We’d better explain that one. Think of Kwoller as a Tinder for commerce, where you swipe right for ‘love It,’ left for ‘leave it.’ The app also learns what you like and what you don’t, so the more you use it, the better it gets..
The company launched at the last TechCrunch Disrupt NYC’s Startup Battlefield, and are now part of the Columbia University Startup Lab, so stay tuned – there’s a lot more to come. Co-founders Tim Bernal (‘14BUS) and Brian Louko (’14BUS) tell us more about Kwoller. (If you’re wondering about the koala mascot, the cute little marsupials happen to be very fussy eaters):
Tell us about the product.
Kwoller takes mobile commerce from utility to social activity through machine learning and a simple and addictive UX to boost conversion and save shoppers money.
Kwoller launched on-stage at TechCrunch Disrupt’s Battlefield in May with not a dollar of funding. Our app provides users with a swipeable UX that shows them the best fashion items, based on our learning algorithm. Each right-swipe is added to a personal Love List that lets users know when items go on sale. The more users swipe, the more that Kwoller’s personal recommendations improve. We formed Kwoller out of Columbia University, assembling an all-star team obsessed with retail, fashion and deals.
How is it different?
To date, most shopping apps have just taken the popular “product tiles with infinite scroll” UI on the desktop and shoved it onto your phone’s small screen. What’s more, they’ve taken the search and filter bars of the desktop and also crammed them onto that same small screen as well. The result is something that’s just not fun to shop. On some apps, it takes as many as four taps, with loading times between each tap, to even see your first product. This often makes shopping on your phone nearly impossible given the interstitial nature of mobile app usage.
Kwoller is designed mobile-first, and this means our users can get their shopping fix anytime: whether they’re waiting a minute for their latte or as they relax on the couch watching their favorite show on Netflix. When you make commerce as easily consumable as we do, it finally makes sense to build a network around it, given the frequency with which our users are engaging with the app.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
Kwoller is attacking the $50 billion mobile commerce market that is slated to double to $100 billion in only a few years. This is only a fraction of the $1 trillion ecommerce market, and when we think about the mobile adoption rates in developing countries, where potential customers are skipping the desktop entirely, the opportunity and potential expands exponentially. To date, this market has not been won and Kwoller is already becoming the go-to solution for shoppers everywhere.
What is the business model?
Our revenue drivers are users, conversion and basket size, from an affiliate standpoint. However, we see Kwoller initially as a B2C play that will ultimately grow into a primarily B2B company. As Kwoller forms deeper relationships with its retail partners, Kwoller can offer up a host of native ad products (ranging from simple sponsored swipes to branded, multi-swipe campaigns) as well as provide services to improve the retailer’s in-store experience using location-aware technologies, such as geofencing and iBeacon.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Without giving too much away about our product roadmap, we will be removing an additional layer of friction currently embedded throughout the mobile commerce market as it exists today. Additionally, as Kwoller’s platform continues to grow, we will expand not only our team but also the number of retailers, items and product categories on our platform and build out the social infrastructure to enable social discovery of items.
Tell us about your experience with the Columbia Startup Lab thus far and your decision to apply.
We founded Kwoller while enrolled at Columbia. The Columbia community has been extremely supportive of our business, not only due to its expansive network throughout NYC but also because a large part of our team was assembled from the various schools on campus. The Columbia Startup Lab is yet another example of the school’s efforts to foster entrepreneurship. Given the challenges every entrepreneur faces when launching a business, the opportunity to continue working with other Columbia alumni made our decision to apply an easy one.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?
Fred Wilson. He is the expert when it comes to building network-based businesses.
Why are you launching in New York?
New York City is the epicenter of fashion and is quickly becoming the home of numerous startups exploring the intersection of fashion and technology. It was such an easy decision to set up shop here.
What are some of your users’ favorite items to ‘swipe’?
We have optimized our experience for how people actually shop. When we initially spoke with our users, we realized that some items are not optimized for ecommerce, such as pants, because people typically like to try them on before making a purchase. Given the time of year, our users love to swipe through many of the dresses and skirts that have more of a summer flare to them. Shopping is about taking risks, so the diversity of Kwoller’s product base allows us to serve up a wide variety of items that not only fulfill the everyday clothing need but also provide users with that head-turning outfit that they may not have found on their own. Also, we are really excited about a few new features we recently dropped. Based on customer feedback, we added the ability to filter by retailer and product type, as well as share items with friends. We are already seeing the effects these features are having on our users’ shopping habits.
Which NYC gesture do you use more: hailing a cab or hailing a bartender (if the latter, what’s your favorite bar)?
Hailing a bartender, of course. As far as favorite bar, we built Kwoller on a shoestring and that is very much deliberate, given our proclivity towards deals and seeing how far we can stretch each dollar. As such, we like deals in and out of work. The Sportsman at the Levee accompanied by some cheesy poofs can’t be beat.