WhatNot: Livestream shopping is coming to a smartphone screen near you

March 5, 2021

Imagine if Instagram, Pinterest, and eBay had a kid. Kaleidoscope of colors aside, it’d be the ultimate social ecommerce experience.

Well, this baby has taken the form of WhatNot — a livestream marketplace and social network for fans of collectibles like sports cards and Funko Pop.

Just months after raising their seed round, WhatNot closed a $20m Series A led by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. The Hustle spoke with WhatNot’s founder Grant LaFontaine to get the lowdown:

Shopatainment is a thing

In China, livestream shopping is already a ~$170B market.

What’s the appeal of the format, though?

  • Joy of discovery: “It turns online shopping into entertainment,” LaFontaine says. “eBay feels impersonal while Instagram and YouTube don’t have purpose-built selling tools.”
  • Community: It brings together like-minded people who can chat and geek-out in real time.
  • High engagement and loyalty: For marketplaces like WhatNot, the best defense against competitors is building a sticky community where more and more buyers and sellers flock.

What’s the deal with collectibles?

Demand for collectibles like Pokémon cards have skyrocketed during quarantine, driven by:

  • Entertainment: People are seeking new communities and activities.
  • Childhood nostalgia: More people are now home and digging up those dusty Yu-Gi-Oh! binders.
  • Storing value in assets: This is similar to the buzz around crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

As WhatNot expands into new categories, it spends time and money to launch with a passionate community from Day 1.

As LaFontaine put it: “it’s similar to Uber launching into new cities — there’s no point in having drivers if people don’t know that [Uber] is now there.”

WhatNot’s future is bright

It’s hiring and expanding into new categories like comics and vintage video games.

And with couples connecting on the app, LaFontaine jokes that maybe “even a dating feature” could become a reality.


Source: WhatNot

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