Business Startup Spotlight: Nomad


Nomad solves the problem of shoppers abandoning their search efforts by enabling users to find products simply by taking a picture or image of what they want. Ultimately this reduces processing time and cost while improving accuracy.


Co-Founder, Ethan Reid

 Name: Nomad

Location: San Francisco Bay Area


Product / Service Offering: Shazam for Products

Co-founder Interviewed: Ethan Reid

Other Key Management Team Members: Devin Mui, Pulkit Mahajan

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?

I am a sophomore in high school with a love for technology. I am fascinated by the futuristic tech that now powers our world. Of all these technologies, computer vision is the one in which I am most passionate. I see high opportunity to change the way computer vision is done so it can be market ready. This drive to build and further tech is what motivates me.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

I established Nomad about nine months ago. The idea for Nomad came from an augmented reality project I did in early 2016. The solution consisted of scanning an object and then a 3D model would appear in which you could interact. When I applied the idea to retail, I found a problem. The problem was scalability due to the high levels of accuracy required to identify an individual item. From there Nomad was born. We set out to find a way to quickly train large databases of products with just a few images per product while still retaining accuracy.

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What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

For our customers, we seek to solve the step of discovery. It is easy to order and pay for a product online, but the discovery has never really been improved beyond hunting for a product via menus or item types. If you see a product you like but don’t know the brand or model, it can be difficult to purchase it and often causes shoppers to abandon the effort. Nomad solves this problem by integrating into platforms and enabling users to find products simply by taking a picture or image of what they want.

The Key to Startup Success: Customer Discovery

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?


Pulkit Mahajan

Nomad is distinct from our closest competitors, Slyce and Clarifai. Our solution can be trained on a very small number of images due to our conversion ability. We take an image and turn it into thousands of new sub-images allowing a detector that would take a huge set of pictures to train for one product to be done with only a few original images.

Ultimately this reduces processing time and cost while improving accuracy. Additionally, our solution can be used in an inbound or outbound environment. The above scenario is an example of inbound where an image is sent to Nomad to be identified within a client database. Our outbound solution allows a client to provide images to us and then we identify those products externally using social media platforms. For example, a brand may want to track the release of a new item and see how often that specific item appears in pictures posted on various social media sites.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I faced was fitting everything into a small amount of time. As a high schooler, thirteen hours of my day is already taken. In the remaining time of the day, I have to fit Nomad in. It is constantly crunch time. This has brought about a constant hurdle of trying to balance work and school.

Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

I think the most useful resource is a simple email. We have made so much progress by just emailing people and asking questions.  If you have a problem or a question, just ask.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

We have not yet secured funding. We have received some financial help in the form of hardware from companies such as NVIDIA.

Do you have the 9 Constituents Investors look for?

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Luckily, we have access to many industry experts.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

We are always struggling with tech. We have such a big goal that when progress is slow it seems nearly impossible.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?


Devin Mui

I am a firm believer in the power of a personal email. An email that details your problem and why you need their assistance can get you an immense about of free help. When Nomad got started we were lost on how the tech would work. I had read a really interesting paper on computer vision and reached out to the author. He replied back with all the information I needed to get started and he ended up following us on our journey. This has happened a few times by just sending an email.


Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.