Live shopping may not be as popular in the US as it is in other parts of the world, but BOND founders Maddie Raedts and Sam Robinson think they’ve cracked the code with a platform inspirational shopping that focuses on the influence of the creators rather than the product. -directed.
For Raedts and Robinson, “inspiration-driven” means taking a creator and content-centric approach to live shopping and putting the “creator in the driver’s seat and at the forefront of the experience,” Robinson said. BOND provides a place where creators can connect with their audience in a more interactive way, then with a frictionless shopping experience.
“BOND connects creators, brands and consumers in more premium lifestyle categories,” CEO Raedts told TechCrunch. “For the first time, there is a platform that aligns all the incentives and is the missing piece of the puzzle that didn’t exist before. Based on the incredible traction we’ve already gotten from our creators and brands, the hunger is here for something to happen in this space.
Before starting the company in 2022, Raedts, who has a background in influencers, fashion and beauty, was founder and former chief creative officer of influencer agency IMA, which was acquired by S4 Capital in 2019. Robinson has a background in operations and previously led Soho Works’ North American deployment of Soho House and worked in operations and strategy for WeWork’s expansion into Japan.
The company launched its platform on Tuesday with more than 65 creators and 50 brands already signed up. Some of the creators include Valeria Lipovetsky, Kit Keenan, Allegra Shaw, and Alyssa Lynch. Together, these initial creators have an audience of over 35 million people, Robinson said in an interview.
Attracting new customers has become more difficult in recent years due to privacy regulations and new technologies which have increased the cost of acquisition. So much so that Business of Fashion reported that “brands spent more than three times as much to acquire every customer in 2022 as they did in 2013.”
BOND is in a crowded space working to solve this problem. The space includes social media giants, like TikTok and YouTube; retailers like Walmart; and commercial technology companies including NTWRK, WhatNot, PopShop Live, ShopThing, Upmesh, buywith, Firework and Drip. Others, like Instagram, started doing live shopping and then decided to shut down those programs when they weren’t gaining popularity.
It also means that creators and brands need to get creative. In traditional marketplaces, creators share their story on social media and then sell on separate platforms. With BOND, creators can engage with consumers through live content or pre-recorded content that continues to sell as long as the product is available, Raedts said. Shoppers can view designer profiles and explore products.
At the back, BOND manages post-purchase data and operations information, including logistics, customer service and returns. Additionally, APIs connect to a brand’s real-time inventory so the brand can use BOND as a new sales channel.
In terms of revenue, BOND gets a small brand take rate on every product sold on the platform, a portion of which goes to creators.
“Creators have an incentive to sell products to their audience,” Robinson said. “Brands are encouraged to participate in the platform because they see it as a new channel. And shoppers are incentivized because they have a new way to experience products and be inspired.
The launch follows a $2 million pre-seed investment that closed earlier this year. Nordstar led the round which included participation from Day One Ventures, Nomad Capital and a group of individual investors including Daniel Gutenberg, Intermix Founder Khajak Keledjian, Magic Mind Founder James Beshara and Mint House CEO Christian Lee.
The company plans to use the new funding for product development, hiring additional employees and overall growth.
“We are absolutely committed to launching and making our product really great,” Raedts said. “New features will be released at a regular cadence that will focus on improving the experience for shoppers, the brand and customers. You will see data personalization and a loyalty and rewards program. In the long term, we see BOND as the ultimate destination for discovery, entertainment and commerce by integrating BOND into people’s daily lives.