An Austin startup called Cinsay has a new way for merchants big and small to sell their wares on the internet. At first glance you may find yourself saying, not another e-commerce platform, however the team behind Cinsay has done a great job of blending video with e-commerce.
It’s pretty straight forward. Companies of any size, either one man shops, or stores the size of Neiman Marcus can sign up for a Cinsay account. From there users can upload a video that features their products. Within the video photos are extracted to the top of the viewing pane and end users can click on those products to share, get more info or complete a purchase.
So after getting the preliminary interview back from Cinsay we weren’t yet sold on the idea of using video quite this way. What’s wrong with going somewhere like Bestbuy.com, Amazon.com or even ebay searching for what you want and buying it. Well NeimanMarcus’ Cinsay page is what sold us on the concept. And then we couldn’t stop looking at stores on Cinsay.
Now mind you guys that nibletz, the voice of startups everywhere else, is still just a budding startup. We’ve only raised an angel round to date so Neiman Marcus is really the last place we’d ever shop, top that off with the fact that the video was on women’s clothes, but the concept intrigued us.
It looks like part commercial, part product video but every outfit the models showed off would pop up into the top of the window and you could easily purchase by clicking the picture of the item and going to that items page. $695 was way too much for a plaid blazer I would never wear but nevertheless it was intrguing.
So I did what you would probably do and I clicked the technology category. I quickly realized that the 360 degree view you get from a video is much more enticing than a normal picture. Sold!
We got a chance to talk with the guys behind Cinsay, check out the interview below.
What is Cinsay?
Cinsay is the world’s first social video commerce technology that offers a turnkey business solution. That is our core business model. What’s easiest to understand is this concept. What if you could take YouTube, eBay, Google analytics, PayPal and Café Press and throw them in a blender? You’d basically pour out Cinsay. We have a patented video platform which can be syndicated across social networks and viewed on mobile devices. We call it the “Smart Store” and inside that platform are complete eCommerce solutions, the ability to take donations and the ability to capture leads all without viewers ever leaving the video. People can share it on Facebook, email it, embed it on Tumblr or WordPress while the users managing the Smart Store have access to merchant account services, detailed metrics and analytics as well as a huge inventory of on demand, brandable products.
We’ve just added 19 new global brands to our Smart Store merchants as well those include: Pacific Sunwear, Virgin Atlantic, Loft, GoDaddy.com, REI, Brookstone and many more>> http://www.mycinsay.com/c/cinsay-global-brands
In layman’s terms, how does it work?
For the user, it’s quite simple. There’s no need for technical understanding. They set up an account using their Facebook login or email, upload a video and images of products or services they sell, write some descriptive text and they are in business Merchants can even add products from Cinsay On Demand with branded merchandise like t-shirts, iPhone covers, posters and dozens of other items they’ll never need to inventory! Once complete, they can share their Smart Store via email, and multiple social sites. Viewers can watch, shop and share as well. On the technical part, we’ve built our propriety technology using elements of Magento, and distribute the Smart Store all over the web and mobile media using Amazon and Akamai’s enterprise CDNs. Merchants can download our free iPhone app to post video and images from anywhere to their CMS library – which is perfect for bands and artists. Our analytics provide one of the most in–depth, real-time set of reporting tools available in the world.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I’ve been involved in start-ups and venture capital for years. My background includes 25+ years in hard asset management. I’ve invested in several technology and entertainment companies. I’ve also been involved in investing in and research of rare antiquities markets. Add to that collecting performance race cars. I don’t have much time to race right now however.
Where are you based?
We are headquartered in Austin with our operations in Dallas, Texas
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Austin is the new Silicon Valley. The culture is young, open, unpretentious, smart, driven and friendly. We have some of the most promising start-up companies of any city in the U.S. Add to that SXSWs annual event with cutting edge technology, film and music and we have the perfect Texas pro-business town. Austin is a very refreshing and creative place to be and its culture is a great fit for Cinsay.
How did you come up with the idea for Cinsay?
From seeing the need to empower video platforms with the ability to sell. Product placements, and advertisements are great but where’s the action to purchase? Cinsay enables anyone, anywhere to watch, shop and share – all from one video.
How did you come up with the name?
Cinsay is a trademarked version of the word ‘Sensei’ which, in Japanese, means, teacher or master. We believe Cinsay can teach you to master ecommerce in a way no one has ever done before now; enabling you to become successful using social video commerce and build your own business.
What problem does Cinsay solve?
Back to the definition of ‘Cinsay’, we simply provide the best way for people to watch, shop and share. With traditional ecommerce conversions average 1.2%, we’ve seen our Smart Store platform dramatically increase conversion rates as high as 10%. Leveraging social media, video and ecommerce or donations into one solution is the new way to do business.
What’s your secret sauce?
We believe in innovation, quality, passion and reward. That goes from new features we add to our technology to the employees who build this company each and every day. Our collective goal is to bring a new ecommerce solution to everyone.
What’s one dilemma you’ve encountered in the startup process?
Startups are full of challenges. Raising money, proving your concept out and marketing your business to driving new revenues; these are all hurdles we continue to jump over successfully each quarter.
What’s one challenge you’ve overcome in the startup process?
Many companies in the early phases of their launch will not be as flexible to recognize a need for a change in direction or technology and will therefor fail. The challenge is to look beyond your product and listen to your users feedback in realtime. We’ve evolved and made course changes multiple times to reach the rapid growth stage where we are now.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Anyone who takes on a challenge, takes the risks and discipline to see it through and then exceeds everyone’s expectations. There are so many to choose from with great stories and examples.
What’s next for Cinsay?
We are growing each month and heading into 2013, we look to become a viable solution to those wanting to leverage video and mobile for ecommerce, donations and lead generation. The market for our solution is huge and next year will prove that out.