Tophatter is an e-commerce retailer that sees itself as the anti-Amazon. While that gigantic online marketplace is where shoppers turn to buy what they need, Tophatter focuses more on what consumers didn't know they wanted.
Pulling up the app is like stepping into the world's busiest discount mall. Act now! Deals won't last! Users compete in 90-second "flash" auctions where sellers are hawking everything from teeth-whitening kits to rare coins. It's as if QVC appeared on your smartphone as a video game. That "gorgeous 18K white-gold-filled faux-diamond ring" has 55 bids and is going, going ..." Bam! You bought it!
"We're all about discovery shopping," says Andrew Blachman, Tophatter's chief operations officer. "You come to us without a particular purchase in mind but leave with, say, a great refurbished laptop or a new watch that's 80 percent off retail value." Most customer purchases are between $10 and $20.
For many the experience is addictive. The company has 12 million registered users, mostly in the United States, and 2 million items are sold each month. Blachman anticipates 2017 sales will range between $300 million and $350 million on transactions of roughly $1 million each day. The company estimates it will make $100 million in revenue this year, up from around $40 million in 2016. The phone app, where most users interact with the platform, has more than 10 million downloads. All that makes investors the happiest auction winners of all.
More from iCONIC:
Why this self-made multimillionaire says you can't rush success
3 things Dollar Shave Club's CEO learned about success from improv
A blogger's social media revolution sparks a retail revolution
"It's going to the bazaar or market, like we've been doing for hundreds of years, but bringing it to a mobile app in a super-compelling way," says Eric Kim, managing partner of Goodwater Capital, a major Tophatter backer, along with August Capital and CRV. The company has raised $35 million since launching in 2011. "At a time when people say retail is dying and the mall is dead, these guys have figured out a way to get customers shopping again."