After building a company at 14, Suhas Gopinath now takes a stab at retail
ShopsUp is an app that helps users discover the best stores in town for fashion, lifestyle, and other products, and rewards them every time they shop.
Suhas Gopinath, who was Founder and CEO of Globals Inc., an enterprise solutions company focused on cloud and mobile applications, felt that online shopping doesn’t work well for complex categories like clothing, because what you see online isn’t always what you get. Having built a company when he was 14, Suhas knew that just having an e-commerce site wouldn't help the cause.
So Suhas started ShopsUp last year, an app that helps users discover the best stores in town for fashion, lifestyle, and other products, and rewards the user for their shopping. Through ShopsUp, users can get exclusive offers and discounts from their favorite brands and stores, and instant gratification through redemption of 'Shots' (points) that they collect through walk-ins and purchases in the store.
ShopsUp acts as a personal shopping companion recommending places to shop, and the right products to buy. If she is looking to buy a linen shirt, then ShopsUp will show her, in real time, the niche boutiques as well the branded ones it is available at in the neighbourhood.
Building the team
Suhas, now 30, felt that one of the biggest challenges of building ShopsUp was to prove that both online and offline retail can continue to co-exist and grow. He adds,
“Many were of the impression that we are yet another mobile commerce company, but we were doing something that was against the wave, because offline shopping is still large in India and elsewhere in the world, but an offline shopper was not equipped with the right tools for discovery, instant gratification, loyalty cards and to find relevant offers and deals.”
When Suhas got the idea of ShopsUp he discussed it with his former colleague and friend Anmol Vij, who was Founder and CEO of KeyMind Learning, a edtech startup based out of Coimbatore and was heading a sales division at Globals prior to founding his own company in 2011.
“Around the same time when we had an opportunity to meet Alibaba’s Jack Ma in New Delhi and we could validate that online-to-offline (O2O) for shopping is a great problem to solve. Anmol and I soon quit our own companies to found ShopsUp,” Suhas says. Kaarthick Loganathan, an entrepreneur, joined as the tech lead, and Abhiram Talluri, who founded The Runaway Chef, heads engineering.
But building a team was difficult as most e-commerce companies had raised funding. They, therefore, hired fresh graduates, looked for talent outside Bengaluru and from smaller cities.
Currently, many startups are aiming to solve customers' need to find the right products, both online and offline. Talespin, Sequoia-backed Madstreet Den and Niki.ai use artificial intelligence (AI), and Fynd as well focus on helping users discover products and places.
ShopsUp claims its differentiator lies in the user getting incentivised for window shopping. If a user just walks into a partnered store, they get points, which pile up when purchases are made as well. These points, called Shots, can be instantly redeemed either at the food court or for movie tickets or for even booking a taxi back home.
Suhas says that with ShopsUp they aim to bridge the gap between offline and online shopping behaviour with the help of technology and drive more footfalls for the retail as well as boutique partners by offering through reward points.
“Furthermore, despite several marketing technologies being available today there is a deep void in terms of data, especially when considering physical stores. With ShopsUp we aim to close the data void and offer insights to retailers on their customers, and reward them instantly,” he adds.
The team has currently partnered with over 400 boutique stores across neighbourhoods and brands like AND, Van Heusen, Adidas, Pepe Jeans, Allen Solly and Raymond. The team has raised seed funding from Yang Shu, former president at Huawei and CEO of Taojinjia, and Anand Sankeshwar of transportation company VRL Logistics. Yang and Anand are also mentors for ShopsUp.
“We want to focus on the product and user experience because for the brands there is excellent value proposition of reaching their customers at the right time and right place with contextual offers. We also plan to build a shopping bot and social layer over ShopsUp,” says Suhas.