This is not the first time Banks has expressed interest in the tech startup community. The former model added an investment sector to the Tyra Banks Company, Fierce Capital LLC, and told Betabeat she would have liked to have invested in startups such as Uber and Airbnb when they first launched.
The amount of Banks’ investment was not disclosed, but The Hunt CEO Tim Weingarten tells TechCrunch the money will go to improving functionality and user engagement. While Weingarten also declined to give specifics of the direction The Hunt is heading, he says users can expect to see new developments within the next few months. Prior to its most recent investment, The Hunt raised $2 million from Javelin Venture Partners and another $700,000 from Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary (Madonna’s manager) and Rohan Oza.
Weingarten’s website functions through “hunts” that users post to find items they want to purchase. Weingarten tells me 75 percent of the time that a user is satisfied with an answer and declares the hunt “found.” However, this majority is solved by the minority of users — 15 percent of registered users aid in others’ hunts. With over 300,000 registered users and 250,000 products added to submitted hunts, a simple and generalized calculation comes out to an average of 55 hunts from each person in that percentage. That’s not necessarily representative of what actually happens, but it’s still a lot of hunts to be solved.
The motivation is supposed to be intrinsic, community-based and what drew Banks into the investment. But its also an opportunity for brands and e-commerce sites that make sales off these hunts to supply them with their own companies’ options. Either way, The Hunt’s model is good for monetization, because users go in with the intent to find and to purchase. Hunts are a useful tool not found on other fashion discovery sites like Pinterest, Polyvore, Fancy and Wanelo, which are more geared toward browsing.
Pinterest is also looking into monetizing social media referrals and launched official company pages and analysis tools in March. Although Pinterest allows users to share pictures of merchandise, it often lacks the access to actually purchase. Other competitors have cultivated strong user bases with Fancy at 7 million registered users and Wanelo at 6 million. As The Hunt builds support from celebrity users and investors, we’ll see if it can keep up the hype, and more importantly, the hunts.