Startup Spotlight: Former Microsofties launch BevyUp to let friends shop together

The BevyUp team

Would you have more fun shopping with a buddy?

BevyUp founders Mauricio Cuevas, Brian Toba, Chris Rallo and Reymarx Gereda think you will. The Seattle startup company, which is emerging from stealth mode today after more than a year in development, is launching what it calls a new platform for “contagious commerce.”

The ultimate goal is to recreate the social shopping experience of bricks-and-mortar retail at e-commerce sites, injecting some of the social elements found when shopping with a friend. The service allows two or more people to shop together online, utilizing text messages, emails, video chat and other communications tools.

“Shoppers that want to browse and buy online with their friends and family are currently resorting to tools that were not designed for shopping — like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — to try to make multiparty purchasing decisions,” says Cuevas.

We caught up with Cuevas, a former senior product manager at Microsoft, for the latest installment of Startup Spotlight.

Mauricio Cuevas

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “BevyUp allows two or more to shop together online.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I was bed-ridden following surgery. My sister asked me for help purchasing a video camera online. We spent nearly two hours exchanging URLs via email and text, talking on Skype and separately browsing websites. We still weren’t able to come to a consensus and make an online purchase. That’s when I knew there was a business opportunity to create technology that helps shoppers browse and buy items online together.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We are angel funded, but are raising a Series A round from institutional investors in the near future. Angel funding is easier and typical for a seed round.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “It’s secret, I can’t tell you. Seriously, we have an amazing team with experience in several online industries like: Search, travel, video conferencing, ecommerce, big data and gaming. This combination of talents has allowed us to turn a task like online shopping into a fun and social experience.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Shut up and listen: Listen to customers, advisors, partners, employees, etc. Great ideas sometimes come from unexpected places.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not running enough experiments at the beginning. We took care of that. Data is the greatest equalizer.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Difficult to say, I have great respect for all of them and the impact of their work. However, given that BevyUp is all about the intersection between social and ecommerce, having Mark and Jeff in our corner would be fantastic!”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “We can publicly announce the big name online retail sites that are currently testing our service.”

Rivals should fear us because: We have created a platform that brings together all the capabilities necessary to make collaborative online shopping possible and provides retailers with visibility into shoppers’ sentiments and buying preferences for individual products. This intelligence has not been available until now.

We are truly unique because: “Some products offer bits and pieces of what the BevyUp service does, but no one else provides a complete solution. Furthermore, we provide retailers with intelligence on shoppers’ sentiments and buying preferences for individual products. Until now they have been unable to access this information because it was buried in Facebook pages, email messages or phone conversations.”


The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Attract and hire a really smart and committed team. We aren’t done yet, and yes we are hiring. It’s not a surprise for companies and entrepreneurs here in Seattle that hiring talented people is getting tougher.”

BevyUp Screen Shot 1What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “You have to believe that your idea is better than anything else in the market right now. I mean you have to be totally convinced that your vision will create value for all the parties involved: Customers, partners, employees, investors, founders etc. You have to believe that although you don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, you are absolutely sure you’ll find them along the way. If you aren’t convinced of that, keep your job and lead a relaxed life. Creating a company is an incredible rewarding experience but it’s a lot of hard work, learning and sweat.”

Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Pacific Northwest startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out this questionnaire in a fun and engaging style that shows off your startup’s culture. (Remember to upload photos). Past profiles can be found here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vikas.khandelwal Vikas Khandelwal

    congrats Chris and the rest of the BevyUp team!

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      Thanks Vikas!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Murch/705204492 Steve Murch

    Not sure “having fun shopping together at Macy’s” is the best example, but I think there’s a very interesting application for something like this in travel, where the benefit isn’t so much fun as it is efficiency and utility-maximization.

    Ever try to plan a ski trip (or big getaway) with a bunch of friends? Tons of phonecalls, email and hassle. Would be easier if you could get all the households online at once and figure it out.

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      Steve,
      Thanks you for your insights, all the scenarios you mention are totally valid. Currently, we are either working with or pursuing sites in most of those industries. Our technology enables a collaborative shopping experience, which can be efficient, fun or both depending on the site’s product and audience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=94500172 Kyle Kesterson

    I may be the only one wanting to ask these questions, but why don’t you have any women on your team?

    Do you solely rely on outside feedback, or do you think it isn’t crucial to have someone constantly thinking about your solution and direction who is much more likely closer to the problem than most guys will ever be?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on it. Best of luck in your venture either way!

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      Thanks for your comments. I couldn’t agree more about the
      importance of having women on our team. We are currently hiring engineers and designers and we’d love to have talented woman fill these positions. Our product is based on volumes of feedback and online behavior we’ve gathered (and keep gathering) from women. We take that very seriously.

      Btw, if you have a referral, please send her resume our way.
      (jobs@bevyup.com).

  • Squarely

    Men love shopping? and together in the mall?
    Good luck

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      That’s funny and a common perception. However, our research shows that men want to collaborate too, especially when they need advice (electronics, power tools, or jewelry for a significant other) and to consult with friends or family on travel, real estate and car purchases. As a rule of thumb, the shoppers and shopping goals vary by site. Thanks.

  • Jakkson Wilbanks

    When I was a kid, I used to go through the newspaper’s sale ads and circle the toys I wanted for Christmas so that my folks could see what I wished Santa would bring. It looks like this would cut out the middle-man and unite Mom, Santa, and I together to collaborate on gifts. Very cool.

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      Thanks Jakkson, that’s cool!

  • Brandi Svenning

    Why is that dog not part of your branding? Too cute!

    • Mauricio Cuevas

      Thanks, we’ll let Annabelle know :)

  • seattle

    is anyone on your team a former employee of Bevy Inc (seattle based social shopping startup)– looks like they weren’t around long but were funded by Madrona back in ’07

    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/bevy