Fetch, a mobile app that connects users with personal shopping assistants, launched today onstage at Disrupt New York.
Users can simply open Fetch and type what you want, record yourself saying what you want, or take a picture. Fetch has trained assistants on the other end who will look at your request, find the best price for the product you want, and order it for you.
When Fetch founder and CEO Tom Hadfield showed me the app last week, he typed out “Gillette Mach 3 razor blades.” We waited a couple of minutes, and an assistant showed us the lowest price, then ordered it through Hadfield’s Amazon account.
“Buying should be as easy as describing the product that you want,” Hadfield argues. He explains that mobile purchases currently only make up 10% of all e-commerce, and a huge portion of the interface we use for e-commerce was invented for browsers, not the mobile web.
Hadfield grabbed the audience’s attention during his presentation today by taking his shirt off and purchasing the same shirt on Fetch faster than his teammate did on Google Shopping Express.
With heavyweight competitors like Amazon and Google Shopping Express, I’m skeptical of how great a need there is for Fetch. The most compelling aspect of Fetch for me is the ability to get help from an assistant if I don’t know where to buy the product I want. Hadfield explains that if you take a picture of someone else’s shoes or bag or other products and explain in some detail what it is–especially the brand–the assistants can usually find it for you.
Hadfield argues that this human element will differentiate Fetch from automated services.
“Amazon is the 8,000 pound gorilla in the room,” he says. “But we think Amazon’s reliance on algorithms is its fundamental design flaw. I’m less concerned about anyone who’s taking an algorithmic approach.”
Fetch currently has 50 people trained as shopping assistants on the platform. The buying assistants are paid per transaction, and Fetch gets an affiliate commission from merchants.
Hadfield has founded three companies before Fetch. He founded his first company, Soccernet, when he was in high school; Soccernet later sold to ESPN for $40 million.
The company has raised $2.3 million in seed funding from Kapor Capital, Black Green Capital, Tamarisc, Cane Investments, Beechwood Capital, Thatchstone, Ryerson Futures, Tom Rutledge, RP Eddy, Michael Foster and Dariush Maanavi.
The Startup Battlefield judges grilled Hadfield and the Fetch team about their margins, business model, and the benefits of real buying assistants versus automation after the presentation.
Update: An earlier version of this story stated that Fetch costs $5 a month to use. Hadfield tells me Fetch will be free to use for the foreseeable future, and that the company is “planning to introduce premium features for a monthly subscription” at some point.