A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Wishpot, Seattle
Who: Todd Humphrey, 39, CEO
What it does: Social shopping service that allows people to save, share and shop for what they want, online.
How it works: Customers register and install a browser button that connects to their wish list. When they see an item online, they click to add it to one of several custom lists. They can return later to the list and make the purchase or make it available to their friends.
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Finding specialties: Wishpot has become the way that the nouveau tech crowd manages wedding and baby-shower lists.
Dribblings: People looking to purchase a Wishpot-listed item as a gift follow a link to the product source — Amazon.com, for instance. As they buy, the item is checked off so the recipient knows that it has been purchased (givers can hide their identity). The merchant returns a percentage of the sale to Wishpot.
Employees: Seven full time. Among them are a “chief wedding officer” and “chief mom officer.” Humphrey said the CMO spends her time on several “mommy blogs” generating interest for the service.
Financials: The private company says it is halfway through a $1 million venture round. It expects regular revenue from commissions but also plans to generate advertising and licensing fees. Humphrey expects profitability by the end of 2009.
Search me: Anyone can log on to Wishpot and search for a name, but Wishpotters can make their lists visible to a select group or entirely suppress their address information. In many cases the posting is done the old-fashioned way, where the giver contacts the recipient and asks where the booty should be mailed.
Group shop: “You might go into a store and see people gathered around a rack of clothes, so you are curious about what has caught their attention,” Humphrey said. “We make online shopping more personal.”
— Charles Bermant