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The Techcrunch Interviews: Fapl: When Buying Great Clothes Makes You Money

Fapl When Buying Great Clothes Makes You Money

At Media Jobs we like to bring you the most innovative companies.  In this interview we will learn about a new company that is blending ecommerce and social sharing in a money making opportunity for consumers.  Imagine being able to buy clothes for a profit. You could buy an endless amount of clothes as long as all the purchases were profitable.  Fapl.co could be the best thing since sliced bread for those with a good eye for fashion.

Listen in as Roy Weissman of MediaJobs.com interviews the CEO and Founder of Fapl.co, Paul Ahn.


Roy: This is Roy Weissman from MediaJobs.com, and we’re talking with Paul Ahn, the CEO of FAPL.co. What is FAPL.co, and where did this come from? Can you help us out?


Paul: FAPL is a social sharing platform where people can also monetize by sharing what they’re wearing. Just by simple linking. Also, every style they see is buy-able.


Roy: What’s the difference between sharing on Instagram or Facebook, and tell my friends and get an affiliate link? Couldn’t I make money that way?


Paul: When you share on Instagram or Facebook, all they can do is hashtag what they’re wearing, or give the URL to where they can buy. On our platform, just by searching through the brand name, every product is all right there so that they can buy with simple one-click.


Roy: What do you mean every product?


Paul: Product is all provided by all the brands. They can create a brands account on a web, and everything is purchasable that way, with an inventory management system.


Roy: Wait a minute, I’m a consumer, I’m posting on Instagram. Do you want me to post on your website? If you had to pick one, you want the brands, or do you want the consumers more?


Paul: If I had to pick one, I’ll start with the brands, because brands can also unload their own style looks. Users can unload their own looks and just link any brands that they’re wearing, that way if some product is purchased through your photo, they can make money. The minimum is 3%. We’ll give them in terms of points, and points is equal to cash on our platform.


Roy: Wait a minute. Now you just threw something else in. Who is making the 3%? The brand, or the consumer?


Paul: The consumer is making the 3%.


Roy: So, a nice woman, she really dresses nice, she uploads a picture of herself, and she tags or links her items, and then if somebody buys the shoes she’s wearing, she makes 3%?


Paul: Yes, correct. There’s another incentive for users to unload on our platform. The reasons whenever item is linked, it’ll be notified to the brands on the brand managing web, and whenever they approve your photo, the user becomes a model for the brands. Let’s say if you tag a Gucci shirt, and then Gucci approves your look, then every Gucci follower will be seeing you, as a user, and they get to follow you. That way you can increase your followers.


Roy: Now you added another element. I upload my picture. Either Gucci likes it, approves me, or they don’t? If they don’t approve me, what happens?


Paul: Then only your followers will be seeing your photo.


Roy: But if they do approve me, what happens?


Paul: Gucci followers will be seeing you, also. On top of that, Gucci followers will be seeing you.


Roy: Gucci followers are on your platform?


Paul: Yes, correct.


Roy: Gucci could have a million followers, if they approve me, then all those million-


Paul: Yes. You’ll be seen by a million people.


Roy: Wow. All these women that are shopping like maniacs, spending their whole paycheck, they can now make money on every shopping trip?


Paul: Correct. They can make on shopping trip. Maybe, if they’re hot enough they can make more money than what they spent.


Roy: Maybe, like, Justin Bieber will see them and they’ll become famous like that woman on Instagram a few years ago. Where do you envision this going? Have you figured out the size of the market for this? How do you calculate the market? How do you approach this?


Paul: Where it started from was that I have experience running an e-commerce on a fashion platform, and I realized no platform, until now, have differentiated two different photos, the product picture and lifestyle photo. We’ve done that, and what it allowed is it can work for not just fashion vertical, it can work for any other vertical, as well. We have patent on that. Just talking about fashion industry, it’s at 250 billion dollar revenue within the United States alone. Eighty billion dollars is from e-commerce, so we want to go where a fashion brand doesn’t need to a website to sell stuff, they can just create this simple thing to sell stuff. By creating a website, they have to do all different marketing efforts, putting it on social media, write to magazine, write to bloggers, and nothing really returns the effort. Now we want an organic way for people to see the style and able to purchase it right away.


Roy: Wasn’t there another site called Fancy, or something, an e-commerce site, where people would post pictures of stuff they liked, and made money with it?


Paul: It’s just a picture, and then they … Right now, what we’ve done is there’s a product and there’s lifestyle shots. It’s clear, separate category and the relationship can be built between the two. Fancy, what it does is, you just unload a photo and you need to indicate what the item is, and it’s just like affiliate marketing.


Roy: I noticed, on your site you were showing me, you showed a picture of a woman, and she might be wearing one kind of shoes, a different dress, different handbag, so she’d be making 3% no matter who buys this?


Paul: Correct. That is correct.


Roy: She would also, potentially if she’s approved, be on three or four different company lists?


Paul: Yes, correct.


Roy: -getting their followers.


Paul: Yes, and she’ll be seen by millions. Also, when a company approves, for each like, the user is able to earn points, too.


