Tech-savvy shoppers who look to their friends for purchasing inspiration, can already turn to platforms like Pinterest, Fancy, Fab and plenty of others. But with a Flipboard-like app for the iPad that aggregates social activity across shopping sites, New York-based Pickie believes it can get in on the social commerce action, too.
The startup, which is a recent graduate of TechStars New York, is announcing on Monday that it is launching in Apple’s App store with $1 million in seed funding.
The round was led by DFJ Gotham, and included Betaworks, Liberty City Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments and MESA+. It also included several angel investors, such as Buzzfeed president and COO Jon Steinberg, TechStars New York’s former managing director David Tisch, SessionM CEO and co-founder Lars Albright, Highland Capital Partners’ Andy Miller and Epsilon EVP Eric Stein.
We first covered Pickie back in June, when it was still in beta but already an interesting entrant into the growing social commerce space. Recognizing that more startups and established companies would marry social features with e-commerce, Pickie’s pitch was that consumers would want one destination that would filter through all of the social recommendations and highlight the most interesting and relevant items. In addition to showcasing the products at the center of social activity, Pickie layers in original content, as well as eventually more content from publishers, to give it an editorial identity.
“Long-term, the plan is to build out content and make it feel more like a magazine than a catalog,” said co-founder and CEO Sonia Sahney Nagar.
When users first sign in to the app, they indicate their gender and top categories of interest. Then, Pickie integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites to identify the products that are attracting the most attention from users’ friends. From that social data, the app generates a custom magazine of items, enhanced by relevant articles. For now, Sagar said, most of that additional content is produced in-house. But over time they plan to expand with more content from third-party publishers, so that a drop-waist dress could appear alongside a Glamour article on the trend or a book could be featured with a New York Times book review.
For now, the company makes money through affiliate commissions. But, down the line, Nagar said, the plan is to host transactions and charge a fee, as well as work closely with retailers to offer dynamic catalogs through the app.
Personalization and social are two huge trends in e-commerce, so Pickie is hardly without competition. The startups mentioned earlier, as well e-commerce giant eBay (which recently acquired New York-based Svpply) all want to be a place where consumers discover products. And Google Catalogs and CoffeeBook both provide a tablet-based magazine-like experience for browsing new items (although they’re not as focused on social curation). Pickie may be a helpful app but it remains to be seen whether consumers feel like they need an aggregator when they can just go to the sites they know well directly.
Still, similar to how Flipboard found success by using social data to assemble a personalized magazine for news, Pickie could draw in users with a personalized magazine for shopping. And, as I’ve mentioned previously, Nagar and her founding team seem to have the experience that fits their goal. All three co-founders are engineers who previously worked at Amazon, Microsoft and Applied Predictive Technologies (a big data company that works with top retailers).