This NYC Startup Has 1.5M Members to Help You Discover New Products



The people who you want to know are the influensters. Influenster is a product discovery platform and reviews site that enables consumers to find new products, and gain fresh insight and tips about new products so that all members can make better informed shopping decisions.

And we’re talking five million plus honest product reviews from 1.5M+ socially active trendsters, on over a million products for consumers to discover.

There’s also a gamification aspect to it, allowing trendsters and influensters a chance at receiving more new products. And because influensters are hipsters, too, of course there’s an app for it.

“We help our members compare products and guide them on how products can be integrated into their lives. We inspire a love for products and encourage discovery, conversations and reviews,” said CEO and cofounder Aydin Acar, who happily tells us more. .

Tell us about the service.

Influenster is a product discovery platform and reviews site that enables consumers to find new products and get advice to make informed purchases. Members visit Influenster to browse through products, pick up new tips and exchange opinions with others. We inspire a love for products and encourage discovery, conversations and reviews.

How is it different?

Our gamified platform defines our brand strategy and differentiates us from the competition. Unlike other review sites or influencer marketing services, we uniquely bridge that gap by offering full product integration into our members’ lives. We invite members to answer surveys, write product reviews and participate in challenges to earn badges that are displayed on their Influenster profiles. Earning badges builds their reputation and status on Influenster, increasing their chances of receiving more products in the future as part of our social sampling initiative. This encourages our community to develop intimate relationships with the brands and integrate these products into their lifestyles.

Aydin Acar and Elizabeth Scherle_Influenster Cofounders

Aydin Acar and Elizabeth Scherle, Cofounders, Influenster

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

We are going after all consumers who are product junkies and review mavens. As a rising number of consumers trust word-of-mouth more than advertisements, there is a huge growth potential for the product discovery and reviews market. Brands are eager to tap into this movement and maintain strong online profiles.

What is the business model?

We partner up with brands like Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal, eBay and many more to facilitate direct connections with influential consumers to generate reviews. By targeting subsets of our community of social media influencers and sending them product samples, we invite them to test and review the products at their own will.. We also offer them other exclusive rewards campaigns such as interactive Twitter parties, giveaways and sweepstakes, as well as digital coupons.

Our members who engage with these products choose to write reviews on Influenster and spread the word through their social media networks, becoming brand advocates whilst creating product buzz. This wealth of information also arms our brands with real-time data and valuable market insights.

Moving forward, we are aiming become the go-to source for product discovery and reviews. We’re debuting a redesigned website and mobile app next week that will allow for a more immersive, social experience with products.

What inspired the business?

My cofounder, Elizabeth Scherle, was working with Fortune 500 clients on product sampling campaigns while I was working at a market research firm when we both realized there was a distinct need for brands to collect targeted consumer feedback more efficiently. There was this inherent gap in the industry. Hence, Influenster was born with the ideology of activating consumers in their social media networks while feeding marketers with the real-time data and feedback.

According to your data, what are some of the cool products for the summer that we must check out?

One of our most popular products, the Keurig 2.0 K250 Brewing System, offers over 500+ varieties of coffee from 75 brands – keeping one’s morning coffee ritual varied and interesting. Also, the Hair Food Conditioner is this summer’s go-to product – it hydrates from the roots while protecting the rest of the body of hair. And of course, the Apple Watch has sparked conversations in our reviewer community and is definitely the ‘it” accessory right now.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?

A growth in community to 2 million members and revenue run rate of 15 million dollars.

What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?

As entrepreneurs, institutional investments seem like the Holy Grail. That’s not entirely true and we were never advised otherwise. Elizabeth and I had initially met with investors during the early stages of Influenster, until we realized that we could make money on our own if we just focused our efforts on selling our service to brands.

If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?

Bonin Bough, for sure! As the SVP, Chief Media and eCommerce Officer at Mondelēz International, he has always stayed on top of disruptive marketing trends and draws energy from startups. I’d be honored at the chance to chat with him.

Why did you launch in New York?

New York has a soul unlike any other city. It’s experiencing a renaissance in technology and entrepreneurship, and we want to be a part of the action. And most importantly, NYC has an ecosystem of our current and dream clients, as well as the pool of brightest minds to hire from.

Where is your favorite outdoor bar in the city for a drink?

Northern Territory in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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About the author: AlleyWatch

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