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Wantworthy Is Wanted: The “Instapaper For Shopping” Raises $1 Million From RRE, Google Ventures And Others

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Wantworthy, a 2011 TechStars NYC grad offering an online shopping tool for tracking everything you want to buy in one place, has just raised a $1 million in seed funding. RRE Ventures led the round, and Google Ventures, Quotidian Ventures, and several NYC-area angels also participated.

Although on the surface the company might appear to be competitive with Pinterest, various bookmarking tools, or even Amazon’s Universal Wish List utility, for example, Wantworthy has a bigger vision. The long-term goal is not just to be a place where you collect things you want to purchase, it will also tell you when to buy them.

CEO Lauren McDevitt says she came up with the idea because she was an avid online shopper. “I was constantly finding products I liked, but wasn’t ready to buy in the moment,” she says. “The whole process was kind of a mess. I’d have a whole bunch of tabs open. I’d try to bookmark the links – which obviously wasn’t very efficient. I wanted a tool that would help me keep all the products I wanted when I shopped online in one simple list.”

Some might say that’s what Pinterest is being used for these days, but co-founder Josh Wais explains the two services are actually quite different once you scratch the surface. Most users on Pinterest are not saving things from outside the site, he says, they’re using Pinterest for discovery instead. This changes the nature of what people tend to save. “They save aspirational stuff,” he says. “What we see with Wantworthy – some of our top stores are Forever 21, ModCloth, Urban Outfitters – it’s real shopping.”

Another big difference is that the lists on Wantworthy are private by default, and the sharing functions – which will arrive next week – are also completely different. “We didn’t want to slap on some cheesy social model,” says McDevitt. “We looked at the way people were organically using Wantworthy, and we found they were sharing links with maybe five to ten closest friends and bookmarking them. We wanted to foster that experience,” she says.

With the sharing features, it’s not about repinning or reposting links. Users instead can invite their friends to give feedback. In addition to support for comments, the items will have three buttons which friends can click: “must buy,” “like it,” and “meh.”

What’s even more exciting (at least to heavy shoppers) is what the team is working on next: price alerts. With this feature, expected out later this fall, Wantworthy will alert users to when prices change. And that’s not necessarily implying a drop or when an item goes on sale, but any change. Further down the road, the company will work with individual retailers to alert users to inventory level changes, such as when something is running out of stock, for example. And it will help retailers connect with their customers through offers and promotions, to encourage them to move from “thinking about buying” something to actually buying it.

The site launched into beta following its debut at TechStars NYC’s demo day in October, so it’s too soon for them to talk user numbers, the founders tell me. However, they will talk engagement numbers, which indicate that at least its earliest adopters are fairly active. Users save, on average, 12.5 items per week, and conversions are “orders of magnitude” higher than the industry average of 2%-3% (which Wantworthy tracks via its current affiliate model). The top products saved tend to be apparel, accessories, home goods, and beauty products, which also speaks to a certain kind of shopper – yes, generally women.

With the additional funding, the focus will be on developing the new features sooner than later, through the additional of two or three more engineers.