The Buzz on Wanelo–Part HSN, Part, Part Tupperware Party, Part Twitter–Continues


Wanelo, pronounced Wah-nee-low, stands for Want, Need, Love.  If it sounds like the book by Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love, you wouldn’t be far off.  The target audience is the same, but younger.

Wanelo is an e-commerce site that hopes to solve several shopping annoyances created by bricks and mortar shopping, i.e. long checkout lines and stuffy dressing rooms, and resolve two issues created by Fashion Tumblrs, Pinterest, and, the street photography site, i.e., actually buying those clothes or items and knowing where they’re from.

Wanelo addresses all those issues by letting viewers (read potential buyers) click on an image that takes them directly to the place where the item or items are available for sale that lets people share items, like articles of clothing, home furnishings, beauty accessories and makeup products, for their friends and followers to see. And viewers can browse others’ items, comment on them and share them with friends. These include brands and companies like Anthropologie, REI and even the Apple repair shop Tekserve that can create their own collections of items for online window shoppers.

Wanelo’s founder and CEO is Deena Varshavskaya.  Ms. Varshavskaya who was born in Siberia began sketching out the idea for the site a few years ago (she worked for a Los Angeles design agency) and “wanted to know what my friends shopped for and what things they liked,” in order that she might buy them.  Ms. Varshavskaya said. She saw a gap in the social media sites she perused and hired a developer to help her build the site near the end of 2010.  By the end of 2011, she felt the site had enough traction to begin working on it full time. The company raised $2 million from First Round Capital and Floodgate, among others, in mid-2012.

While her business model is proactive and solves transaction gaps created by other social media sales sites, Wanelo isn’t without competition.  The Fancy, Svpply and Polyvorethat each use “socially curated” shopping experiences (meaning others’ have recommended them).  And Pinterest, Polyvore, Etsy and Tumblr still dwarf the Wanelo in terms of traffic.

Still, Wanelo attracts 1.3 million visitors a month, outpacing The Fancy and Svpply, who both have less than half that, according to data from comScore. Wanelo seems to have the attention of a younger demographic — particularly women — and has a strong foothold in mobile.

The company’s app is No. 1 in the lifestyle category in the Apple App Store, and sits higher than Amazon, Etsy and eBay on the store’s free apps chart. It recently topped 1.5 million downloads, Ms. Varshavskaya said.

And you can buy things.  It directs users to the e-commerce site where they can buy an item, and then gets an affiliate commission, or a portion of each sale.

And it doesn’t hurt that the camera loves Ms. Varshavskaya.  She has fashion-model striking good looks (more so now than her earlier video clips) and is a favorite of Tech Crunch and Bloomberg News, who have reported on the company and site, calling it “a Twitter for products” and “the next new thing.”

Here’s one such Bloomberg report:

And a Bloomberg interview with Ms. Varshavskaya herself in which she says the site “isn’t just for young girls, there are guys’ brands.”  Who knew?

Here is NY Times technology reporter Jenna Wortham’s blog in “Bits:”

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