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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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