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Conversation
Highlights

 

Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries — the show that explores GTM stories from tech’s most innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Maggie Adhami-Boynton, CEO and Co-Founder of ShopThing, a live video commerce platform that pairs brands with influencers to host engaging live shopping events. The company has raised $10 million in funding to bring this rapidly growing trend from Asia to the North American market.

Key topics discussed in this episode:

  • Maggie’s background as a 15-year tech veteran, working in marketing, advertising, telecommunications, and mobile app development for major brands, while also pursuing her passion for fashion and retail as a micro-influencer.
  • The inspiration drawn from Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, who built a billion-dollar brand against all odds, with no funding or experience, while being generous and genuine with her employees and partners.
  • The influence of books like “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight and “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss, as well as numerous other startup stories that provide valuable lessons on what to do and what not to do as an entrepreneur.
  • ShopThing’s origin story, from Maggie’s frustrating experience trying to purchase a product through Instagram DMs to her discovery of the massive live video commerce trend in Asia, led by platforms like Taobao.
  • The unique challenges and opportunities of introducing live video commerce to the North American market, which has a different consumer behavior and technology adoption curve compared to Asia.

Actionable
Takeaways

Marry Your Passion with Your Vocation:

Maggie's journey to founding ShopThing began with her personal experience as a micro-influencer and her frustration with the limitations of existing platforms. By combining her expertise in technology with her passion for fashion and retail, she was able to identify a gap in the market and create a solution that resonated with both brands and consumers.

Learn from the Success Stories of Other Entrepreneurs:

As an avid reader of startup books, Maggie draws inspiration and practical lessons from the journeys of other founders, from the early struggles to the eventual triumphs. By studying these stories, entrepreneurs can gain valuable insights into the challenges they may face and the strategies they can employ to overcome them.

Adapt to the Unique Characteristics of Your Target Market:

While live video commerce has exploded in Asia, reaching $530 billion in sales, the North American market has its own distinct consumer behavior and technology adoption patterns. ShopThing has thoughtfully tailored its user experience and product offerings to cater to this audience, rather than simply replicating the Asian model.

Let the Market Guide Your Focus:

In building a three-sided marketplace, ShopThing initially struggled with the classic chicken-and-egg problem of balancing supply and demand. However, by allowing the market to organically dictate which side needed the most attention at any given time, the company was able to adapt its focus and resources accordingly, ensuring a healthy growth trajectory.

Envision a Future of Omnichannel Integration:

Maggie believes that the future of retail lies in the seamless integration of physical stores, e-commerce, and live video commerce. She envisions a world where every brick-and-mortar store has a dedicated studio for live streamers to create content, enabling a new generation of "live shopping gig workers" to emerge. By anticipating and shaping these trends, startups like ShopThing can position themselves at the forefront of the industry's evolution.

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