Michael Musandu is the CEO and founder of Lalaland. Lalaland creates synthetic, photo-realistic human models for fashion eCommerce brands, enabling brands to showcase collections on diverse models. In June 2021 Google selected Lalaland.ai for its European Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.
Michael grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa before heading to the Netherlands to study computer science at the VU and earning a Master in AI at Utrecht University. While shopping for clothes online Musandu had the experience, as many do, of never seeing someone like himself in the smiling fashion scenarios that were presented on his phone and laptop. For Musandu, it was yet another example of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the world he saw around him. His response? He used his knowledge to build the “people” he never had a chance to see.
Like any good technologist, and in his case a technologist with a focus on machine learning, Michael went about finding a way to create the world he rarely saw – one which reflected himself. The result is a company, Amsterdam-based Lalaland, which generates hyper-personalised ethnically and body-size inclusive models.
Lalaland won the 2020 Philips Innovation Award and works with well-known brands such as Wehkamp, Stieglitz, Sapph, Dockers and Adidas. The company was featured in Forbes, Het Parool and RTL News.
As it turns out, Lalaland not only addresses the diversity and inclusion problem, helping brands to attract new customers, it also reduces the return rate significantly, and thereby reducing costs and environmental impact.
Michael has a talent for explaining complicated tech subjects to a lay audience, earlier presentations include:
Seeing yourself through Machine Learning, Michael Musandu at the AWS Podcast.
Michael Musandu at the finale of the Philips Innovation Awards:
Michael Musandu at Breaking Science, Universiteit van Utrecht, april 2019