snapette founders jinhee ahn kim (left) & sarah paiji (right)
Snap happy What happens when you mix two parts Harvard, one part Parsons, and a whole lotta love for startups? Meet Snapette, the hottest new fashion app created by Harvard alums Jinhee Ahn Kim and Sarah Paiji
Rachel Dagdagan // February 2012
hen Snapette cofounder Jinhee Anh Kim moved to London during the summer of 2010, she was overwhelmed with all the shopping choices and had no clue where to start. “You’ve been to Portobello Road, right? All that stuff, you get on that street and there’s blocks and blocks and side streets... I couldn’t remember what I researched. Why couldn’t I open an app where I can kind of peek inside the stores and see which ones would be worth going into?” That question formed the idea for what eventually became Snapette, an eight-month old location-based iPhone app that pairs social media and shopping. Tapping the mobile market was the best move that Kim and Paiji could have made. The success of the app is dependent on users taking pictures of wherever they’re shopping and posting to the visual platform, which builds a view of what people are shopping for in their locales. Though the founders of Snapette are both Harvard alumni, Jinhee Anh Kim and Sarah Paiji couldn’t have more varied backgrounds. Kim explains, “I’m not your typical startup founder, I’m 21 years older than Sarah, so I’ve had a lot of time to have a lot of careers.” Following her graduation from Harvard Business School, Kim worked for Bain & Co. in Boston; eventually moving to New York to make a start in the fashion business. Working in merchandising for Liz Claiborne led to a degree in fashion design from Parsons. After working for Ralph Lauren menswear in the
2 Rachel Dagdagan // February 2012
what is snapette?
That’s where the idea came from, from my move to London and trying to make heads or tails out of all the shopping opportunities there. Jinhee Ann Kim
late 80’s and 90’s, Kim took a selfprescribed “mommy break”, during which she lived in Singapore and Hong Kong. A few years ago, on the forefront of the app explosion, Kim was one of the first on the market with an educational app for kids. She eventually relocated to London, where she first had the idea of merging her loves for technology and fashion. Kim continues, “Sarah went to Harvard undergrad, and then most recently Harvard Business School. She has a much more traditional background - after Harvard she was a managing consultant for Mackenzie in New York. At one point she was at Goldmann Sachs. She decided to go to HBS because she wanted a career change, and wanted to get more involved in the consumer side.” The pair met at an all classes reunion in November 2010, where they chatted about their mutual interest in startups. Paiji was looking for an idea; Kim had the idea. “She has a lot of great skills that I don’t have, so we
Snapette is a location-based mobile app for shoppers and merchants. Ever wonder what’s going on in your favorite store? Well, with Snapette, the wondering could be over. Users worldwide can snap a photo of an accessory in their favorite store, and upload it to the app’s sharing platform. Simply put, Snapette’s users aggregate a glance inside a store without you ever having to step inside. “Snapette is a fun and social way to share & discover great fashion finds from around the corner and around the world. Snapette lets you browse the hottest shoes and bags near your current location. So instead of running around looking for that perfect pair of shoes, you can just check Snapette to discover what styles are in stores near you. You can also see what’s trending right now in New York, London, Tokyo or anywhere around the world by viewing what users globally are posting from their favorite stores.”* *As written in the iTunes app store. Visit iTunes to download your free Snapette app today.
if I want to find silver shoes in the real world, within a 10 mile radius of where I live? There’s no way to search and shop in the physical world. Sarah Paiji
decided to team up together.” Harvard’s January Term was the perfect opportunity for exploring the idea further. Paiji stayed in London with Kim for the duration, where they did their research and hashed out the business plan. “It wasn’t until the summer that we started developing. I had a full time job in London, she was a full time student, and we were also doing this full time - more than 40 hours a week. We got into [Dave McClure’s] 500 Startups incubator - so, Sarah and I moved out to California. She took her last exam and then the next day we were in the car for a 3-day roadtrip to Mountain View.” The summer flew by, and soon Snapette was ready to launch. “Development on the app happened during the summer, demo day was in August, and then after that we had fundraising. We closed pretty quickly, launched in late fall, and now we’re rolling as a company! Sarah dropped out of HBS right before classes started this year to focus on the company.” Just before the holidays, and in time for Fall fashion week, Snapette made the move from Mountain View to New York City. Torn between the center of technology in California and fashion in New York, Kim is optimistic that Snapette’s new hometown is catching up with tech. “The move just made sense, with who our
end customers are. It’s challenging because we’re fashion and tech. The tech side is great to be out in the valley - the whole ecosystem there - and all the talented people we were able to meet. The energy there is amazing. But in terms of fashion companies, and the brands and the media, that’s mostly in New York,” Kim explained. “New York is creating its own tech startup scene, there are
snapette’s userfriendly interface
ous. “I’ve learned how little sleep I can go on and still function,” Kim laughs. “Seriously, we sleep about 3-4 hours a night. Thank God for cover up and concealer! It’s so unglamorous, but I knew that going in. Everything takes 3 times longer than you expect, every day. Because it’s a startup, every day is something new it’s not a job that you go to and know what you’re doing. That is what’s fun about it, but it causes so much anxiety. We’re creating something new, and something people haven’t done before. It’s exciting and it keeps me up at night.” The Snapette team is working on an iPad release and developing a version for the android platform. Kim says, “We’re tweaking it all the time and working on new stuff, making the user experience better, asking ourselves what we can do to make it better. I know it sounds so cheesy, but to be an entrepreneur, you have to be an optimist. It’s so positive, even with all the bugs and crashes. It’s just a great environment.” -r.d.
a lot of initiatives going right now. We’re getting to know the people here. It’s a different kind of energy.” Exciting things are happening for Snapette, with users worldwide chronicling their shopping trips and sharing with other users. No matter how glam the app is, behind-thescenes of a startup is never glamorRachel Dagdagan // February 2012