inSelly is a Marketplace for Instagram. We bring together all the sales offers from the world’s favorite social network in one place, and make them easily searchable, sortable and shoppable. Currently the inSelly database has close to 1 million listings, mostly from US, Canadian and European instagram users. These include fashion items, jewelry, children’s goods, art pieces, home decor elements, and much more. We also offer every Instagram user a handy tool to create their own online store in just a few minutes and few clicks, using pictures from his or her Instagram account. There are no setup or sales commissions, everything is as easy and straight forward as it can be.
At whom is your startup aimed?
We are mainly aimed at Instagram users who love this social network, and use it not only to share pictures with their friends, but also to find great shopping deals and sell their own stuff.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
inSelly offers a wide range of features for both sellers and buyers, and it’s free to use in the basic version. Our competitors on the other hand only provide a fraction of our features, and have a set monthly fee for all users.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
I’m a passionate instagrammer and online shopper myself. One day I realized how many awesome shops there are hidden inside the social network, and how hard it is to discover them using the Instagram hashtag search.There were no existing services that would facilitate the selling and buying of products on Instagram, nor was there a website where I could find all those sales offers together and easily surf through them. So, creating a solution was an obvious decision.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
I got obsessed with the idea of united marketplace for Instagram and didn’t doubt a second that this is something I should do.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I have a degree in Travel Management, and started in business at the age of 20 when I founded my own Destination Management Company. It was an exciting journey, but after nearly 10 years in business, I’ve realized that it’s time for new challenges. Creating a social commerce startup seemed to be a perfect fit as it is a dynamic innovative industry with lots of opportunities to apply my skills and knowledge.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Our team went through a startup accelerator where we received angel investment which helped us shape the concept, and build and launch the product.
What has been your greatest achievement so far? How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last years?
We went through a long process of iterations and improvements, did a lot of marketing work, and now we’re happy to see that more and more sellers are coming to inSelly after being referred by shop owners who already use our platform.
How long has your business been in making, and who is the team behind the business?
We’ve launched our first MVP in January 2014 and kicked off with beta version in August. Our team consists of five people who come from different areas of expertise: ninja-hacker, new media specialist turned entrepreneur, eBay power seller, business graduate, and an events manager. All together we make up a truly winning combination, bringing together a wide range of skills and passion for what we do.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge for any marketplace is the “chicken and egg problem”, when you have to ensure a perfect balance between the demand and the supply. This is a challenge that will remain for years, but I can say we are currently pretty good at managing this part of the business.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
Our ultimate goal is to become an exciting peer-to-peer social shopping destination. And, of course, to remain the easiest tool for online selling for small and micro business owners, crafters, indie designers, and regular Instagram users.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
The importance of feedback. You can never be sure that you are building a valuable product that will meet the needs of your target customers unless you listen to them. It’s not always easy to get the feedback, but it’s essential for a startup success.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Make sure there is a market for what you build and that you understand the needs of your potential customers. Don’t invest much in developing and marketing until you’ve validated your business idea.