Boston-based Redstar Ventures Wednesday announced the launch of LoopIt. The startup aims to help consumers reach out across their social networks for advice when shopping online. In January, LoopIt received seed funding from early-stage venture capital fund Avalon Ventures.
Redstar Ventures, the Boston-based venture foundry, today announced the launch of LoopIt, a conversation engine that will help consumers easily tap friends across their social networks for advice when shopping online. LoopIt makes it easy and fun for shoppers to instantly loop the people they trust the most and whose tastes they share into all of their shopping decisions, allowing them to benefit from the enthusiasm, knowledge, and advice of their friends and followers along the way.
Online retail provides an unparalleled level of choice, ease-of-use, and efficiency, but often the sea of anonymous reviews and star ratings makes the process of finding the right product impersonal. With LoopIt, users can poll specific members of their email address book or cast a wider net by posting their queries to Facebook, allowing friends of friends or product enthusiasts to join the conversation. LoopIt restores the human element to online shopping; it provides the reassurance that all shoppers crave that they are making the right decision, and simultaneously sparks excitement for discovering new products.
Looping in Retail Partners
In addition to accessing LoopIt directly, users will soon be able to connect to LoopIt on their favorite retailers’ product pages. One of the first retailers to deploy LoopIt is popular high-end fashion rental site Rent the Runway, which now offers the LoopIt conversation button for items available on its site, allowing members to poll their friends or fellow Rent the Runway style enthusiasts.
“LoopIt is the perfect resource for Rent the Runway members who have already organically formed a community that seeks outfit and styling tips from one another,” said Jenn Hyman, CEO & Co-Founder of Rent The Runway. “With LoopIt, they will have an extended group of virtual stylists, including their own friends, as well as other fashion-forward members who also love to experiment with designer fashion. As a company that puts customer experience first, it is monumentally important for us to offer our members tools that will help create the most seamless and enjoyable experience possible.”
Co-Founded by Entertainment Mogul Geraldine Laybourne and Tech Veteran Andrew Lau
LoopIt is the brainchild of co-founders Geraldine Laybourne, an entertainment industry pioneer and former founder and CEO of Oxygen Media, and Andrew Lau, former VP of Engineering at Endeca. After seeing a void in e-commerce, where the primary sources for product information were email newsletters, magazine editors’ picks, and review sites, Laybourne and Lau saw an opportunity in leveraging women’s broad, savvy social networks to help them make smart, personal, and fun purchase decisions.
“Women are social creatures; they love influencing their friends and being influenced by them. There is a reason they call most marketing SPAM and they are tired of sifting through faceless reviews. LoopIt brings the pleasure of shopping with friends to online and mobile shopping. It represents everything a ‘Like’ button can’t do and we see huge potential in that,” said Geraldine Laybourne, co-founder of LoopIt. “With LoopIt, users broaden their options from the point they discover something new and narrow their choices when they’re ready to make the leap to buy. We want people to be able to involve trusted friends and their wider circle to join them throughout every step of that shopping experience.”
Backing and Financial Investment
Laybourne and Lau partnered with Redstar Ventures to apply its “top-down” approach to LoopIt, using market research to formalize and validate the business model, then staffing and finding partnerships and investment opportunities within the market.
LoopIt is the first of several operating companies Redstar Ventures will formally announce in 2013. In January, LoopIt received seed funding from early-stage venture capital fund Avalon Ventures.
“LoopIt is poised to create a unique niche in a new and growing market, and with the leadership team, initial partnerships, and investments that they have put in place, we at Redstar are extremely confident that LoopIt will have lasting success as an ecommerce innovator,” said Jeet Singh, managing director and co-founder, Redstar Ventures.
About LoopIt: LoopIt helps you make informed decisions about your online purchases with the people you trust the most — your friends and advisors. LoopIt is a 1-to-1 conversation engine that lets consumers easily tap their friends across social networks for advice and opinions at every step of their purchase path, from discovery to point-of-purchase and beyond, to make the experience of shopping online more fun. LoopIt is an operating company of Redstar Ventures, and was co-founded by Geraldine Laybourne and Andrew Lau.
About Redstar Ventures: Redstar Ventures is a neither an incubator, nor a venture capital firm. We are a “venture foundry” that takes a top-down approach to building companies. Our model is based on identifying significant trends and growing markets, then developing potential products and services for those markets. From there, we find the right staff, partnerships, and sources of investment to launch the enterprise. We were founded in 2012 by ATG co-founders Jeet Singh and Joe Chung, and Matt Beecher of SCS Financial, and are grounded in the belief that channeling an entrepreneur’s creativity and energy towards fields where fundability, growth, and exit potential are high increases their chances of success.