Blidz, a Pinduoduo clone in Europe, raises $6.6 million to expand its social shopping app TechCrunch

Today, games and social networks have become the cornerstones of every category of consumer applications, and today one of the applications that are using these to build a new e-commerce platform is Europe. is announcing a seed round to boost its growth. Blidz – a social shopping app that offers great discounts (many items in categories like jewelry, clothing and gadgets sell for as little as $0.99 on it) on number-based goods volume of people are coming together to buy them and then introduce users to a bunch of games above all to unlock more deals – that has brought in 6 million euros ($6.6 million at today’s rates) ) in a funding round after seeing its initial growth hit 50,000 monthly users.

General Catalyst — one of a group of non-US VCs that has increasingly focused on supporting startups out of Europe in recent years — and European VC Peak are co-leading the round, with D4 Joint Venture, Fabric joint venture, FJ Labs and previous supporters IPR.VC also joins a number of individuals: Youngme Moon (Harvard professor who focuses on the digital economy), Christopher North (formerly a longtime Amazon executive, now mostly an investor) and Don Hoang (former CEO) Uber and Revout).

If you are au fait to the world of social media shopping, and the description of Blidz may sound a bit familiar to you, probably because it is largely a copy, namely Pinduoduohugely successful gambling social shopping app in China, which CEO Lasse Diercks, who co-founded Blidz with Markus Haverinen (CPTO), cites as a direct inspiration.

“We saw the Pinduoduo trend, learned how the model worked, built it and brought it to market over a year ago,” he told me practically in an interview today. prior to.

Pinduoduo’s fortunes and challenges are relationships worth pondering when thinking about Blidz: the Chinese platform now has a market capitalization of nearly $60 billion (it’s listed on Nasdaq in the US), and nearly 870 million active buyers – although growth has been slowing recently due to more competition and weaker performance in the overall Chinese economy. That says a lot of potential for Blidz, but there are also some similar long-term growth problems.

However, long-term challenges seem a bit too far-fetched right now for a startup that’s only a year old. Like Colin Huang, founder of Pinduoduo, Diercks told me he saw an opportunity to offer another product to the market beyond Amazon’s dominance not only but Amazon’s approach to the brand. e-commerce that has essentially been duplicated by other marketplace platforms (built for scale with a large number of SKUs, optimized around personalization, search, and advertising for product display potential buyers, improving margins by offering your own products alongside these and/or other logistics economies of scale).

“Our vision is to liberate Western consumers,” says Diercks. “We want to give Western consumers a better and less expensive shopping experience.”

In his view, that proposal was handled in two ways. First, it’s about the user interface experience. Using gamification (there are currently four games on Blidz and more coming soon), Blidz also utilizes social relationships (share your deals on timeline and message friends and groups!) respectively to attract users, make them create their own network effect by recommending products to people they know via other social channels and let people win purchase by how to see how many other people buy them and the price will go down as a result.

(It’s also actually a trick used in the pre-internet era, initially pioneered by live TV shows about home shopping, where people phoned in to make a purchase.)

The second is the choice that Blidz, like Pinduoduo before it, is making of accepting much lower sales in exchange for more sales.

Translating that to today’s internet landscape in regions like Europe and the US is unquestionable as the market has so little diversity right now.

“Sixty percent of e-commerce in Europe today is dominated by Amazon, and then a bunch of other companies like it. We think there is a monopoly in price manipulation,” he said. “Ultimately, that’s the company’s vision, to give Western consumers a better and less expensive shopping experience.”

He believes the solution is to accept a much smaller profit margin on the goods sold and simply sell more to make a difference and then some. China’s Pinduoduo, he said, sometimes offers just 0.5% off a sale. “This is a 60-fold difference from the Wish example.”

China is playing another important role for the company beyond being the birthplace of Blidz’s inspiration: it is also a key country in the supply chain of goods sold on Blidz. That’s commercial reality for you: although there are certainly signs that some startups are building business models to further nurture produce and produce goods closer to the people who are buyingChina remains an important supplier to the broader consumer market and will be for a long time to come.

“We are building a supply chain in China, where we have a team of former Wish members. They are building this for us,” said Diercks. This is not to buy cheap goods, but to exploit a newer generation of products produced by the country’s factories that are of good quality and sometimes better than the usual products. They then buy these in bulk, following a concept he describes as “quality versus price.”

“We don’t want to work with every supplier. We like to work with a select few,” he said. And supply constraints appear to be giving Blidz better bargaining power, he said. “They are waiting to board the train. The ultimate vision is to be the Shein of this space,” he added, referring to Chinese fashion sense leveraged its own direct relationships with clothing and accessory manufacturers to source higher quality, and then sold those goods directly to consumers themselves.

The social shopping space is dotted with so many businesses that seem like rocket ships, only to assemble their engines before reaching their long-term, stratospheric orbit. Diercks doesn’t believe Pinduoduo, and now Blidz, can compare to these. “We don’t believe that Groupon or LivingSocial were ever truly so social, because they never really leveraged people’s own social graphs in their approach to selling,” he said. They’re also more focused on experiences than on products in their DNA, even though Groupon’s merchandise business has changed that somewhat recently.

The potential here is to build that model for more markets, and to be able to pick out more localized variations along the way and pick out what looks like a loyal user base to date, enough to sell the idea to top investors willing to take a game of chess on it.

The Blidz founding team has some unique insights related to the growth of online commerce,” Adam Valkin, MD of General Catalyst, said in a statement. They are creating a new customer experience in the West by combining social media, gaming and shopping into one easy-to-use and data-driven entertainment platform. We’re excited to see what emerges from this talented team. ”

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