We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Christopher Latter”, Co-Founder at London – UK based start-up “Trendii”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Trendii is a unique social commerce platform with its own pier to pier marketplace that encourages users and merchants to be creative with the content they share.
Trendii enables users to create collections in real time using a unique drag & drop interface. Collections can include Images, Videos, Music, Articles & Products.
Trendii also has its own affiliate system that enables users to earn real money by creating popular content through ad revenue share and product sales.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Trendii has been formed for 8 months and has already reached BETA. We are running on an ‘Invite only’ basis since early November with 200 users testing the site and providing us with feedback.
Trendii is part of a PayPal & Braintree incubator program running out of their London offices
We are currently working on integrating the eCommerce system and refining our product to go live.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Users create collections that include products. When these products are sold, we collect a commission. When established, we can sell ‘sponsored trends’ and ‘sponsored items’ in prime advertising space. We can also charge subscriptions for advanced analytics and advertising packages for merchants.
Trendii also has an in built affiliate scheme that shares revenue with its users. This is a major driving force in the creating of content and return usage.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I (Chris) and David Bentley have been friends since school. Since the age of 18 we had planned to travel the world together in 2012.
Early on in the trip we set up an outsourced business developing and promoting websites. Whilst in Asia we met Tom who was on a 2 year trip and we managed to get him on board.
Finally we then met Adam as a client who we were building the front-end of an eCommerce shop for. After 6 months we then pursued Trendii together.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We will be the world’s first global marketplace that provides users with ad revenue share as well as an affiliate scheme on product sales.
We have a completely unique user experience and user interface that allows visual collections to be made using multimedia.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We launched a close BETA version of the site in early November. On an invite only basis we have just over 200 people using the site. We are currently receiving invite requests of over about 15 per day without any marketing
A large milestone that we have reached that we are extremely proud of is being accepted into an incubator program. We are currently part of PayPal’s Start Tank program and have 6 months shared office space with PayPal, EBay, Braintree & StubHub.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our most direct include Polyvore.com, Fancy.com, Pinterest & Tsu.co.
Polyvore.com allows users to create collections; however it is only in the fashion industry.
Tsu.co shares revenues through ads but we share revenue through ads and product sales.
Pinterest allows you to create collection of images but we alloy multimedia and have a unique interface.
Fancy.com is a social commerce site however it is focused on Fashion and has a bland appearance.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We really wanted our UI/UX to be easy to use, fast and responsive. We’ve had to recruit a specialist team of Russian developers to work with us to achieve our goals. Using Symphony framework and Angular JS on the front end, we’ve been able to achieve what we aimed for and it’s all thanks to the quality of our development team.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
A common problem we face is getting people to understand the purpose of the platform. We often have to explain the affiliate scheme in order to get the message across. This is the real driver for people to create content on the site.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Between the co-founders we have experience in SEO, social media, management, sales & marketing, design & animation. We also have a development team with members who are experts in their fields.
We believe that we will succeed because our product is completely unique and the feedback we have received is outstanding. We strongly believe that if we get our product to the masses then it can easily go viral due to the nature of the platform.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
With a generic name like Trendii, we see huge possibilities with our brand to branch into different areas. The functionality available suites various industries such as fashion, food & drink, hair & beauty and more.
We are also aware that we might still have to pivot to a specific niche based on our users.
As individuals we would also like to work on sustainable projects in order to have a positive impact on the word.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
َWith all of our backgrounds being in digital marketing and online content, this Idea came naturally.
The initial person who came up with the idea was Adam, who was working on another global marketplace called iCare4rewards. This experience is what enabled him to see the potential.
The initial idea was quite far away from what is there now on Trendii.com. It is only because we all put everything behind the idea and developed it to what it is today, do we have the product we have.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
A lesson that we’ve learnt is to not rely on getting traction by targeted a broad audience. It is important to know your target market and your audience.
We have also learnt that it is extremely important to have a talented development team that is committed to you, especially if you are working remotely with them. It is important to have a strong relationship so I would recommend awarding them with equity.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
In 6 months from now I believe our biggest problem will be funding the business for global expansion. We are expecting an injection of $150,000 in the early New Year which will help us establish our brand and grow our user base in our initial target markets (UK & AUS).
In 6 months’ time we are planning to go global by recruiting community managers and sales teams in a variety of markets including US, Europe & Asia.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
In order to offer the highest value position we’ve been trying to provide the most appealing benefits we can offer to our users as well as what will encourage them to share trendii with their friends.
We offer a unique affiliate scheme that allows users to generate money by creating engaging content. We will share profits with the users through ads, product sales & referring new members.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We have been active in Social Media across Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest & Google+ for the past 4-6 months in order to build brand reputation. This has encouraged users to sign up to our pre-launch newsletter and has driven people to sign up to BETA.
We are without a marketing budget so have been relying a lot of Word of Mouth to get to where we are.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
We currently have just 200 users on the system and an email list of 1000 consisting mainly of digital marketers, social media specialists & young adults.This is because social media is more integral to their lives. We also want to get feedback from people who understand the industry in these early stages.
We also believe that there are a number of industries that would benefit from trendii. This includes Fashion, Arts & Crafts, Design, Film & Music, Mummy Bloggers & Food & Drink.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We plan to setup paid search and social campaigns on Facebook, Twitter & Google Adwords. We currently get users through word of mouth, email marketing and social media.
We will also be integrating the ability to invite friends through Email, Facebook & Twitter. This will encourage a viral nature if people enjoy the sites functionality.
We believe the financial benefits and unique experience is what will direct users away from other social networks.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We’ve been compared as ‘A Better Version of Pinterest’ – Webrazzi.com
We have also been complimented about the design of Trendii.com and the way in which the interface works.
Another recent email I received said: ‘I’ve been following Trendii and found the interface to be nothing short of amazing.’ Sim – Smarticlelabs.com
20. How are you going to scale?
In order to scale efficiently we have to be conscious of the 3 things: technical and workforce growth.
We’ve taken into account scalability from the very beginning. Our developers chose the latest technologies and have hosted it on a scalable server run by Amazon (AWS). Our team also work to optimise the site continuously to maximise efficiency.
From a workforce perspective we’ve been recruiting a global network of interns. In return for experience, we can grow at minimal cost.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Currently the biggest missing feature is a tutorial once the users enter the site for the first time. This is currently being developed by our team for both mobile and desktop.
We built the site responsively to start with for mobile users, however the feedback form our users suggest they would prefer a native App.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We plan to go Global in approximately 6 months once we get round 1 investment. We plan to recruit community managers in each of the target markets who will be responsible for growing an audience.
We will also be recruiting sales teams to target the merchants in each market, bringing them and their products onto the platform.
To cater for language barriers, we will also be creating country specific landing pages. E.g. trendii.fr, trendii.de etc..
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We believe that we can grow to the size of other well-known social networks if we move quickly. We need to define our USP’s extremely well in our marketing material and communicate them well to our users.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are always on the lookout to grow out workforce and currently we are looking for interns to join our team to gain valuable experience working within a social commerce start up.
We are currently recruiting for interns to work as ‘Community Managers’ and ‘Creative Entrepreneur’ interns who can help grow our audience, manager user groups and be creative within Trendii in order to help grow the communities.
Applicants can contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
As mentioned previously, we are currently self-funded. However we will be looking for investment in 3-5 months’ time to take the company to the next level.
In order to retain a larger % we wish to generate revenue first. This will make the investment more appealing.
The company structure includes 4 co-founders. A small % has been set aside to the designer and developers for their ongoing commitment to Trendii.
Investors can contact us directly on email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
If I was going to provide 2 pieces of advice for new entrepreneurs I would suggest that you do you research into your developers before you hire them and to make sure you legal side is covered before you begin. E.g. Founders agreements & stakeholder agreements.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Trendii is completely unique from both a product and team perspective. We really place a high focus on our users so that we can create a product that our users love.
We run Trendii using Lateral Management. If an intern comes up with a good idea, it is immediately taken into consideration and implemented by management. We do not believe in structure hierarchies and want to keep our workforce fresh, motivated and engaged in their roles.
We run monthly global calls where the entire team come together from Interns to co-founders, just so that everyone feels on the same level and so that can concerns of questions can be answered.
If you are a merchant and need another way to promote your products, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you early bird access to our platform and all of its features. You can be one of the lucky merchants who receive much commission %’s for being an early adopter.