My Cool Stem Career

The idea for her company Plum Perfect came to her after monitoring color quality assurance for a product at Honeywell. She remembers thinking about the difficulty of navigating the colors of cosmetic brands as a dark-skinned African American woman. The idea was fleeting, but it reoccurred to her years later while working at Deloitte Consulting doing finance work. She envisioned a product where a user uploads a photo of their face and based on their skin, eye, hair, and lip color, the software engine would color correct the photo, extract the visual information, and then recommend cosmetics that complement the person. So she wrote a business plan, built the software in her spare time, and tried it out on friends and family.

Venture capital firm Kapor Capital caught wind of the idea and contributed toward Ahmed’s friends and family angel round of funding and the building of a website for beta testing. The 33-year-old Ahmed has also been inducted into Astia and Women 2.0; two high-profile Silicon Valley incubators for high-growth, women-owned technology startups.

The company has established revenue sharing relationships with some top brands and retailers. Now with a team of four that includes color scientists, sensory experts, and software engineers, she is relaunching a rebranded, more powerful website and mobile app for beauty and cosmetics. This fall she will add color matching for fashion, in which the engine will recommend complementary products such as ties for shirts; home décor will follow in 2013 with suggestions such as throw pillows for couches.

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