Idealog Pitch Circus winners develop way to (subtly) tell everyone what you want for Christmas

The winning entry from Idealog's recent Pitch Circus event has a solution for all of us facing the “63 shopping days till Christmas, and no idea what to get for the folks” blues?

Or for those people sick of only getting unwanted t-shirts for their birthday? A brother-sister start-up team have come up with a collaborative shopping experience, where you can share your shopping wish-list with your friends and family – and at the same time check out what they might like you to be buying them. 

On the hunt for funding, Nicky and Sam Walsh pitched their shopping idea in front of 120 Idealog aficionados at the inaugural Idealog Live/Pitch Circus in Auckland last month – and emerged as the winner. 

Coming to a device near you before Christmas, Curate.co.nz is a product discovery website where people can go to find, save and share stuff they might like to buy, and/or follow friends (and their shopping choices) and/or keep in touch with stores they like.

It was started by designer Nicky Walsh, 25, and her developer brother Sam, 23, last year.

“It’s a social way to shop,” Nicky Walsh says.

Call it window shopping-sharing. You see an item for sale you like. You save it on Curate, where a big (and hopefully beautiful) image of the desired item and its price and dimensions appears. 

Others can see what you like, admire (or not) your taste, comment, and share. 

If you’re lucky, they’ll get it for you for Christmas (if you haven’t succumbed yourself first. Meanwhile, you can follow friends, or favourite shops. Products your mates have saved appear on your feed, alongside new stuff from your followed shops.

Nicky Walsh says Curate also puts an end to saving items to your online shopping cart, only to go away and forget about them – or even what website you were on.

She says the idea has come a long way from its starting point. Originally the Walshes wanted a way to save products that you had recently bought, so that it was easier if you wanted to on-sell them. 

“But we found that was kind of a niche concept – we thought it had legs but we quickly realised that while useful, we didn’t think it would be hugely popular.”

So they pivoted quickly, and came up with the idea for Curate. “We thought, what if you could create an online wishlist of what you want for Christmas? Never again will you get something you don’t want for your birthday.”

They spent late 2013 defining and redefining their idea, then in March 2014, Sam quit his job. Nicky wasn’t far behind, moving to work on Curate full time from July.

The duo are currently completing their beta launch, and Sam says the feedback from both punters and shops has been good.

“We’ve had overwhelming interest from stores which have seen traffic coming through from the website,” Sam says. 

“Plus a lot of bloggers are keen on it because it gives them a way to collect products they might want to feature on their blog.”

Curate is targeting 25–35 year-olds with disposable income, though Nicky Walsh says they won’t throw out any oldies.

“We’re definitely targeting that [younger] age group but we’ve had a large response from people over 50.”

The revenue model for Curate is still in testing, with the Walshes looking at options.

Their preference is for stores to pay for click-through sales conversions to their online shops. But another alternative is a retailer monthly subscription fee.

Nicky Walsh says this is the first business venture for the two of them. 

“But we’ve always said we’re gonna work together.  Sam’s a brilliant web developer and I have strong skills in user experience and user interface design. The skill set seemed so logical, we just thought we’d give it a go.”

The siblings want to keep the startup lean and mean, so they’ve both moved back home with mum and dad Walsh, who they say are really supportive.

So far Curate has been running off the pair’s savings, but in the next two months they will be looking for investors.

They want to bring on two more developers, and invest in marketing to stores and converting them to becoming paying customers. They see pre-Christmas as the perfect time to launch.

“We’ve got stores ready to go on trial when we launch,” Nicky Walsh says.

“Seeing it gain popularity before Christmas is a real opportunity for us. 

“It’s going to be all about the Curate Christmas Wishlist: helping you figure out what your family wants for Christmas.”⋅

If you want to compete in the next Idealog Pitch Circus event get in touch with us at editor@idealog.co.nz. If your idea is chosen, you will need to prepare a 3.33 minute presentation about your business idea and why you deserve the Pitch Circus prize package. Winners get featured in Idealog magazine, and receive cash, a package of business and IP advice and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.