Not sure what to buy? This social commerce startup offers reviews and recommendations from people you trust
Everyone has an unpleasant online shopping story.
Mithun Adith’s involves a bachelorette party. A close friend who had ordered shoes online for the occasion got a pair that did not fit, and the duo needed to rush to a nearby store at the eleventh hour.
“So many people spend so much time on purchase decisions. And even after so much effort, they end up choosing the wrong products,” he tells YourStory.
An entrepreneur with a failed venture, Mithun saw promise in solving online shopping hassles and founded SpotKwik along with Anusha Sundar in September 2019.
SpotKwik is an online shopping platform that lets users buy products after reading reviews and recommendations from people they trust – friends and family who have tried and tested the products.
Meet the team
Hailing from the town of Erode in Tamil Nadu, Mithun calls his first startup Hiring Equations a “blockbuster failure”. A mechanical engineering graduate from KSR College of Engineering in Tamil Nadu, he worked as a project engineer at Wipro.
But the entrepreneur in him did not enjoy working a 9-5 job. He soon quit the corporate life and worked with startups like property discovery platform HousingMan and product development and digital services firm Appiness Interactive, before starting SpotKwik.
His co-founder, Anusha, a civil engineering graduate from KSR College of Engineering, is the “data person” heading operations at SpotKwik.
How is it different?
Headquartered in San Francisco, social commerce platform SpotKwik weeds out most problems associated with online shopping. Leveraging Augmented Reality (AR) filters to facilitate virtual try-ons, the fitting can be shared with friends and family individually or in groups via an in-built messaging service for instant feedback.
To do away with relying on reviews posted by strangers but still get opinions from outsiders, the platform features a community of influencers called ‘Friendfluencers’. This status is achieved on invite-only basis and users can reach out to them for feedback or read their reviews.
The app keeps track of the user’s purchase patterns and those who buy frequently are selected as creators. The founders believe this enables influencers and content creators to promote products that are value for money.
With affiliate partners like Amazon, Flipkart, and Nykaa, most products from these platforms in categories such as fashion, beauty, personal grooming, and lifestyle and priced between Rs 750 and Rs 2,500, are available on SpotKwik as well.
Several merchants from Bengaluru are also selling on the platform; the startup earns commission from every sale.
The platform gained 500 users within five days of launch in January this year and now has more than 6,000 shoppers with an average of 500 recommendations each day. It hopes to break even by December 2021.
One of the key challenges the founders faced was building the right team. Not having sufficient capital initially to fund a team that can turn an idea into a go-to-market product was quite challenging.
COVID-19 became a major hurdle just as the startup was gearing up for sales. As inventory was hit, SpotKwik shifted focus by partnering with local vendors and is now facilitating last-mile delivery.
“With the world adjusting to social distancing, our concept of try, socialize, and shop from home is the new normal,” Mithun says.
Funding and market landscape
In August 2020, the social commerce startup raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Silicon Valley-based investors. The founders claim that the fund raised SpotKwik’s valuation to $700,000. The startup is now in talks to raise its pre-Series A round.
An incubatee of NASSCOM 10000 Startups, the founders believe that it has no direct competitors in the market. While there are dominant players like Amazon and Flipkart in the ecommerce market as well as selling platforms like Meesho and Trell, Mithun says SpotKwik’s features to help with purchase decisions are unique.
“Most reviews on these platforms are planted and not completely reliable,” he says.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai