We’re at that point in the startup cycle where everyone wants to be a founder and it’s easier than ever to make that desire a reality. At least it’s easier than every to raise enough money to try it out; building a real business is another matter. And paradoxically one of the threats to building a real business is the intense startup talent war we’ve written about a few times.
Between would-be CTOs and COOs taking themselves out of the hiring market to start their own company and companies like Google, Facebook, Zynga and Groupon throw mad amounts of cash to lure everyone else, finding the people essential to build more than just a clever app is the hardest its been in a decade or more.
That doesn’t just go for coders. That goes for the blue-shirt-and-khaki business guys too. And while location-based shopping app shopkick may not get the same ink as other location based services or have nearly as many users as Foursquare, it just landed a whale of an executive. That speaks to what shopkick’s strength has always been in the heady location based service industry: A clear business model from that actually helps offline retailers.
The company has hired Doug Galen as chief revenue officer. Galen has been building relationships between the online and offline worlds for some twenty years. Most recently he was senior vice president of business and corporate development at Shutterfly, where he helped take the company public and grew the business from 100 people to 1,000 and grew the revenues from $50 million to nearly $500 million. Previously he was vice president and general managers of new ventures for eBay where he helped create eight new business units for the company like Tickets & Experiences and Real Estate. During the Web 1.0 rollercoaster days he was the third employee at E-Loan taking it through its tumultuous growth and IPO.
Like a lot of people Galen sees an inflection point in the intersection of real world, in-store commerce and ecommerce. “Collectively we’ve all spent the last 15 years building online companies to $200 billion in sales, but I find myself getting more and more frustrated with the in store experience,” he says. “It’s time to turn the tables and bring some of the learnings from the online world to the real world.”
shopkick doesn’t want to ignore small, local shops, but its focus is on the big national retailers. That puts it nicely out of the increasingly messy local scrum, and plays to the strengths of someone like Galen who lives and breathes by negotiating big, company-impacting deals. “I love checking in with my friends as much as the next guy, but I’m a guy who loves to build real revenue and real commerce.”
shopkick has had early success signing up pilots with huge national brands like Kraft and hard-to-get retail partners like Target, and recently some of its early partnerships like BestBuy have started to go national. The comparative warm hug from the offline retail industry is because shopkick is one of the only social commerce companies that’s entire reason to exist is driving people into stores and making their experience better. The question is whether big chains will be savvy enough to recognize that.