If buying a fragrance in-store has left you feeling confused and overwhelmed, you’re not alone.
Husband and wife Madeleine (Mads) and Ankit Patel have solved that problem through their new online business venture, Speak Scents.
It uses data combined with algorithms to match people with their perfect aroma. The algorithm looks at more than 700,000 combinations to find the two best matches.
Once it has made a match, it’s a matter of ordering samples or products and waiting for the postie.
“It’s like having your own personal fragrance shopper that delivers to your door,” says Mads.
Speak Scents was born from Mads’ own frustration with buying fragrances in-store.
“Growing up in Christchurch with three brothers and a mum who used Impulse, I had never been part of that world. Yet it fascinated me. When I wanted to treat myself to something nice, I didn’t know enough about fragrance and felt intimidated.”
With a background in marketing and advertising, Mads saw the need to create a fun, playful brand. She had already completed a few perfumery courses.
Using that knowledge and Ankit’s skills as a data scientist, she knew they were well-placed to make waves in the fragrance industry.
“We wanted to challenge the norms of an outdated and celebrity-based category,” says Mads. “We could see how we could use statistical models to help make better decisions for a category that was super confusing.”
Despite seeming worlds apart, the pair has found that mixing data with perfume is a winning combination.
As Ankit explains, perfume is ‘big data’. The thousands of different scent notes in perfume make it easy to apply modelling techniques and predictive analytics. Through data, the process of finding a quality scent is enjoyable, stress-free, convenient, and affordable.
Speak Scents launched after two years of research and development. The pair also went through Creative HQ’s incubator programme for start-ups. They had to hunt down a master perfumer to help design and formulate the range. An Auckland formulation factory helped bring their vision to life.
Today, all eight perfumes in the Speak Scents range are made in the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, France. Each order is bottled in the bottling facility the Patel’s built in their Wellington home.
Feedback has been positive and the algorithms that create the scent profiles are spot on.
“The concept absolutely resonates with our customers so far,” says Mads. “We love having two different ways of thinking coming together to create something unique that we believe can disrupt on a global scale.”