John Poisson, Founder & CEOof Wantful
What is the mission of your company?
To help the world gift well.
Explain your business model - how do you make money?
Our is a principally a drop-ship retail model: we sell products at retail prices, and pay wholesale prices to have them delivered to our customer. The unit economics are very compelling, especially compared with brick and mortar retailers and online retailers with affiliate models.
Who do you compete with in this space and how are you different?
Our competitors are top retailers focused on quality products for discerning customers. Most of these are brick and mortar brands but we see a few online retailers that fit in this category. We also compete with lots of small, carefully-curated boutiques in which you might find a couple great products, but not much choice.
We're different in a few ways:
First, because we're so focused on the experience of giving and receiving gifts, we're able to help you in ways these companies simply can't. Their main answer to gift giving is either a gift card or a gift registry. Big business for them, terrible gift experiences for you.
Second, our model allows us to discover and offer thousands of products you won't find in mainstream retail. This is an important aspect of gift giving: you want to give something special, not the same item they've walked past a dozen times in three different stores.
And third, we believe retail is about to change dramatically. The new retail experience is personalized and tailored to your interests. It's driven by stories about the products you buy, and meets your needs in ways that big box stores simply can't manage. Everything we're building drives in this direction.
Where are your headquarters?
We're based in San Francisco and New York City.
Number of full-time employees?
$6.9MM, including a $4.5MM Series A in March.
Polaris Ventures, Greylock Partners, Harrison Metal Capital, Forerunner Ventures, and a syndicate of angels investors including Ali Pincus (One King's Lane), Dennis Crowley (Foursquare), James Min (Montgomery & Co.) and Brian Lee (ShoeDazzle, LegalZoom).
This is my fourth business as an entrepreneur (two visual effects studios, a mobile social media company, and Wantful), and in between I've held roles at Avid, Microsoft, and Sony Tokyo.