A new mobile application called HeartThis wants to make shopping across multiple retailers more convenient for smartphone users. The app, which is making its official debut later today on stage at StartX’s Demo Day, puts over 330 stores in one place, allowing you to buy from places like Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, J Crew, Target, and many more, as well as see if there are any promo codes available that can help you save.
The app has actually been live on the iOS App Store since November, but hasn’t done much marketing or press, with the team instead focused on growing the user base and working out the kinks ahead of Demo Day.
However, though largely word-of-mouth referrals, the company claims, HeartThis has grown the user base to 250,000 active users as of December 2014.
What’s also interesting about HeartThis is the kind of shopper they’ve managed to attract. The service is winning with a slightly older mobile consumer – females 25 to 45 years old. That’s a bit different from mobile shopping competitors like Wanelo and Wish, which often attract a younger, and even teenaged, audience.
According to HeartThis co-founder and CEO Andrew Gadson, HeartThis’s growth among females in this older age bracket has a lot to do with the app’s design. The company ditched an earlier version that highlighted the app’s friending and following model – a model common among today’s social applications. Instead, HeartThis focuses on building out an app that’s personalized to each user individual interests.
“[Customers] basically told us ‘I don’t need strangers to tell me what I should be wearing. I already know who I am…I’ve established my style. Just let me browse those more efficiently,'” explains Gadson.
“That’s what’s helped us grow with that older demographic – they don’t need the social proof quite as much,” he adds.
When users first get started with HeartThis, they customize the content by selecting their favorite stores and categories of apparel (e.g. active wear, shoes, bags, accessories, swimwear, etc.). The app then returns a customized feed of items in a Pinterest-like layout where you “heart” things you like to add them to your wish list, or a collection. If you want to buy the item, you can do so with a tap of the “Buy” button in the app which directs you to the retailer.
Unlike on Pinterest, HeartThis seems to do a decent job at making sure the items you’re seeing are things that are actually for sale. Pinterest, meanwhile, is often filled with older pins that keep getting passed around, even though the product in question is no longer made, or is sold out.
Another differentiator from some mobile shopping competitors is that HeartThis doesn’t focus on extremely high-end fashion. It’s really just an alternative way to shop from more mainstream-friendly stores, like those you would find at your local mall, for example, as well as some online retailers, including Net-A-Porter, Modcloth, Amazon and others.
However, for regular shoppers, a favorite feature might be HeartThis’s ability to track down promo codes on the items being viewed. If there’s the potential to save more, you won’t have to hunt around for the deal.
The San Francisco-based startup was founded back in 2013 by Stanford grads by Gadson, previously of schoolFeed (a startup acquired by Classmates.com’s parent company); Jennifer Gee, previously an exec producer at social gaming company RockYou; and Lance Tokuda, the CEO of schoolFeed, who also co-founded RockYou.
The service, which was live on the web in January of last year, has been steadily growing its user base 100% month-over-month since September 2014.
While some of HeartThis’s links help it to generate affiliate revenue for now, that’s not the company’s long-term plan. The team says that after it builds a larger community of users, there will be plenty of other opportunities to monetize, including running native ads.
The app is a free download on iTunes.