Sarah Paiji “Don’t be Afraid to Go Pink”
Sarah Paij graduated from Harvard Business School in 2011 and developed a successful shopping app called “Snapette” with her business partner Jinhee Ahn Kim. . Snapette is a specialized shopping app that allows users to directly upload items they have discovered while shopping and share those items through social networks, especially to users nearby. Attracting more than 1.5 million users in a short period, Snapette ranked highly on lists such as “Editors’ Choices” and “10 essential fashion apps designated by International Business Time”, and earned favorable comments from people in related fields. Two years after its launch, the company was acquired by PriceGrabber. Co-founder Sarah Paiji is currently the CMO of M.gemi, which handles high quality Italian shoes.
Snapette is a great example of a successful startup that utilized creative ideas and keenly analyzed the market, both key factors for startup success. Consumer culture has completely changed due to the online and mobile revolution, and online shopping growth has skyrocketed, allowing people to easily purchase items by using a computer in a living room or on a smartphone. However, traditional shopping culture that entails directly visiting a store and looking around is, and perhaps forever will be, the central consumer culture. For female consumers especially, the process of walking around a department store and picking items is a recreation activity as well as a social activity. Moreover, in some situations it is necessary to visit the store because various stores, particularly high end fashion brands,tend not to have item lists, sale announcements, and online shopping options on their websites. Snapette understood and targeted this bisection of shopping culture through the integration of the SNS platform.
“Foodspotting”, sharing pictures of highly rated restaurants or food on Facebook or instagram, is very familiar to social media users, but the idea of applying this trend to fashion shopping is a brainchild of Snapette. Although currently foodspotting became a trend of everyone casually sharing any kind of food, on the early days of social media, mostly female users used to share pretty and petite photos of food, such as macaroon and latte art. Snapette targeted female users’ desire to share what they have consumed, the key factor for its success.
During an interview, Sarah Paiji advised “Don’t be afraid to go Pink”. As “Go Green” means the advocacy for environmentally friendly growth, “Go Pink” means to “ embrace femininity”. Its name is the combination of the word “Snap”, to take a picture, with “-ette”, a feminine suffix. In addition, more than 90% of the users are women, and the app specializes in women’s clothing. There was feedback that male users feel uncomfortable using the app, but Sarah Paiji daringly decided to let go of male users and tailor Snapette specifically to female users.
There is more to Sarah Paiji’s bold business management. The recent version – Snapette 2.0 – has the ability to handle all types of women’s clothing, including dresses, which was unavailable during the development phase. Along with issue of size, compared to photos of shoes and handbags that are simple, photos of tops, bottoms, and dresses were likely to be taken as selfies. Photos of people with a variety of body shapes and facial features would be shared through Snapette, a variable hard to predict. Deciding that the wide variety of clothing types could entail too much of a risk, Sarah Paiji solely focused on shoes and handbags. Prioritizing simplicity, embracing the results of market research that women prefer simple features, and focusing on “female users who enjoy shopping and fashion”, Sarah Paiji created Snapette, an ultimate realization of her business philosophy.
Thanks to Yong Hyun for the original article