Following this week’s announcement that LetsBab has been shortlisted for Startup of the Year by Startup Grind Europe, in partnership with Google, we caught up with Bonnie Takhar, founder and CEO, to see why they were selected from thousands of applicants and to understand more about the origins of LetsBab.
Could you tell us about LetsBab?
LetsBab is a digital mall where you can shop and share products with your friends, and best of all get paid for it in cash. The app pays real people for their recommendations, which they can keep or donate. Until we launched the only people getting paid for their influence were influencers/bloggers, with companies spending billions on influencer marketing. We'd like a big chunk of this to go to the every person. To use LetsBab you don’t need a social media footprint, a following or likes, just an authentic voice and a passion for the brands you share.
What were you doing before you founded LetsBab and what inspired you to start up on your own?
Before LetsBab, I held a number of executive roles within the fashion industry, including Earl Jean, Jimmy Choo, Halston and most recently as CEO of Charlotte Olympia. Ten years ago I came up with the idea of launching a platform for people to make and receive recommendations to their trusted friends and family. The sentiment of ‘if I had a dollar for every time I recommend this…” was something I had heard time and time again, but which had never been realised. I saw a clear opportunity to enable others to be empowered and feel connected, whilst doing something they already did - sharing ideas and recommendations. From this the origins of LetsBab were born.
Since then I’ve watched the increasing disruption across distribution channels and marketing tools through the rise of ecommerce and social media. Between 2012 - 2017, global consumer markets have witnessed the rise and power of the influencer, which is in itself going through a shift towards the more authentic voice of the micro-influencer. In 2018 I realised it was now or never for 'real influence' to be rewarded through a digital direct selling tool, with the most authentic marketing voice - you! LetsBab offers brands a closer and more transparent relationship with you, by putting you in charge of how you shop and share your recommendations. Through LetsBab I have set out to democratise the voice of recommendation, and for the past year we've been beavering away to turn this idea into a reality.
What has your business achieved to date?
Startup Grind Europe, in partnership with Google, have just announced that LetsBab has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Startup of the Year award. Over 3,000 start-ups, investors, and innovators will converge in London for discussions around the future of startups, venture capital, artificial intelligence, fintech, and more! LetsBab is being recognised for its product innovation, disruption to the influencer marketing landscape and milestones reached since our launch.
The team have already onboarded over 100 partner brands onto the platform - from ASOS to The Body Shop. We all know that brands are constantly seeking the most authentic influencer voice to maximise the impact of their marketing spend. The value of the influencer economy is poised to reach $5 - $10bn by 2022, and yet brands struggle to track the ROI. This is where LetsBab is uniquely positioned to provide the only truly democratic recommendation platform, giving brands a powerful revenue tool with a clear and trackable ROI. Our tech team has developed a fully automated and easily scalable platform through our proprietary technology, to create a marketplace for brands.
We are also working with 16 charity partners, including Cancer Research and Women for Women International; when users earn cash on our platform they can choose to keep it or donate it to charity. One upcoming project we are excited to share is the partnership we have with CoppaFeel!, the first breast cancer charity in the UK to solely create awareness amongst young people. We will be their official Freshers Week sponsor showcasing LetsBab across 60 UK Universities.
We have also built up a loyal userbase, who are on average spending more than 25 minutes a day on the app, shopping, recommending and donating. Through the authenticity of the platform we are also delighted that 12% of recommendations made are converting into direct brand sales
What’s next for LetsBab?
We have lots of exciting things happening over the next few months, including the roll out of a web version that will allow users to make recommendations through our website. At LetsBab we are ambitious, and although the mobile commerce market was valued at an estimated $1.4 Trillion in 2017, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to this when the ecommerce market as a whole was estimated at $2.3 Trillion for the same period.
Our tech team are also busy working on functionality that allows users to split their 5% cash commission with a friend. At LetsBab we listen to our users, and this is something they have asked for; not only will it enhance user experience but it will also help drive additional sales.
Whilst we launched with UK and US versions of our app, we are already looking to the wider market with EU and ROW versions being rolled out in year two.
Why did you decide to launch a crowdfunding campaign?
In the spirit of our democratic platform we thought that Crowdcube would be a great fit. We wanted to give the every person an opportunity to become a shareholder in LetsBab, so do check out our pitch!
Find out more about LetsBab and invest on their pitch page.
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