Roy: Do I earn money or points?


Paul: Points is equal to cash.


Roy: So I can cash in the points?


Paul: Yes, you can cash out the points after it gets a certain amount of points.


Roy: What is your background? Tell us a little bit about where you learned your stuff.


Paul: I majored in economics, I went to a school in Upstate New York called Cornell University, and then I created my own fashion brand called Rare Footwear … It never slipped on any type of surface … To the consumer market. We created a shoe brand. We had a successful kick start campaign, but after that it was impossible for me to drive traffic to our website. I had the experience of writing to bloggers, writers, at least thousands of emails a day, and doing social media campaigns, and spending tons of marketing money on social media, but it never returned how I wanted to be. I knew there had to be a better way, so we decided to start the idea of FAPL from there.


Roy: Your frustration of difficulty of getting traffic is what drove your motivation to start this business?


Paul: Correct, and throughout the research I found out there are more than two million fashion brands throughout the world. More than 90% of the fashion brands are having trouble to be seen, so I wanted to solve that for that mass audience.


Roy: How are you going to get traffic for this site, now?


Paul: As a user, we are working with the influencer network. They are constantly sharing their photos on our platform, and also linking the items. They can share that photo to other social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and we have a unique patent of sharing that, it just doesn’t share the photo, it shares along with the items that they’re wearing, so it drives interest from that social media platform, and it drives traffic back to our ad.


Roy: I don’t understand. You say it shares more than the … If I share onto Instagram with my photo onto FAPL, what’s the difference than any other photo?


Paul: Each of the items that you link on our platform will be shared together, right there with your photo.


Roy: It would show my photo, and then show a picture of the Coach bag, a picture of the shoes … each individual?


Paul: Correct. You got the perfect-


Roy: And that’s within the terms of service of Instagram? Trying to sell products on their platform?


Paul: It is impossible for Instagram, or Facebook, or Pinterest to make this happen. The reason is because they don’t have the clear separation between a product and a photo. They treat photo as just a photo. Product picture is a photo, any lifestyle picture is a photo, so they couldn’t build a relationship in between. Our platform, this is … if Instagram wants to do it, they’ll have to start from the scratch.


Roy: Your differentiation is you separate the products and the photos? But is It legal within the terms of service of Facebook and Instagram, or twitter, to start posting these things to sell products with links to sales?


Paul: Yes. We already have integrated Facebook. Right now, we’re working through the API to integrate into Instagram. We will get into Facebook and Instagram before this August.


Roy: You’re launching, when?


Paul: Currently, we’re in closed beta.  Everyone can sign up on our website, FAPL.co. We’ll be launching fully in early September, at the latest.


Roy: Who would be competition for you?


Paul: Right now, we really … I’ve known this industry for more than three years, researched it, there is no single direct competition, but there are a couple style-sharing apps that we direct. Something like, Gilt co-founder made an app called Project September, which you see a style that you like and it redirects to the website. That’s one of the competition. Another one will probably be Shop Spring. They just show you a bunch of product pictures. One of the differences is, that product picture is never interesting. What motivates people to see more is the lifestyle shots and the videos. Through that, usually when they see a picture they like on normal social media, or in magazine, they would normally have to go search on Google, then they will send us to ecommerce and search for the product again. We minimize all the efforts of that into just one single button.


Roy: You aggregated everything. Make it easier and easier for people to spend more and more money?


Paul: Yes, hopefully.


Roy: And I can make money. I can buy the clothes, then take my picture, put it up here, and make it back.


Paul: That’s the whole idea. One of the good things that we’re doing for all the people and brands is … Actually, annually, fashion brands are spending between sixteen to twenty percent of their revenue back into the marketing. But I know marketing does not help the brands product better, or it doesn’t drive any consumers, so I want to return that 16% back into hands of consumers and fashion brands.


Roy: Have you raised any money so far?


Paul: Yes, from day zero, we raised two million dollars. One million in the bank, and one million line of credit. Now, after we launch we are going for series A, for much faster movement, and … After concept proven we want to get bigger, faster, growth.


Roy: You’ve been marketing this in Beta? Have you gotten sales, or no?


Paul: We haven’t marketed anything. We just came to TechCrunch to show we are now going to start, but already more than 120 fashion brands have signed up, because it’s a no-brainer. There’s no cost for fashion brands. We only make money … We grow as fashion brands grow, and we only grow as users make money.


Roy: That sounds great. Where are you guys based?


Paul: We’re based in Los Angeles, California.


Roy: How many people are working? Is it just you, or do you have a couple people?


Paul: No, now our team grew quite a bit. Including interns, we have twelve people in our team now.


Roy: Are you looking to hire anybody? If so, what kind of people?


Paul: Yes, we are. We are trying to hire more people for our engineering team, we have five engineers currently, but in order to move faster, we’ll need more engineers. We use two languages for the commerce part. We are creating a sales team now, which we are calling brand evangelists. Whenever brands have a question, we need someone to answer that, so we are creating those two new teams right now.


Roy: That sounds great. Anything else you want to say that we didn’t discuss?


Paul: Sign up on FAPL.co!


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