Graduating from business school is an accomplishment, but launching and running a startup while in business school? Well, that is something to be proud of. Especially when the startup is as well received as Snapette.
Founded by two Harvard Business School graduates, Jinhee Ahn Kim and Sarah Paiji, Snapette is a mobile shopping app that helps users find and share fashions available in nearby stores. Partnering with over 200 brands and retailers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo and London, Snapette aims to give shoppers the inside scoop on products, sales, and in-store events. For brands, Snapette acts as a real-time and targeted marketing platform that helps drive foot traffic to stores and grow a customer base.
Having just recently relaunched, we were excited to sit down with Jinhee and Sarah to ask the pair a few questions of our own.
TWF: What inspired you to start Snapette?
Jinhee: When my family moved to London, my first activity was of course to explore London’s infamous boutiques. To prepare for my shopping weekend, I Google searched for about two hours until I found a list of places I wanted to visit. I then had to write down the store addresses and proceeded to plan my own route. Once I was actually in the maze of London’s streets, I was completely lost and wondered why there wasn’t an app for women shoppers to navigate shops around them in real time. The experience was frustrating from a consumer perspective, but it also dawned on me that a ton of foot traffic into stores is deterred by the difficulty of easily searching and discovering nearby stores.
Sarah: The core vision of Snapette was to create an app that could help shoppers find great products and stores near them. Initially we were crowd sourcing this information from our strong community of passionate female shoppers who were taking photos of their shopping finds and tagging them with location. Boutiques and major brands quickly recognized that Snapette was the perfect platform for them to reach shoppers nearby, and so we quickly evolved from a purely social platform, to working directly with a wide range of retailers from top boutiques like Curve and Otte, to large retailers and brands such as Nordstrom, Theory, Nine West, Rebecca Minkoff and over 200 others.
Jinhee: Social media managers and store owners now manage their own Snapette accounts and we’ve been really excited to work with national brands like Nordstrom and Ann Taylor on campaigns that use Snapette’s geofencing technology and active social community to send foot traffic into stores. Snapette’s ability to send shoppers into stores is a clear conversion that advertising has struggled with for decades and we’re able to solve that problem with the app.
TWF: What value does Snapette have compared to other companies in the fashion tech space?
Sarah: Snapette is the first and largest location-based mobile app focused on shopping. There are many established sites and apps that help you find nearby restaurants and food, but still relatively unchartered in terms of fashion retail. We’re so excited about all the ways that mobile will transform retail and the huge opportunity to leverage mobile and location information to help shoppers both discover and search for great nearby products and stores.
Jinhee: A stat that really grabbed our attention when we first started was that 90% of retail is still bought in the real world versus online. We identified a huge opportunity to help direct shoppers into stores and make the offline search and discovery process easy and simple for shoppers.
Sarah: We now have over 2,000 retail locations tagged to the Snapette app and that number grows on a daily basis. We’re seeing great traction throughout the United States in addition to Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. It’s so thrilling to have helped create a global community of women who share their shopping finds and love discovering hidden boutiques gems, as well as large stores around them.
Jinhee: With our global user base on Snapette, we realized that we needed to make the shopping experience even easier for them by incorporating the in-app purchase. The novelty of being able to easily click to buy a cute pair of shoes you find in a boutique in Geneva, a shirt in San Francisco, and a necklace from New York, all from your mobile phone, is really astonishing and speaks to the new connectedness of the world. The true innovation here is that mobile is leading the global connectivity over the web.
TWF: What has been the hardest obstacle for you in starting Snapette? What has been your favorite part?
Sarah: Since Snapette is still very much so a startup, work still takes up most all of Jinhee and my waking hours. So when I do have some free moments, I really try to make the most of it. I have become very good at carving out time, however small, during which I unplug completely from work. For example, if I am eating dinner with a friend, I do not check my phone or email. Of course if it’s absolutely necessary and I am awaiting an important message, I’ll make exceptions- but I’m not saving lives here. Work can wait one hour. I try to keep Friday nights and Sunday mornings free from work, no email or phone.
Given that it’s hard to separate work and personal life, I really like how comfortable I am in sharing many aspects of my personal life with my team. I love the fact that we are all not just co-workers, but good friends as well. We know a lot about each other’s lives and frequently talk about our families and significant others. It’s something that I think is very unique and special about being at a small, early stage startup. Given we do spend so much time at work, I’d hate to have to neglect or block out my personal life while I am at work.
Jinhee: We also love being at the forefront of a very exciting space and an interesting time in the evolution of tech and retail. Everyday we’re thinking about how we will bridge online and offline retail through a uniquely mobile platform.
We’re working on creating something that utilizes new technology in the very old brick and mortar retail industry, and we really believe this idea has potential to disrupt the offline shopping experience. I also enjoy the team we get to work with everyday. It’s a grueling demanding pace and having this group of people on the team (who have become like a family) makes each day a very positive experience. //
You can download the free Snapette app for Android and iPhone here: www.snapette.com/app
Kellie Friedman is the Research & Editorial Intern for TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.