Shopping App Spring, Founded by Fab and Techstars Alums, Has Arrived

8/19/14Follow @jpruth

It may be the tail end of summer, but Spring has bloomed.

The New York-based startup launched its shopping app late last week, giving consumers a mobile way to discover and buy products directly from brands and designers.

Currently available for iOS devices, Spring is a bit different from other marketplaces that sell curated items, says CEO Alan Tisch. The service is mobile-only; the mix of products sold through the app includes luxury brands and up-and-coming designers in categories such as apparel, beauty, and house wares. New products are featured daily on the app and consumers can choose brands they want to follow. “We want to offer consumers the convenience of using one app to shop for their entire lifestyle,” Tisch says.

With their credit-card information stored on the app, shoppers can make purchases with a single swipe when they see items they want. Spring gleans transaction fees on purchases, which Tisch says get cut in half if brands offer free shipping.

The idea for Spring, he says, came from frustration felt by consumers and brands in e-commerce. Though more and more people connect to the Web through smartphones, trying to buy products through these devices can be clunky, Tisch says. “It’s harder to create an experience that fits on a four-inch screen than on a desktop screen.”

For instance, the checkout process on phones becomes tedious, he says, if consumers must repeatedly enter their billing and shipping information. Moreover, Tisch says online consumers lose the window-shopping aspect of discovering new products in the real world. “If you know what you want, you can go to Amazon or Google and type it in,” he says. “The goal for us was to recreate that experience of walking around SoHo, where you might get inspired,” he says.

Spring Brand Shop ScreenshotSome brands, Tisch says, have not been nimble about adapting to the rise of mobile devices. Further, he believes consumers are not keen on using a different app for each brand in mobile shopping. E-tailers who sell multiple brands have dominated in mobile, he says, but there has been a lack of personality in their digital marketplaces. Spring lets brands bring their distinct character to e-commerce, he says, by letting them choose which products get sold through the app. “We’re working with over 450 brands, many of them do exclusive products,” Tisch says.

E-commerce is a highly competitive industry, of course, and sites such as Gilt and Fab already sell curated products. Fab, once a darling of the New York tech scene, has stumbled and said recently it held informal talks for a possible a sale.

Tisch, who worked briefly in operations at Fab, says Spring sets itself apart by curating groups of brands for customers rather than specific products. He also says the diversity in pricing at Spring helps differentiate it from other marketplaces. “On Spring, you’ll find a $7 lipstick all the way up to a $75,000 necklace,” Tisch says.

A self-described e-commerce junkie at 13 years old, Tisch would buy multiple pairs of Nike sneakers, and then quickly resell them for almost double the price. “I was one of the first power sellers on eBay,” he says. After college, he went to work for then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help make the city more tech friendly—that included launching the NYC BigApps competition.

Spring was co-founded in 2013 by Tisch; his brother and company chairman David Tisch, the co-founder and former managing director of Techstars NYC; chief technology officer Octavian Costache, who had been an engineer at Google; and chief marketing officer Ara Katz, who was on the founding team of BeachMint.

So far Spring has raised $7.5 million in funding. The list of investors backing Spring includes Thrive Capital, Box Group, Founder Collective, Google Ventures, Groupe Arnault, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Novel TMT, Plus Capital, Slow Ventures, and SV Angel, and individuals such as Aaron Levie, Andrew Rosen, Gary Vaynerchuk, Ivanka Trump, Joanne Wilson, and Strauss Zelnick.

Looking ahead, Tisch plans to bring the Spring app to tablets and Android-based devices, expand to international shipping, and add more product categories. “For the moment, our focus is on getting the mobile shopping experience right,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth