I have always loved to shop.
As a kid, my mom and I would drive two hours to Buffalo NY, crossing the border from Toronto, to spend a day at the Walden Galleria Mall. There, I would go back to school shopping at stores like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister that had yet to make their way to Canada. In middle school, weekends were spent at Yorkdale Shopping Center, visiting Aritzia, Zara & H&M. Years later in college, packs of sorority sisters would make the hour-long trip from Princeton to The Mall at Short Hills, where we would spend a Saturday afternoon searching for the perfect dress for spring formals.
Once I moved to New York, where I (finally!) had more stores within walking distance than ever before, I would instead scroll through the Net-a-Porter and FarFetch apps on my commute to work, and receive packages via same or next day delivery at my apartment. While these marketplaces bring global designers to my doorstep, I missed the ability to touch and feel items in the store, to see a dress come to life off the hanger, and to find unique or rare items that aren’t always listed online.
Then I discovered ShopThing.
ShopThing is a live shopping marketplace that connects customers with in-store luxury products at retailers like Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Chanel and Balenciaga via a human shopper. ShopThing’s technology allows its network of shoppers to walk into a store and create a shoppable product with the click of a button, live streaming to audiences of hundreds of thousands and providing seamless purchase and delivery. Customers can follow their favorite shoppers on the ShopThing app, as shoppers bring their audience inside stores while they try on items and talk about them on video.
At Origin Ventures, we invest in the Digital Native economy, focusing on millennial and Gen Z demographics and their relationship with technology. This thesis underpins all of our investments: the idea that our generation grew up with a cell phone in our hand, and – as a result – we live, work, play, and shop differently than previous generations. Last year, we invested in two fashion-tech businesses that focus on curation, community and discovery: Vivrelle, a membership club that provides on-demand access to luxury accessories, and SoleSavy, a members-only community for sneaker heads. We’ve also invested in e-commerce infrastructure businesses that help brands meet digital natives expectations; Veho creates a better delivery experience and Blackcart lets customers try before they buy. ShopThing is purpose-built for digital natives and the way we want to discover and purchase luxury products – on demand, on our phones and curated by influencers we know and love.
ShopThing sits at the crossroads of the rapidly expanding North American live shopping market and the evolving creator economy. We have watched closely as the live commerce market has exploded in China; two-thirds of consumers bought products via livestream in the past year and the sector is expected to reach $423B in 2022. The U.S. is a few years behind China, and the ShopThing team has tailored the experience specifically for the North American audience. ShopThing’s approach is unique and first-of-a-kind, focusing on short video content in lieu of traditional hours-long live streams.
Retailers are more open to partnering with ShopThing than ever before as they struggle to connect with digitally native shoppers. COVID redefined what omni-channel retail means; brands welcome ShopThing shoppers to their stores and seek to partner with ShopThing, providing discounted pricing and access to warehouse level inventory. They are excited to have live audiences of thousands visiting their brick and mortar locations via ShopThing’s shopper network.
The ShopThing team was equally impressive. CEO Maggie Adhami-Boynton previously scaled one of Canada’s most awarded mobile app agencies, Plastic Mobile. She and her executive team have worked together for over a decade and have assembled a world-class technology team based in Toronto. And, in her spare time, Maggie will sometimes appear on the ShopThing app as a shopper herself! On a trip back to Toronto, I was sharing my enthusiasm for live shopping over coffee with a friend who mentioned ShopThing co-founders Maggie and Rebecca. I promptly downloaded the ShopThing app and ordered a pair of Jimmy Choo boots before I left the coffee shop. I was impressed by the seamless checkout experience and delivery coupled with the authenticity and personality that can only be found in live video.
Origin Ventures is pleased to be leading ShopThing’s $10M Series A, its first institutional round of financing, with participation from Pritzker Group and Interplay. We’re particularly excited to announce this fundraise during womens’ history month. ShopThing’s executive team and boardroom are both majority women; I will be joining the board on behalf of Origin Ventures and we are also happy to have Sonia Nagar in the boardroom on behalf of Pritzker Group.
ShopThing’s vision is to allow anyone to take their audience shopping – empowering influencers to become retailers with just their app. You can find @shopthinglive on Instagram, or download the mobile app to see it in action!