FashInvest Profile: Lutebox, Socializing Online Shopping
Interview with Founder Ali Ahmed
Online shopping is usually a pass time. Whether you have a lot of free time, or are purchasing something in the spur of the moment, it’s safe to say online shopping is a one-man-sport. Lutebox, founded by the Former Entrepreneur in Residence at Groupon, Ali Ahmed, brings social aspects to virtual shopping and embraces shopping with friends. It’s actually quite simple, Ahmed explained, “Say you're shopping online or in-store, and find a shirt you want to buy, but want your best friends' advice. With Lutebox, simply grab a photo of the product, add your friend and just like a walkie-talkie, click push to talk and leave them a quick voice message. They'll see the product instantly and respond to your message right then; giving you the feedback you need to make the best decision.” Maybe it’s for a relative hundreds of miles away, or a friend who doesn’t have time to run to the mall, by simply signing up with Lutebox, consumers are now open to a whole new channel of online shopping.
Ahmed co-created Lutebox when shopping for a friend’s relative who was overseas. Together, the two were getting frustrated when constantly sending “expensive international picture text messages” and continuous phone tag. He called the timely process “excruciating” and as her stated, “realized there had to be a better way to share what you’re shopping with friends and family instantly and seamlessly, and as a result, Lutebox was born. The site and application opens the world of online shopping and turns it into a connecting tool for far-away-friends. Ahmed continued, “There is currently no way to communicate with friends in real-time and show then products live shopping online or on mobiles.” Lutebox fixes the issue and makes online shopping easier, faster, more efficient, and for Ahmed, less excruciating.
The Lutebox application was based to get “instant response” from friends and fellow shoppers. With his background in Groupon, Ahmed realized it was a slow process sharing Groupons, going in on deals together, and receiving responses once deals were shared. He explained that Lutebox enables users to receive instant feedback, “With Lutebox, you could instantly get your spouse or friends to respond right when you need their feedback, and because of its walkie-talkie style of communication, it is much less intrusive and overall quicker and easier to use.” Instead of sharing links to products, users can call each other and view the product together. The ease is proven by the company’s vision statement, “Make Shopping More Social,” simple and to the point.
Currently, Lutebox is in beta but is planning on launching a redesign in conjunction with an iPhone application. The company has been successful in partnering with over 200 retailers such as Macy’s, Adidas, Urban Outfitters, Marks & Spencer, and GAP. Ahmed explained that the company has seen a lot of “regular inquiries for smaller retailers and merchants looking to distribute on Lutebox.” He explained that with the “great demand” for the platform, the company plans on creating an easier way for merchants to join Lutebox. The company also plans on attending START as a part of the Dublin Web Summit in October.
Ahmed’s passion and goals for Lutebox are endless. Being that Lutebox is the first of its kind, it is clear that Lutebox is not only changing the world of online shopping but enhancing it to the effect of brick & mortar channels. “Lutebox is making shopping online and mobiles a social and meaningful as it should be.” Shopping is an incredibly social activity whether it’s the atmosphere of people trying different styles on, or the advice you can receive from your co-shoppers, it is an activity we do in our everyday life to pass time and have fun. Why not bring that social event right to what seems to be the fastest growing retail channel, the World Wide Web.
Lutebox has previously received ₤270,000 (roughly $437,670)in seed investment.
by Samara Freschman