‘Tinderfaces’ are in app vogue right now. By which I mean Tinder-esque ‘swipe to filter’ interfaces. ‘X app is the Tinder of Y’ has become the standard descriptive shorthand for this trend (named, of course, for dating app Tinder which popularized making snap aesthetic judgements swipe style).
U.K. startup Mallzee is just one example of apps following in the gestural footsteps of Tinder. It’s applying a Tinderface to high street shopping decisions. Swipe right on the iOS app if you like the item, left if you don’t. Rinse; repeat. Disrupt NY 2014 alum Kwoller is another, doing a Tinderface for fashion price-tracking. There’s also Stylect, applying a swiping layer atop in-app shoe shopping. And indeed many more. (Stashd and Nuji are also doing similar Tinderfacey things.)
We covered Mallzee back in December soon after it launched its service, and the startup is now announcing its ‘Tinderface’ has helped it swipe in a seed round of £500,000 (~$845,000), with investors including Gareth Williams (CEO of Skyscanner), Par Equity, Scottish Investment Bank, Laurence Marlor (Rental Cars) and Rob Dobson (Actix).
The startup had previously raised a small friends and family round of £75,000 in early 2013 to get its app to market. Now, at the point of seed funding, it’s managed to build up a user base of “tens of thousands” in around six months — of mostly U.K. based users (circa 80%).
International interest in the app has been growing, though, according to the CEO, and it’s hoping to be able to tap into that now it’s a bit more flush with cash.
Mallzee’s current main value-add to the Tinderface is to incorporate a social sharing component that lets users share an item they intend to buy with friends, who can then vote it up or down. If friends give the thumbs down the user is actively prohibited from making a fashion faux par as a negative vote disables the app’s buy button. That twist could prove virally sticky for a younger demographic. Or just a bit annoying. Time will tell.
One thing is certain: apps in this already crowded Tinderface space are going to need to keep sticking their neck out to be different.
“We believe that in this space there has to be more than just swiping through clothes – that’s why we’ve also put in place our own social sharing system that lets people share their finds with their friends using the app before they buy,” says CEO and founder Cally Russell when asked how Mallzee is going to get itself noticed. “We’re also in the process of building V2 which will introduce multiple recommendation systems, price/stock notifications and a couple of other twists.”
V2 of Mallzee is “on course” for release in late summer, he added.
Russell said the startup will be using the new funding to expand internationally, with a plan to double the size of its team to 14 staff over the next 12 months. It’s aiming to grow its user-base to 250,000 by the end of the year and half a million by early next — fueled by expansion to other markets, beyond the U.K.
It also currently has more than 200 sartorial retailers signed up to have their items added to its database — so will be looking to scale that up as it moves into new markets.
“The round is to continue product development and get to 500k users by early 2015. Based on current numbers we think this is more than achievable,” said Russell. “We’ll also be releasing an Android version with this investment and as mentioned release international versions. We’ve also just released a beta iPad version and we’re keen to keep developing this and connect the two up to make a better shopping experience.”
Commenting on the funding round in a statement, Paul Munn, director at Par Equity said: “Mallzee is an innovative product addressing a fast changing consumer market. Choice abounds but shoppers and retailers want technology to help them make sense of the market. The team at Mallzee have made significant progress to date and this investment will provide a runway for the business in its next stage of growth and development.”