If a recent spate of investments is any indication, the segment of fashion startups that use crowdsourcing and image recognition to track down specific products is heating up. In April, The Hunt raised $10 million from Khosla Ventures to make its platform more addictive. In February, ASAP54, which relies on image recognition technology and a team of stylists to identify products, closed $3 million in venture capital financing before launching to the public.
The latest to pull in financing is the Paris-based startup Wheretoget, which has raised $2 million from Alven Capital. The eight-person startup will be hiring and investing in marketing, as well as opening an office in New York by the end of the year.
For those who haven't used it, Wheretoget is most similar to The Hunt, although it's in fact two years older. People post photos of products they've seen on Tumblr, Instagram or in a magazine, and other users jump in to provide tips on where to buy them. It gamifies shopping by turning it into a team effort, and it's one of the more successful examples of social shopping out there so far.
So what about that much-touted use case suggesting that users will take a photo of someone in the street to find the product they're wearing? According to founder Romain Moyne, that's not really where Wheretoget's users are finding their inspiration.
"We have noticed that we have less than five percent of the pictures that are sent to us taken in the streets," Moyne says. "Every other picture is from Pinterest or Tumblr or Instagram."
As with The Hunt, Wheretoget's user base skews young and female, with the majority of users falling in the 15-25 age range. They're searching for products from inexpensive, trendy sites in the vein of Nasty Gal — think crop tops and platform heels. And they're not small in number: The site and mobile app now see roughly 2.2 million monthly uniques combined.
Although Wheretoget is based out of Paris, about half of its user base lives in the U.S., with a significant proportion in the U.K. and Australia. Only three to four percent of engagement comes from France.
Not everyone who is on Wheretoget is posting products or answering other people's queries, though. Moyne says that the platform's activity feed has proven to be a particularly successful feature, as it allows users to follow celebrities, bloggers and each other. In that way, Wheretoget operates a lot like Facebook: People use it less to post than they do to track other people's activity.
And although much of Wheretoget's stickiness is based on girls' desire to help each other find clothes, the startup has been expediting the discovery process by incorporating image recognition technology where it can. A lot of the products that girls are looking for have already been posted by someone else, meaning roughly 30 percent of photos posted are already in Wheretoget's database. In those instances where the site can detect a redundancy, it will provide the answer straightaway.
That said, the site does have its power users. One 13-year-old girl in Germany posted over 5,000 tips in one month. Because if there's one thing that's true about teenage girls, it's that to like something is to be obsessed by it.