brands, we worked with, went bankrupt. Seeing all the challenges fashion industry experience due to COVID-19, we have adopted our solution to help brands cope with the uncertainty of the future in the best possible way.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Maria Makarova: As travelling is limited, most of our business communication with brands and partners has gone online. It’s not a secret that business development used to be built on personal communications. However, now being locked in our country, we lack this opportunity to travel and meet with our international customers. We had to learn and develop new means to go to the international market with our solution and communicate our features and uniqueness. We have learned that any limitations are only in our head and that there is always a way out of any unusual and difficult situation, you just need to think “out of the box”.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Maria Makarova: Stress and anxiety come from unknown. Whenever we encounter such a situation, we are looking for possible scenarios it can develop: best and worst.
And afterwards, you just get prepared and develop a plan for various scenarios. And then stress and anxiety step away when you already understand what you are going to do in one or another situation.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Maria Makarova: We enter the pretty busy marketplace of demand forecasting solutions. However, we mix into our solution, something that no one else is doing:
– First of all, we are completely focused on fashion: develop and train our models on the business processes specific to this industry.
– Then we mix of historical brand’s data with relevant external factors that have an impact on the accuracy of the results
– We combine the individual approach of customized development with the ease of integration and usage of on-line solution
Your final thoughts:
Maria Makarova: It is a difficult time for everyone in the world. The fashion industry has been impacted by COVID-19 consequences like no other. Yet it’s a good time to change the approach of doing business. The old way is not working anymore; it’s time to rewire!