The Hunt, a social shopping service with a user base that’s 90 percent female and has an average age of 21, just got some venture capital endorsement.
The Hunt does user-generated product search. Members post images of products they would like to buy, and other users help them hunt down where they are sold. About half of hunts get “solved” within 24 hours.
This isn’t a huge draw yet — it has about 500,000 monthly unique visitors — but after The Hunt launched its iPhone app last fall, 95 percent of users now use the company’s app, and a good portion of users are showing up for at least an hour a week.
That quick growth spurt drove Khosla Ventures to lead a $10 million round Series B round in the startup, following a $5.5 million Series A round announced last fall.
The immediate uses for the funding will be hiring and developing an Android app, said The Hunt co-founder and CEO Tim Weingarten, who’s not a teenage girl himself but does call himself “an avid shopper.”
There are tons and tons of social shopping startups. Versus alternatives like Pinterest and Wanelo, Weingarten says you could think of The Hunt as sort of a visual Q&A site — where the question is a photo, and the answer is where the depicted product is sold.
“Rather than harnessing supply, we’re harnessing demand,” Weingarten said. “We’re pull-based, and those systems are push-based.”
Fittingly, Khosla partner Ben Ling, who is joining The Hunt’s board, previously worked on Google Image Search.
While The Hunt isn’t trying to make money yet, Weingarten said he believes this kind of product search already has higher conversion rates — that is, it’s more effective at inspiring people to buy stuff — than the social curation sites.