Just in time for summer and back to school shopping, NYC-based startup Tip or Skip has launched a public mobile app to help consumers find interesting products online while also playing a game. This “social discovery” app mixes gamification with unique products for consumers to easily find. As of Wednesday, anyone can download the app online. “We wanted to make something fun and beautiful that people could play in a short amount of time… like a quick snack,” said Tip or Skip CEO Mike Weiksner during an interview. “Tip or Skip helps you find unexpected products that you like.”
The Science of Social Discovery
Defining what is beautiful, however, is more like a science and part of the secret sauce behind Tip or Skip, “All users have what we call sway. Sway gives more credit to something shared that others respond to so it reflects how well you know your audience and vice versa.” When looking at the app it is not only beautiful but show images with higher “sway” in bigger sizes, going against a trend of social commerce which normally tries to squeeze social information, like a product status or size, into the exact same size.
Unlike an Amazon or traditional online commerce site, Tip or Skip focuses on the imagery of what is beautiful and being liked online and allows users to follow what’s trending and send them to the original place where it can be bought, “The difference between liking something and ‘tipping’ something is that tipping will actually let you track, organize and really thinking about if you want to share that product. Facebook likes are an unlimited resource whereas ‘tips’ are limited per day and a person’s score. Do you really want to tip this to an audience?”
The Advantage of Being NYC Made
What’s most interesting about Tip or Skip is the leveraging of social components that makes it almost a uniquely New York City start-up, “We wanted to be close the largest retailers, ad agencies, and fashion houses and New York is perfect for that.” Weiksner commented, who began some early research in social shopping while getting his Ph.D in Computer Science at Stanford and also a childhood friend of his co-founder, Nathaniel McNamara, a native New Yorker (Weiksner’s research on persuasion can be found here). When asked what makes a startup so special and why New York is a great place to run one both said hands down it’s about the subculture and support of the founders community. Tip or Skip supports many local events like Startup Weekend and will be participating in the NYC eCommerce Hack Day August 4th and luckily Tip or Skip’s investors are in line with the company vision, “We have great investors who are very supportive” Weiksner said and their investor lineup doesn’t disagree, with big names like Dave McClure from 500 Startups, prominent East Coast investor John Ason and Corinthian Group on board, Tip or Skip seems poised for success.
Next Stages and Growth
“Retailers want to combat “showrooming”, where people look at products in a retail store but buy somewhere else online. Tip or Skip hopes to reverse this trend, allowing users to identify what they like online and be alerted while on the go”
Last year the duo raised close to $2MM to explore and build a social commerce path and after three months of Beta the tech startup is taking the app to the next level by launching in the Apple store for anyone to download. With Fab down the street and having raised over $150MM in the last two years, and StumbleUpon reaching its highest traffic rates ever it will be interesting to watch how much consumers love to “tip” or play with beautiful images online, even if one free minute at a time.