Krush Comes Out of Stealth, Driving to Own the “Product Graph” for Action Sports Fans, Brands

6/9/11Follow @gthuang

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Facebook’s social graph—it is the tangled online web showing which people like which types of brands and models, where they are, and how these entities are all related to each other.

Krush has attracted more than 10,000 beta users so far. And for now, it’s free for brands to use, though the startup will charge for certain levels of data—things like more detailed product trends across cities, for instance. The company has also set up its site to pre-sell certain products that aren’t on the market yet. Krush also tries to emphasize that it is doing the opposite of Groupon and other discount group-buying sites, as well as flash-sale sites: it is trying to get ahead of the product curve rather than sell surplus goods.

“We want to help the brand get it right, and get out in front of their product line, so they don’t have to dump products for 80 percent off at the end of the season,” Ashe says.

Krush was founded in early 2010 and has nine employees. It is backed by a combination of angel and institutional investors from Boston to Tennessee to California, having raised a $2 million Series A round at the end of last year.

My take is that the startup is an interesting effort to cash in on young people’s penchant for expressing their individuality through the products they like. Thanks to social media, brands are a more visible part of people’s identities than ever before. So, on one hand, the younger generation might seem depressingly commercial. On the other hand, with software like Krush, their personalities and tastes could help drive new products and trends, instead of the other way around.

None of this matters to Krush as much as signing up more users and brands, and generating more buzz. “We want to see how to put it in a bottle and scale it,” Ashe says. “We want brands to mobilize their own fanbases to drive the future of their business.”

And ultimately, Krush wants to owns all of that data about consumers’ preferences (though I suspect Facebook will have something to say about that). So if the company can draw a big enough following in the coming year or two, it could be on its way to building something very valuable to brands and marketers, who are all trying to find new ways to get closer to their customers.

“This is huge,” Ashe says. “It’s like a giant ethnography experiment with a market that loves to showcase the brands that reflect who they are.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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