NEW YORK — Social marketplace Copious wants to build an online experience based around people — and the site announced today that it secured an additional $5 million in series A funding to do so.
The latest round of investors includes Foundation Capital, Google Ventures and Relay Ventures — three of the original firms that pumped capital in the seed round in the spring of 2011, bringing the total amount raised to $7.65 million. Additional seed investors (and advisers) range from Buddy Media chief executive officer Mike Lazerow to Facebook’s Javi Olivan and Alex Schultz, respectively.
“In our view, most social marketplaces are actually [just] social ‘marketing.’ Essentially, companies layer social actions likes, pins, etc., on top of nonsocial experiences and call it social commerce. These companies focus on trying to get stories into people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, which is fine, but the experience itself isn’t social,” Copious chief executive officer Jim Rose told WWD of the ways in which Copious.com differs from a traditional social marketplace. For him, the activities and actions of users haven’t lead to a better or changed experience on other sites because the concept is centered around the item being sold, not the person who is doing the buying. This results in the same user experience for everyone — something Copious is veering away from.
Instead, Rose wants to create an experience entirely determined by who the consumer is and the social activity and actions of their interests and peers.
From the user side, once a consumer creates an account on Copious.com, they are asked to select five products they love so the site can suggest users with similar interests for them to follow. The platform has tapped bloggers such as Nitrolicious, Man Repeller and Oh Joy as influencers to sell merchandise via curated boutiques, and it will also launch a new Copious Simple Ship, a prepaid shipping option available to its sellers once an item is listed to streamline the process. After a product is sold, the seller can print out a label, adhere it to the prepaid package and just drop in the mail.
“Instead of a top-down, one-view-for-everyone catalogue-based experience, we use an individual’s connections [and] the interests they’ve identified on Copious itself — what they ‘love,’ who they ‘follow,’ what they buy, what they sell and their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr connections — to shape the experience,” Rose said.
He also believes that social experiences on the Internet are a “net of creation, not a funnel of fulfillment.” He points out that from the mid-Nineties to 2010, consumers “hunted” and used sites such as Amazon.com or Google.com to find the items they wanted to purchase. With the rise of s-commerce, or social commerce, last year, consumers began to “gather” and use social media — from “liking” a product on Facebook, to tweeting or re-pinning something that piques their interest — which has made social core to the platform.