Minesh Pore

Minesh Pore


BuyHive Co-founder and CEO Minesh Pore on Learning How to Surf the AI Wave

BuyHive bills itself as “sourcing made easy,” and with the help of Artificial Intelligence it grows ever easier, according to its CEO and co-founder, Minesh Pore.

Pore is one of the apparel industry’s early adopters of AI and sees a bright future for its possibilities. He is presently developing a new company called SourcingGPT.AI, which will harness the new technology to do things like find and compare fabric suppliers and request samples, and where “what would once take hours can be done with the click of a button.”

The California Apparel News recently caught up with Pore, who splits his time among Southern California, Hong Kong and Shanghai, to learn more about how AI is poised to infiltrate all aspects of the apparel industry, back end to front, accounting to design, and find out what he thinks human roles might look like in this brave new world.

CAN: What is the definition of Artificial Intelligence as you use it? What makes it “intelligent,” and how is it different from conventional software?

MP: I think of it as a data-processing tool that can do things faster than the smartest human being. I don’t think of it as software but rather as an engine, as a mind outside my mind that helps me make decisions faster. The way I see AI, it’s a powerful engine, but it needs to be fed. And the fuel that it eats is data, or information in a form it can digest. It will never have emotional intelligence, but we humans can use its IQ, which is beyond ours, to power our day-to-day lives. AI is a wave, and you need to learn how to surf it.

CAN: Some people are understandably apprehensive about all this.

MP: I understand that, but if you replace every article written in the 1990s about the “Internet” with “AI,” you’ll get exactly the same thing. Try it. And yes, it does have revolutionizing power and can get out of control, but we can either keep getting scared of it and be out of the game or understand the challenges and risks and ask ourselves, “Okay, now how can I use it in my business.”

CAN: What possibilities do you see for AI in fashion companies?

MP: Fashion companies are not just doing fashion; they’re also doing mundane tasks like accounting, recruiting, production and marketing. Right now there are tools for accounting, and one or two years down the line you will not need an accountant. Design started as sketching, then went to AutoCad or Illustrator, and now there are tools to just enter a concept and AI will design the item for you—fabric, color, shape—based on your description. Why pay a designer 30 hours wages to design something when you can pay $50 a month for a subscription to a design tool and say, “I don’t need this person.” But the importance is not replacing the people, it’s the quickness in a fast-moving world. You can also use AI to automate production, marketing, social media. At the end of the day, it’s the faster you can make product the faster you can bring it to the shelf and the more you will sell.

CAN: How are you using it at BuyHive?

MP: Recruiting, for example, used to take a long time, but AI can do it in a few seconds and in multiple languages. With the company I’m developing called SourcingGPT.AI, we’re basically replacing the job of a merchandiser. We want to make their jobs easy and efficient for things like comparing suppliers, where a whole process that would take 40 hours can be done in a few seconds. All the mundane tasks that don’t need too much brains, just standardization.

CAN: What will humans do at the fashion company of the future?

MP: You, the entrepreneur owner, will make better margins, have more time for your family and can work out of the Bahamas. The company keeps running, and you can trust that it is following your standard operating procedure. As for people who are not entrepreneurs, their jobs will change. They will not be the designers but will verify the information. They will earn more and not have to work as many hours. I see it as improving the quality of life for people today; that’s what we’re going toward.

CAN: You sound like an AI advocate.

MP: I’m not an AI developer—and by the way it costs about $1 million to hire one—I’m just seeing the technology grow, how I can use it and how being scared is not going to stop anyone from developing it. Can you stop Google or Elon Musk from what they’re building? No, so try to learn as much as possible and get on board and try to take advantage of what they’re building.