Mobile

ShopVibe launches assistant for online and in-store bargain hunting (exclusive)

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For shopaholics, it’s easy to pile up credit card debt, and lose track of how much you’re actually spending. ShopVibe, a Silicon Valley-based startup launching today, was founded by two serial entrepreneurs who needed a better way to help their wives’ track their purchases.

Cofounders Ken Leeder and Sandeep Nawathe left their previous companies to build the technology that bridges machine learning and e-commerce. “Despite consumers’ hyper-connectivity, their shopping experience is still very disconnected,” said Leeder in an interview with VentureBeat.

To make it easier for shoppers to track online and offline shopping, ShopVibe is launching with four core features: a bookmarklet to track potential purchases from any online retailer, a product card to keep a visual record of the products you buy, a QR-code enabled scanning technology for mobile, and a social feature to share favorite items with friends.

ShopVibe has positioned itself in the murky middle-ground between mobile commerce tools, social discovery sites, and bookmarklets like Wantworthy, a startup which recently pulled in funding from Google Ventures. It’s taking on an army of competitors, but the founders claim that their solution combines aspects of all these sites.

For instance, certain features are highly reminiscent of Pinterest and the Fancy. These features are designed for people who like to organize their favorites and list their aspirational purchases. On the homepage, users share items that they’re “vibing,” which is not dissimilar to “pinning” your favorites on Pinterest. ShopVibe integrates with Facebook, so you can ask friends’ for feedback.

But why “vibe” when you can “pin”? Where it gets a bit more interesting is that the founders have developed a proprietary machine-learning technology that automatically hunts for bargains when you “vibe” an item. On the backend, they are building a product database that enables ShopVibe to crawl the web for lower prices on any product while people shop and recommend similar items. Leeder said that building this smart database was their greatest technical challenge.

With this technology, ShopVibe is taking on mobile commerce darling ShopSavvy, a barcode scanning tool for in-store comparison shopping. ShopSavvy opened the playing field by convincing thousands of retailers to give up their pricing and inventory data. For this reason, ShopVibe was able to partner with 100 retail outlets in its alpha phase. While ShopSavvy focusses on the in-store experience, ShopVibe’s founders told me that mobile is not their singular focus.

ShopVibe has raised $300,000 in angel investment, and is looking to raise a seed round of funding in the coming weeks.