By Tom Leung, Yabbly founder and CEO
Elevator Pitch: Yabbly is an online community platform and iPhone app for making better product decisions.
Our vision is to become the most trusted, valuable and engaging place to make shopping decisions. We look at the ways consumers make product decisions today, analyze where it’s painful and reinvent with our own tools. Each tool is optimized for the product research and decision-making journey. Rather than ‘Googling,’ reading 100’s of reviews on Amazon, or posting an uncomfortable status to ask your friends on Facebook, Yabbly Q&A allows you to ask questions soliciting recommendations from its shopping community, matching with answers from like-minded users.
Our journey started when I was buying a camera in 2011 and discovered what a horrible experience it was. I relied on Amazon reviews, which could be written by anyone, and the majority of reviews didn’t address my needs. I was tech savvy but wasn’t a camera aficionado, wanted something that shot well automatically but also allowed me to use manually as I learned, and took awesome pictures of my kids. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an easy way to pick a camera based on my personal criteria. Given my background at Google and Ian Shafer’s (our engineering lead) background at Amazon, we were uniquely positioned to solve this problem.
To date, our promotion strategy has been word-of-mouth and enabling the community to share their use of the service through social networks. We also get volume traffic from search engines because our content is unique, timely and high quality. This enabled us to pass more than 25,000 product recommendations on Yabbly this week.
It’s a massive opportunity, given consumers spend nearly $5 trillion on new products annually, and social commerce will grab a $30 billion piece of that pie by 2015. In addition to the market leaders in social networking—like Twitter and Facebook—which are moving into social commerce, there are over 2,000 startups on AngelList categorized as ‘social commerce’ businesses.
How We Differentiate From the Competition
To differentiate from this competitive landscape, we launched last year as a ‘Quora for product recommendations.’ Today, we are building a suite of web and mobile tools that improve how we make product decisions. We’ve just launched Yabbly Lists for mobile. Yabbly Lists for mobile enables those using Yabbly on their iPhones to share and recommend products with other users that are looking at similar items.
We plan to monetize the platform through sponsored content and offers from retailers, and potentially with premium subscriptions for users. Today, we are manually working with retailers like Best Buy and Banana Republic through social media to incorporate their suggestions into Yabbly user product questions and lists. In the future, this type of interaction could be automated for retailers to aim highly-targeted offers to shoppers.
We’re currently focused on growing our community of users through the holiday shopping season. We’re improving our iPhone application and desktop web application experience to do so. However, we’re always on the lookout for great talent to join our team!
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Founder: Tom Leung
Investors: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Rudy Gadre, Chase Franklin, Dave Song, Serena Glover ($1.5 million total)
Year Founded: 2012