TopFloor, Backed With $6M From Polaris, Google Ventures And Others, Debuts Video-Driven E-Commerce Platform

TopFloor, a startup born out of Los Angeles’ Science Inc. incubator, is set to make its public debut today.

The company, co-founded by Science’s Michael Jones and Brian Lee, has built a video-driven e-commerce platform that allows brands, retailers, and any celebrity or “influencer” to sell directly to their social followings and receive proceeds when the people they refer purchase items.

Social e-commerce is a very hot space at the moment, and that is evidenced by TopFloor’s top shelf investors: The company tells TechCrunch it has secured $6 million in funding led by Polaris Ventures with participation from Google Ventures, Crosslink Ventures, and Rustic Canyon Partners, and individual investors. Based in Los Angeles, TopFloor currently has 12 staff.

TopFloor CEO Rebekah Horne said in an interview last week that the idea for TopFloor came about when Jones and Lee were talking to companies and influencers who had attracted large followings on social networking sites but weren’t seeing direct ways to help that bolster their bottom lines. “These people were constantly asking how they could leverage that from a sales point of view — they’re building these audiences every day, but every day they don’t have a way to leverage it for more sales.”

From here, she said, the idea for TopFloor was born, as “a frictionless shopping experience that benefits the buyer and the seller.”

What it does — and why it could be big

TopFloor in Twitter (click to enlarge)

TopFloor produces all the content for these brands and influencers to share in their social media streams — for example, it produces all the online video content with in-video links to buy certain items when they are displayed on screen, and then also handles all the technology that allows those videos to be shared directly to various social networking sites.

“Every social network has a different native experience for the user,” Horne said. “TopFloor handles everything front to back, and there’s not a single line of code that the brand or retailer needs to worry about.” The revenue from any items bought will be shared between TopFloor and the brand, retailer, or influencer who referred that shopper.

Of course, referral links with affiliate revenue sharing are not new, but when when those links are shared in social networks it makes people go to a different site in order to make a purchase. This several-step process loses some potential buyers along the way. TopFloor lets the product viewing and purchase happen completely within the social networking stream.

The version of the site that is launching today is simple, but it seems like a slick execution and a powerful idea.

The beta feedback

The startup’s platform has been in beta since July, and the company says that while most social commerce products have less than 1 percent conversion rates, TopFloor’s conversation rates have been at eight or nine percent. On Facebook in particular, TopFloor has seen 10 times as many conversions as typical email marketing receives.

TopFloor is also one of only a handful of companies to be approved by Twitter Media Cards, which means that it has the OK to insert media objects into the Twitter stream based on a URL — thus, it can enable shopping directly through the Twitter stream (an example of that is pictured above.) Horne says that many more social networking integrations are on the way.

Here’s a sample video of TopFloor’s technology in action, with embedded links in a YouTube video: