Whym, a conversational commerce startup founded by former Snap employees, wants to make it easier for consumers to shop online via their mobile devices. Instead of filling out long checkout forms and entering in payment card details by hand, Whym’s solution offers a single-tap checkout experience where customers can pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay or even over a text message. The startup is now announcing $4.3 million in new seed funding, following its early traction with CPG, wellness and beauty brands.
The round was led by Deciens Capital and included participation from DNX Ventures, Reciprocal Ventures, Unusual Ventures, Chaos Ventures and Magic Fund, as well as small investments from Sequoia, Lightspeed and Canaan Partners. Whym also has angel investments from founders and other executives from Stripe, PayPal, Venmo, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Uber, Airbnb, Red Bull and Spotify.
The startup itself was founded in 2017 by CEO Kelly Nyland and COO Rhenee Bartlett, both previously of Snap. Nyland had headed up the consumer products and marketing division of the company, where she created the go-to-market strategy for Snap’s Spectacles. Bartlett had served as the head of event marketing and partnerships for Spectacles. In addition, founding team member and Whym’s VP of Engineering, Ryan Hornberger, had worked at Snap after the company acquired his startup Scan, Inc., which formed the basis for Snapchat’s Snapcode.
While at Snap, Nyland saw how the DM (direct messaging) screen drove Snapchat’s daily usage. She proposed that the company allow brands and consumers to communicate with each other directly through that part of the app.
“I realized through that journey that messaging was going to become a really important part of social shopping in the future,” Nyland explains.
Whym’s team realized that combining messaging and commerce into a new experience where transactions could take place over a text or even a DM thread could enable a new form of social shopping. Its first product, launched into beta in June 2018, offered brands a way to let their customers “reply to buy” over a text message.
In the years since, Whym has expanded to offer brands a micro-storefront solution that can be paired with their current texting campaigns, allowing customers to shop a product or small set of products and their variations — like colors or sizes, for example — then immediately check out. Brands can also promote their links in other places across social media and messaging apps, like “link in bio” solutions, swipe-ups (now link stickers on Instagram), messaging apps and more.
As a consumer, the solution is designed to be quicker and easier than clicking through to a traditional mobile website to check out. Instead, they’re sent to the micro-storefront to customize their cart, then can tap on Apple Pay or Google Pay to complete the sale. The company also still offers its original experience that lets customers check out over text, but will soon use consumers’ mobile phone numbers in a new way, too. Starting next year, consumers will be able to enter their phone number to signal their interest in a product they may want to buy in the future, as an alternative to sending themselves a website link or taking a screenshot as many do today.
Over time, Whym will be able to offer consumers a universal cart where they can purchase items across brands. It will also enable brands to reach out to their customers again when it’s time to repurchase.
“Up and coming direct-to-consumer brands, beauty, wellness, and CPG are our main focus,” notes Nyland. “We focus on businesses that have a high repurchase cadence. What Whym can do is actually rebuild each of those customers’ carts one-to-one and do a reply-to-buy repurchase experience for those brands,” she says. “So we can harness the power of text message on the backend to power repurchase experiences between brands and consumers automatically.”
The startup today has a couple of hundred brands using its service, and charges a 3% + 10¢ transaction fee on each order. Now that the company is scaling upmarket to brands between $50 million and $250 million in annual GMV (gross merchandise volume), it’s beginning to offer tiered pricing. But these rates aren’t yet publicized.
Brand integrations with Whym take around 10 minutes on average, via its self-serve platform. In addition, the startup has a sales team that can demo the product and walk clients through onboarding and strategy, and aid with the creation of their first campaigns.
The startup, a team of under 50, plans to use the funding to reach more brands and further develop its roadmap of product features, many of which have come from customer feedback. To date, Whym has raised a total of $7 million in funding.