An invitation-only lifestyle platform, Ahmedabad-based startup Smytten aims to be the destination site for consumers looking for new products and experiences. To emphasise on exactly how exclusive the application is, it has a deep algorithm built for profiling of consumers wherein there is a 26% chance of rejection as well.
Smytten was founded by Indian School of Business alumni Siddhartha Nangia and Swagata Sarangi. While Nangia had worked for Hindustan Unilever in India and abroad, Sarangi had worked at Google and McKinsey. Launched in 2015, the application currently has more than 25,000 customers.
The invitation-only app allows customers to select only three products at a time for free trial. Once the customer has provided feedback on the products and purchased at least one product, she is allowed to try three more. The start-up provides samples of products ranging from beauty and healthcare to lifestyle and technology categories, and the average price of products are Rs 2,000. The algorithm, which routinely rejects students’ invitations to be on the platform, displays products according to the particular user’s profile. For each individual customer, 70% of the products are those that they might buy, while 30% are “aspirational” products.
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“We are helping companies reach the customers, giving exposure to their products, telling them if their products are being bought and we are also helping customers explore their options. We want to be the de-facto platform for premium products and services. The potential for the premium space is high, since people want value-for-money. Our customers are not looking for discounts, but for service,” elaborates Nangia.
The start-up offers services such as a three-hour Harley Davidson motorcycle ride, where the bike is dropped off at the location provided by the customer and later picked up. Smytten users can also choose to experience spas or golf courses. In Bengaluru, they also offer customers the chance to experience Inoho’s ‘smart rooms’. In Ahmedabad, Smytten allows customers to try horse riding for half-an-hour at a saddle club, which is said to be among the biggest such clubs in India and Asia. It also has tie-ups with several restaurants. Customers based in Gurgaon can sample a two-hour Formula One car ride, while those in Bengaluru can ride in a vintage car.
Smytten is also “choosy” about the brands it partners with. Nangia explains, “We get the products tested by a panel which includes some of our friends and even bloggers. There should be a perfect fit with the premium categories that Smytten offers—which is the first test for any brand that approaches us. Packaging of the product is especially important to us. We then consider the kind of samples that the brand is willing to give out. Since we are a curated platform, we also don’t want to give our customers too many options.” The start-up has tied up with more than 180 brands, with a 40% margin on products sold on its site. About 65% of its customer base is in the 28-40 age group, and 85% are female. Around 70 % of demand comes from metro cities, while non-metros are gradually picking up.
“By mid-2017, we plan to have at least 500 brands on board with us. We also want to get into three new categories, namely paintings, leather products as well as baby products,” Nangia says. “We will be looking at funding in the next few months for expanding our customer base and marketing. We are currently burning cash, but every month the amount of cash we are burning is reducing.”