HIGHLINE portfolio company Wantering is the web’s fashion search engine, and aims to use big data and machine learning to create the world’s richest taste graph.
The startup connects shoppers with clothes they love from over 125 e-commerce sites, all in one place. To help customers shop for the hottest items first, they rank products in their search based on what’s trending on sites with strong social fashion communities like Pinterest, Polyvore, and Tumblr. Whether users are searching for a specific brand, browsing categories, or reading unique editorial points of view on what to wear and how to wear it, Wantering is the easiest and most elegant way to shop for fashion online.
About Wantering CEO, Matt Friesen
Matt Friesen is a serial entrepreneur, and current co-founder & CEO at Wantering. Previously, he founded Thirdi Software, which was acquired by Invoke Media, and co-founded JustTheBill. He’s a builder of ideas, teams, and businesses, and a “full-time dream chaser.”
Q&A With Matt Friesen
What was the moment you knew Wantering had legs / felt validated?
My co-founder Nick Molnar and I launched an MVP over the course of a single evening. We didn’t tell anyone, we didn’t market it, and we simulated the magic using our own human power — just to see if anyone cared. Turns out, they did! We had immediate growth and engagement, and we used that to recruit the founding team and raise our friends and family round.
How has your product evolved from MVP to now?
The original concept — “the Hype Machine for fashion” — is still a major component of Wantering, but what used to be the entire product is now used as the sorting algorithm for our search engine. The biggest change came 18 months ago when we realized shoppers didn’t need another pace to tell them what they should buy, but rather a place for them to ask where to buy the things they want.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Cross-border banking! Perhaps not the biggest, it’s certainly been a consistent pain over the past year. Funnelling money between countries, banks, and companies has been a complete nightmare — not to mention recent exchange rates. We have controls in place that require multiple founder sign-off, which means there are a lot of hours spent at the bank. There is a serious opportunity for a Canadian entrepreneur to package up a cross-border business play: banking, healthcare, payroll, taxes.
Was there ever a moment in your entrepreneurial journey when you felt you’d failed?
Too many to count. Entrepreneurs set lofty goals, and we often fall short, which feels like failure. It’s important to celebrate wins and milestones along the way to keep things in perspective.
What was the move to NYC like for you? How does it compare to Vancouver?
NYC runs at a different frequency than Vancouver. You can literally feel the energy in the air. We work out of the Fueled Collective in SOHO and we rub shoulders with other startups and entrepreneurs all day long. It’s given us incredible access to the startup community. Running a business that intersects fashion retail and media, NYC was a natural expansion for us. It was important for us to establish a strong presence so partners would take us seriously.
What’s it like running several remote offices (YVR, NYC, LA)?
Running three remote offices has been awesome! It’s under constant evolution as we work to improve communication and collaboration, while maintaining our culture across all three. Today we have weekly Google Hangouts with the entire company — one week is a Town Hall, and the next is product-focused. We have an amazing team and it’s been a lot of fun figuring out how to make it all work.