Wikets Targets Mobile Shopping with Social Recommendation App
Last summer, when Lexington, MA-based Wikets revealed via an SEC filing that it had raised $1.5 million in funding, its website said it was building technology for users to share ideas with people they trust.
Late last week the startup announced an update to its now-live mobile social shopping app, so I caught up with founder Andy Park to talk about how the company has evolved since that first funding announcement.
“We started with the concept where we would actually create a platform where users could share information in a much more streamlined fashion,” says Park, who founded Wikets with a few other fellow alums from BladeLogic, a data center automation tech company that was bought by Houston-based BMC Software for some $800 million in 2008. He says the idea was to eliminate the need for e-mailing URLs or attachments and create a much more mobile-friendly interface for sharing information.
After the startup pulled in its $1.5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Battery Ventures, Park says it refined this vision to focus specifically on developing a mobile platform for product recommendations. Shoppers can browse inventory of the roughly 80 retailers Wikets has on board—like Amazon, eBay, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes—and buy from directly within the app. Users can create “wikets” that seek product recommendations from the community around specific categories. Some of the wikets I spotted within the app queried the community on affordable decorations for a teenager’s room, must-read books, and a quality iPhone case.
“We really geared it towards creating community—-a shopping community that would make recommendations around products and services, beginning from the blank slate with just friends and family and founders,” Park says. About 3.5 million recommendations have been made on the app to date.
Users can also earn rewards points when products they recommend are purchased, and then redeem those for gift cards. “It’s like a credit card rewards program, but instead of being tied to one credit card it’s tied to a mobile app,” Park says.
While many of the social shopping apps draw recommendations on clothing and “aspirational” fashion items, the majority of products pushed through the Wikets platform are everyday household products that are about “improving people’s lives”—things like vacuum cleaners, children’s toys, and other family-oriented goods, Park says.
Ultimately, Park says, his app provides a more authentic shopping experience than other platforms branded as mobile shopping.
“Most mobile shopping is really what we view as mobile ordering—you go to a mobile browser or download a single retailer’s app and look for a product to buy that you’ve already researched,” he says. “Mobile shopping is much more than that—it’s a trusted shopping network for constantly discovering great products.”