Pinfluencer, as you may have guessed by its name, is a newly launched startup offering an analytics solution for the up-and-coming social network Pinterest. Prior to today's public debut, several brands have been using the service in private testing, including 1-800-FLOWERS.com, GNC, HauteLook, Piperlime, Rent the Runway, Minted, Beau-coup, Shop It To Me, and wikiHow.
Alongside the launch, the company is also announcing it has closed on $1.4 million in seed funding in a round led by Freestyle Capital and Baseline Ventures, and which included investment from angel investors Jess Engle (former CEO and co-founder of CoTweet) and Mark Ghermezian (Appboy CEO, and whose family owns Mall of America), and others.
Like many building analytics for the Pinterest platform (see bottom of post here, e.g.), Pinfluencer gives brands the ability to track metrics around pins, in order to see which ones are trending, who the brand's most influential pinners are, and which boards are the most popular, among other things. But it goes a bit further, too, and allows brands to compare their efforts with those of their competitors, to see who's pinning the most, what the top pins are, or who's getting the most pins and re-pins, for example. This last bit is important, because it's the ability to compare one set of efforts with another that helps provide the context. It's still early days for Pinterest, so it's not common knowledge what constitutes “good,” or at what threshold something can be deemed having gone “viral.” In total, Pinfluencer now tracks over 25+ performance metrics.
Founded in February 2012, Pinfluencer's co-founders include CEO Sharad Verma, who previously led product management for Yahoo's social search and monetization and who started TripAha and eventsTonight; Suvda Myagmar, who was previously a relevance analyst at Bing; and Naveen Akunuri, who founded e-commerce site Sheyna, and whose experience includes key roles at Yodlee and SendMe.
Verma says that up until January, he was working on eventsTonight, a mobile app to discover nearby entertainment, and it's there he began experimenting with Pinterest to find out if people liked to pin events. “What we noticed instead was a humungous amount of product sharing on Pinterest,” he says. “That's when it occurred to us that Pinterest is a database of shopping intent, it's another home for a retailer's catalog. We got really excited about its potential to transform the way e-commerce is distributed and discovered.” So he brought the team together and they created Pinfluencer in just five months' time.
And lest you think Pinfluencer is just another bandwagon-jumper, Verma stresses that Pinterest is not a fad. “It replaces what women have been doing for ages – clipping images and putting them in a binder,” he explains. And it will continue growing, especially internationally, he says, because pinning images is a common language. Pinterest also has time-spent and shopping intent, he adds, “but its core demographic is women who make all the purchasing decisions.”
Studies have shown that women are indeed Pinterest's core audience. But Verma says he thinks the service will eventually expand from that. “There are more categories on Pinterest that appeal to female audience than males today, but we think that will gradually change.” Men might be slow adopters on Pinterest, the way it's designed today, he says, but he's certain that Pinterest is now thinking about how to tap into male psychology and give them strong reasons to use the product, too.
Pinfluencer's pricing is on a SaaS-basis and not set in stone yet, with tiered levels based on number of pinners per month, data storage, and other features, but companies can try it out for the first two months for free.
Going forward, the team will use the new funding for product developments, which, in the near-term includes a self-serve platform for retailers to reward their most engaged pinners. Further down the road, they'll develop “top on Pinterest” widgets to add Pinterest-infused social shopping to retailers' own websites. The company is also using the infusion of capital to hire in sales, marketing, engineering and design.