ShopSquad

Social Shopping Startup ShopSquad Lands $1.25M In Funding From Heavy Hitters

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Exclusive - Social commerce startup ShopSquad has secured $1.25 million in early-stage funding, TechCrunch has learned.

The seed financing round was led by a consortium of individual investors with a wealth of online commerce expertise, including the members of the fledgling company’s advisory board.

Backers include Josh Silverman (former CEO of Skype and Shopping.com), David Sacks (former COO of PayPal, CEO of Yammer), Jeff Fluhr (founder and former CEO of StubHub), Selina Tobaccowala (founder of Evite.com) and Charles Carmel (VP Corporate Development at Cisco).

ShopSquad is a free service that connects shoppers with advisors through live video chat and guided browsing sessions for product advice and recommendations.

By searching for a product on ShopSquad, shoppers can select an advisor based on factors such as community ratings, product expertise, and language. Anyone with proven product knowledge can become an advisor on ShopSquad and earn commissions when shoppers buy suggested products on ‘hundreds of affiliated stores’.

ShopSquad makes money through these affiliate relationships – ecommerce partners include Amazon.com, Diapers.com, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Office Depot, Hotels.com and plenty more. Advisors get a decent 75 percent of affiliate fees generated by ShopSquad.

The startup made its debut at the Launch conference last month. Its alpha product focused on the baby products market, but ShopSquad intends to expand to other verticals soon.

ShopSquad was founded by chief executive Charles Katz, who previously co-founded Connect Group (acquired by Lodgenet in 1998) and 1stUp.com (acquired by CMGI in 1999).

It reminds me a lot of Needle, another venture-backed startup building a ‘guided shopping platform’ that aims to bring together online shoppers and product experts.