Online shopping has completely transformed how the world shops for fashion and with the popularity of smartphones, mobile-first shopping experiences seem to be gaining momentum too.
Enter a company that describes themselves as the ‘Fashion Google’ — Goxip. The Hong Kong-based company is an online marketplace that uses image recognition technology to help shoppers search and snap for fashion and beauty.
We spoke to Juliette Gimenez, CEO and Co-founder of the rapidly growing company to find out more.
Tell us about Goxip. How did you come up with the idea?
I was trying to solve my own problem. I would read magazines to see what celebrities were wearing but I couldn’t afford those items. So I tried to coordinate the look with similar things myself. It was a painful experience. I thought I put a cool outfit together — but in reality, it really wasn’t cool.
The shopping experience was also lengthy. I had to go through all the online shops, one by one, to find the item of clothing I wanted. This could take an entire evening. So this was me on a Friday or Saturday night, with a very large bottle of wine due to the time it took.
I thought there has to be a better shopping experience out there. That’s where the idea came from. To offer a more efficient experience and provide one destination to shop for clothes.
What makes Goxip different from the other shopping apps?
We are the ‘Mummy’ of all of those shopping apps. With us, you can shop at Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, Matches Fashion and more. We are the aggregator of these retailers. So shopping on Goxip means you have access to 500 different retailers with over 5 million products to choose from.
You can also snap and shop. You can take a photo of any item you like and upload it. Our image recognition technology spots similar items and shows them to you as visuals, and then you can purchase them. Shopping like this is not only easier and faster, but it also allows price comparison.
You were in banking before becoming an entrepreneur, what inspired the change?
I studied Economics in the UK and went into banking for 3 years. I didn’t know what I wanted to do then, but I was good at numbers. And I did well, I progressed in my career. But over time, I realised it didn’t excite me and I asked myself “is this it for my life?” So I decided to quit at 25.
After that I tried to find what I was passionate about. Naturally, shopping came up. I remember I even applied to be a Louis Vuitton sales assistant in their stores. But I didn’t get that job! After that, I happened to meet the founder of Caffe Habitu, Jennifer Liu and it was then that I started opening myself up to be an entrepreneur. I learnt how to look at the bigger picture and eventually began helping her run the business. So she promoted me to be Vice President of the company. I learnt so much then.
The funding for Goxip, how did that all happen?
It was pure luck! We won the Breakthrough competition at RISE Hong Kong in 2015 and started getting some exposure. Suddenly the investment assistants of Vincent Tan (billionaire Malaysian businessman and investor) picked it up. Next thing I know we get a phone call and fly to Kuala Lumpur the week after. Within an hour of meeting, we shake hands and get the investment.
What do you put your success down to?
I don’t let anything go easily. If at all. I am extremely thick-skinned. When you believe in something, you need to be thick-skinned to take it through to the end. But the direct success of Goxip is due to the fact that the same mentality is within the whole team. When we hire people, we need to make sure they’re thick-skinned too. They need the perseverance to push through, not be afraid to ask and ask again. That is how we got to where we are now — a team of twenty thick-skinners.
What’s the next step for Goxip?
Hong Kong is a good success case for Goxip, so now we will replicate it for Thailand. We just opened our Bangkok office.
And then this year, we have another baby born under the Goxip group called RewardSnap. It’s a monetisation platform for social media influencers; connecting them to fashion and beauty brands. Influencers then receive commission when followers purchase products featured in their posts. We soft launched three weeks ago and have 150 signees, like celebrity stylist Tianyo Mayao and model Angie Ng. The gross number of followers is already above 10 million.
Do you see any trends for online shopping in Asia?
Hong Kong adopts web very easily, but prefer not to commit in downloading mobile apps. In South East Asia, it’s about half web and half apps. As for fashion, I see more people looking to Instagram for inspiration but there isn’t an efficient shopping experience there — no direct payment gateway yet, so transactions are offline.
I also see brands and designers struggling to unlock their online shopping potential because the tools aren’t there. Goxip provides this with a marketplace store; we can put you in front of 350,000 active users. We have some bigger brands that do exactly this, like bareMinerals (the US cosmetics brand owned by Shiseido). They don’t have a dotcom to buy products and Goxip is the only online shop they have.
Any advise for budding entrepreneurs and new start ups?
If you believe in it, don’t give up on it. You start with the idea but to really make something of it takes time. Along the way, you will get a lot rejection, even from your friends. So halfway through, you may lose confidence and enter phase two – self doubt. Is this going anywhere? Most people will quit at this point. But the truth is, you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labour in the early stages of your business. It takes time to see real results.
So my advice is, don’t give up easily and don’t quit halfway!