Wanelo, the hot social ecommerce startup that is reportedly raising new funding at a valuation north of $100 million, joined us in the TechCrunch TV studio to talk about how the company is NOT a Pinterest for products to buy, the company’s fast growth, and, of course, whether the startup is raising new cash.
Founder Deena Varshavskaya tells us that Wanelo is really about social shopping and creating an ecommerce experience that allows users to not only curate their own favorite products to buy, but also discover new ones. The company hopes to make online shopping about people, not about the stores themselves.
Wanelo allows you to bookmark items that you like and allows you to buy those items via direct links from the site. It is not a Pinterest, as Varshavskaya explains, because the site is based around discovering items you can actually purchase.
In terms of discovery, you can search for specific items, see categories of items (i.e. dresses, shoes, bags), see items that are trending (have been liked the most), items from your friends and more. You can also see top stores, top profiles, and more.
Wanelo (which is derived from Want, Need, Love) aims to be a network of stores, products and people that connects buyers to all products. Varshavskaya tells us above that she saw an opportunity to create an ecommerce experience that was designed for long-term engagement, by allowing users to organize all of their shopping and finding new items they may like online.
Since launching two years ago, the site has quietly accumulated 6 million registered users (70 percent of which are active, visiting the site monthly), and is one of the most downloaded apps on the App Store. Currently there have been 5 million products posted in Wanelo that have been saved 700 million times. In fact, 8 million products are being saved each day.
And brands are catching on. Varshavskaya says that retail chains like Urban Outfitters and Free People are flocking to the site to set up storefronts. The benefit to brands is that users are using the site to purchase items, so conversion rates are reflective of that mentality. Wanelo makes money from affiliate fees via each purchase.
Varshavskaya, who ended up leaving Cornell University two classes short of graduating, says her life really started when she left college. She started a video-based online casting directory, which never really took off. She then pursued UX design at a social network, and then opened a design agency, but started thinking about what was lacking in the online shopping world. Wanelo was born.
And about those funding rumors…Varshavskaya says that the company is well-funded to grow, and wouldn’t comment on whether they have raised.
It’s clear from talking to Varshavskaya that there is much more to come from Wanelo from a product standpoint. In her view, the company is only getting started, and there’s still a lot more Wanelo can do with personalization and curation. The one problem she has solved that many startups face is high and frequent engagement–which is why it’s no surprise that VCs are champing at the bit to get a piece of the company.
Tune in above for more.