Everyone who comes to live in Vegas has a story about how they got there. But while some of those tales may be prosaic, there are a few that stand out. OrderWithMe — a startup that started out aggregating small business so that they can order from bigger suppliers in bulk, thereby mimicking the procurement power of a larger business — is not your typical Vegas tech outfit.
The company, founded by people originally from Texas, first got its beginnings in China, where it started off building up the relationships with the Chinese companies that would become the suppliers to those SMBs. While establishing its business there, OWM applied for, got accepted to, and ended up winning TC’s Startup Battlefield competition during Disrupt in Beijing.
As it continued to position itself as a kind of bespoke Alibaba, OWM decided that it needed to move back to the U.S. to complete the other end of the deal: finding would-be small businesses to connect with these suppliers, and then running all the in-between processes that go into that.
OrderWithMe initially came to consider Vegas because of the backing of the VegasTechFund (the VC funded by the likes of Tony Hsieh), but it turned out to be a serendipitous decision: the city is known for its steady stream of trade shows, and so this brings a lot of current and potential customers right to OrderWithMe’s door.
And as the company evolves into more services for businesses, the proximity of Zappos (the company founded and headed by Hsieh) has proven helpful, too. In the wake of its recent, $28-million round of funding, OrderWithMe launched a new service called ShopWithMe, an e-commerce interface for small offline and online businesses looking for a quicker way of linking up customers directly with a businesses’ inventory.
The service had a test run of sorts during the most recent holiday season, when OWM set up a pop-up shop for Zappos.
Shoppers could browse around an extensive physical store, find items that they liked, and scan the codes on them on their phone to then call up a wider selection of sizes and colors on big screens for people who want to order them. The store even included a Matrix-style shoes selection that you found by browsing and gesturing through a selection of styles in a room outfitted with a 3-D video installation.
OrderWithMe has even gotten into regenerating Downtown spirit. When considering office space, CEO and co-founder Jonathan Jenkins came across mid-century motel not far from central Fremont Street that was being renovated from motel to business center. After he stepped in to ask how much office space cost, he decided to make an offer on the whole place.
With the help of some funky designers and a strong dose of personal experience — rooms represent different stages of the company’s life up to now — the motel has been transformed into OrderWithMe’s HQ, an office with a zen garden courtyard in the center for meetings, rooms or sequences of them dedicated to different functions of the business, and two dogs, former strays that Jenkins and his co-founder wife Danielle rescued from someone’s dinner plans back in China (these are the dogs depicted in the picture below).
Note to those interested in this kind of space: there seem to be a lot of these down-and-out motels in need of a little love in Vegas.
Watch the video above to find out more.