Expert-assisted shopping: there's now (another) app for that. That would be a new service called Scratch, launching Tuesday, which lets busy types chat with personal shoppers to get recommendations for home decor, accessories and gifts within 24 hours, and then buy said goods.
The germ of the idea was born out of CEO Matt Zisow's own struggles with getting everything done. He was busy with work, having worked at a hedge fund before going to another consumer startup, and he and his wife had three kids, all under the age of seven. He says he wanted it to exist for him, his wife and everyone he knows, and that's pretty much who's been using it since the startup launched a beta version in August: stay-at-home moms and dads, professional men and women, and people in their upper 20s to mid 30s, with average household incomes of $100,000 and up.
Zisow says he wouldn't describe Scratch as a stylist service, although the app certainly could be used in ways that approximate that experience. (Scratch currently has six shopping experts in house and plans to scale its work force by growing a network of freelance shoppers.) If a particular user is after accessories or clothing, Scratch starts to compete with the host of styling startups out there, like Stitch Fix or Keaton Row.
At the moment, though, the business isn't really geared toward fashion. Scratch has deals with "a couple hundred" brands at the moment — primarily within home, gifts and accessories — that give it a cut of each sale, since the service is entirely free on the user's end. The startup's relationship with the fashion world isn't well developed yet, although personal shoppers are encouraged to refer their clients to products coming from sources with which Scratch doesn't have a formal relationship if that's what's going to make them happiest. So you can certainly use Scratch to get hand-picked clothing recommendations, but the business isn't optimized for that yet.
During beta testing, Scratch saw about 75 percent of sales coming from gifts and home, with another 15 percent from jewelry and accessories. A more appealing stat: about 40 to 50 percent of users buy the product their shopper has suggested. Another 80 percent return to make a second request.
With heartening early traction like that, Scratch has also caught the eye of investors and recently raised $3.6 million from Bessemer Venture Partners (Pinterest, Shopify), NextView Ventures, Red Swan Ventures (Warby Parker, Birchbox) and the CEO of Blue Apron, Matt Salzberg.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Scratch launched with $3.2 million in funding when, in fact, it raised $3.6 million, instead.