Will Chomley, CEO and Founder of Imagr
From finance professional to re-imaging the future of how we buy our groceries, Will and the team at Imagr are working on the cutting of edge of technology and taking some very impressive strides. Having raised a further NZD $14 million in January led by Toshiba Corp, the future of Imagr is looking very bright.
Will's attitude to helping foster tech talent in New Zealand is inspiring and judging by how his employees speak about the company culture it is more than just mere words. Thanks for sharing your story, Will.
How would you explain to a five year old what it is that you do?
We make magic shopping trolleys, that can see and speak and know exactly what you’ve put in them. And, to top it off, you don’t have to wait for ages at the checkout - you just get to walk out with all of your delicious snacks.
“We make magic shopping trolleys, that can see and speak and know exactly what you’ve put in them.”
Was building a tech company something you dreamed about doing as a kid? If not, what was?
As a kid, I really just wanted to be my Dad. When I realised that probably wasn’t going to happen, I pivoted to the natural next best thing (and still my fallback option), a professional tennis player. So no, I guess as a kid, retail tech hadn’t quite captured my imagination yet!
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and what inspired you to start Imagr?
It was a combination of a few things really, most prominent being some pretty long hours in my finance job, with minimal time for lunch, and having to wait in queues at the Woolworths downstairs - eating into my already short lunch break.
Then by my nature, I have a natural inclination to enjoy risk which drives a willingness to try concepts that may result in failure. So when I started looking at removing checkouts I went after it...and I failed. My first attempt was with a technology that wasn't going to work - RFID. I then looked at vision recognition (circa 2015) and decided to back it.
What do you hope Imagr will look like in five years from now?
I see our product becoming a household name, the retail landscape pivoting to grow in a new direction towards less friction and better user experience. As for our team, I’m already floored every day by the work they do, the collaboration and the support, it boggles the mind to think about their growth and the milestones they’ll reach in five year’s time.
How does Imagr build and develop talent and elevate people to be at their very best?
We’re extremely deliberate in building a people-first culture. Nowadays, who you work for forms part of your identity and it’s extremely important to me that Imagr is somewhere that people are not only proud to work, but that it opens doors for wherever they want to go in the future. We hire the very best talent and then get out of their way, we encourage big ideas and treat failure as a valuable learning tool.
“Culture to me means the people come before the product. No politics, and no unnecessary hierarchy. We look out for each other, we lift each other up..”
What does culture mean to you and how do you ensure this culture is maintained with everyone at the Imagr?
Culture to me means the people come before the product. No politics, and no unnecessary hierarchy. We look out for each other, we lift each other up, and we teach each other wherever possible. One of my favourite things about the team at Imagr is their passion and willingness to share when it comes to their particular field of expertise, whether they’re trying to explain something super technical to me, or mentoring a more junior member of the team.
It’s really heartwarming. One of the things we look for when recruiting for our team is people who are unselfish with their time, and truly care about their teammates. It’s “win together, lose together” around here.
In addition, we’re big supporters of people bringing their real selves to work, no need to dial down your personal brand of weird to come to work here.
What kind of person will succeed at Imagr?
It takes all sorts, we’re a pretty eclectic bunch. But there’s a common thread - to thrive here you have to have a relentless work ethic and passion for our mission.
“If you don’t have the experience we’re looking for for a particular role, but you feel like you could really make an impact here, please apply.”
Lastly, as Imagr continues to evolve, what kind of talent do you want to hear from in the coming months?
We’d love to hear from people from a wide range of backgrounds - engineers (hardware, software, AI), product people, finance, operations, customer success. We’ve got a lot of new roles coming up so keep an eye on our careers page, and if you can’t see anything there that suits - pop an application into our Expressions of Interest pool.
If you don’t have the experience we’re looking for for a particular role, but you feel like you could really make an impact here, please apply. We just may be willing to take a chance on you! We really do value diversity of thought and unique points of view.
We always like to know what your passion is, what gets you out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t have to be work-related, but it gives great insight into who you are, how you work, and the lens you might look at our problems through. So we encourage you to work this into your application, what makes you unique?