Lauren Farleigh, whose background is in gaming, developed mobile and social shopping app Dote with Gen Z in mind. She said her knowledge of gaming served her well when she was creating the entertainment and shopping experience. Farleigh wanted Dote to be more interactive like War Dragons, a game from Pocket Gems, where she previously worked.
Dote, which recently raised $12 million in Series B funding, bringing its total of venture capital raised to $23 million, today launched Shopping Party, live-streamed shopping sessions. Farleigh likened Shopping Party to Twitch, a live-streaming video platform owned by Amazon.
“We work with a bunch of YouTubers and realized that we’d built such an incredible local core shopping experience, but failed to capture the live interactive experience,” said Farleigh, Dote’s founder and chief executive officer. “There was no type of shared experience.”
Shopping Party is launching with 44 Instagram social media star partners. For the time being, only verified Dote Girls, Instagram and YouTube personalities, will be able to host Dote shopping parties, but Farleigh said she’s considering opening up the hosting to any user.
Shopping Party is live on the Dote app with a guest list for users to sign up to be notified “when your favorite creators shop live.”
Farleigh used Apple’s ReplayKit2 technology, “which allows game players to broadcast live games to players and viewers online” to build Shopping Party. “It’s super difficult to keep two streams in sync,” she said.
Shopping Party is starting with two sessions per hour, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., but will soon ramp up to hundreds and hundreds of parties, Farleigh said, adding that Urban Outfitters, Princess Polly, Honeybum and Dolls Kill are sponsoring the pilot.
“I saw a shift to mobile,” Farleigh said. “Games were early leaders on mobile. There’s a big opportunity to create a global interactive shopping app targeting Gen Z. There’s been a shift to mobile social media use and social stars are the celebrities of this generation.”
Creators and influencers have seen a fourfold uplift in audience engagement on Dote, Farleigh said. “We have 3.2 million users, who come back four times a day and look at 75 products.”
Farleigh, who grew up in Alaska with limited shopping options, bootstrapped the company, charging $10,000 to a credit card to get started. Dote’s first funding round came in 2015. “There’s enormous white space,” she said. “I have an ambitious team. I’m really ambitious. We have healthy financials and excited investors.”