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.
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.”
What’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.”