Lang, Abuzar and I started tote to help people discover and shop looks and trends put together by their friends and influencers. We had come to believe that the traditional way of online shopping was no longer the main driving force behind discovery. People were turning to Pinterest and Instagram for discovery and they ultimately wanted to shop what they discovered, which wasn’t possible at the time. Hence, we created tote as a place for a curated shopping experience.
The inspiration for tote came from my wife, who is an avid online shopper. In 2014, I noticed a shift in her online shopping behavior. Instead of visiting her favorite retailers’ websites and scrolling through endless items, she was browsing influencers on Pinterest, Instagram, and fashion blogs. The most fascinating part was that discovery was prioritized over shopping and shopping was a natural byproduct of discovery, not the other way around. My wife was not alone in this behavioral shift. We noticed that this behavior was happening amongst many of our friends.
In this new world, merchandising is no longer at the sole discretion of retailers and brands, but instead it is personalized, editorialized, and spread via thousands of influencers — bloggers and consumers alike. Many of these influencers have built a sizable following and business, so we knew we were on the right track. We therefore poured our focus into building discovery features for our users and publishing tools for bloggers. We were very lucky to receive amazing feedback from our early adopters. We shadowed some of them on their shopping trips and online browsing sessions to better understand their behavior, problems they faced, and products that could help them. The end result was tote — an engaging app and website for users to discover and shop the latest trends.
The hard reality of building a consumer business is that a great product alone does not result in a viable business. As we geared up to raise our next round of funding, we came across an opportunity to join Pinterest where we could launch our work to 100M+ engaged users. Pinterest already has the largest catalog of ideas with 75 billion pins. It is the only major platform in the world where its users enjoy saving content from businesses; in fact, three out of four items saved by users are from businesses. Pinterest has also recently made big bets on commerce, courting influencers, and launching a powerful ad platform. We believe that with these key building blocks, Pinterest is now positioned more than any other service to create the future we had hoped for in tote, and we are absolutely thrilled to join them in this journey!
tote will be shutting down on July 15th. You can migrate your account to Pinterest by visiting our website.
It has been a crazy ride for us. A HUGE thanks to our users, investors, brand ambassadors, friends, and family for their support. Without them tote would have simply never existed.
-Mike, Abuzar, and Lang