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Mar 20, 2023

The Experify story: Our journey so far and what's next

The Experify story: Our journey so far and what's next

The Experify story: Our journey so far and what's next

By René Pfitzner

2022 was an exciting year at Experify. We more than doubled the size of our team, embraced a remote-first culture with incredible talent across 8 different countries, extended our footprint from 10 to 40+ clients worldwide, and launched a handful of new product innovations across our platform. 

We’re excited for what the future holds for this year and beyond, as we continue building the leading customer involvement platform. 

The brief history of Experify

Experify was founded 3.5 years ago by three entrepreneurs in Zurich who met at a startup event and had a simple idea of empowering bike enthusiasts to make more confident purchase decisions by providing them with an easy way to see and test products locally and in real life, before buying. 

This dream has captured the attention of many and has fueled our growth over the years. Since inception, we’ve raised millions of dollars in funding from Vertex Ventures, expanded our footprint in the high-end direct-to-consumer e-commerce market, and scaled our internal resourcing and capabilities.

We found that what started out as this simple idea, turned out to reveal a more fundamental gap in e-commerce: the frustration with the fake reviews epidemic, ever-decreasing user trust, and inauthentic influencers. Our mission at Experify is to provide an antidote to these challenges by providing brands with the software, tools, and knowledge to authentically involve their customers in their business. 

“There's currently no easy way for brands to connect genuinely with consumers,” said In Sik Rhee, General Partner, of Vertex Ventures. “Experify is pioneering the natural evolution of consumer marketing beyond user-generated content, giving brands a valuable opportunity to engage with their current and future customers, creating an entirely new market.”

Our impact

In 2022 alone, we saw a 4x increase in client adoption, as we penetrated deeper into the micro-mobility industry and beyond. We now have well over 40 e-commerce customers, a third of which sell mobility and fitness products. We’ve also expanded into other industries and verticals, including the smart home tech space, furniture, lifestyle goods, as well as family and accessibility products. For a full list, you can view our partners here.

As exciting as our growth has been, the impact hasn’t only been internal. The Experify platform has delivered over 20,000 conversions so far and we’re just getting started. Last year, we reached an average of 3 million shoppers every month and have more than 3,000 active product owners in our network who’ve facilitated thousands of invaluable, private 1:1 conversations.

In specific cases, we’ve seen returns we couldn’t even project. Over a 6-month period, Radon Bikes acquired 300 product owners onto their Experify network, and for another brand in the entertainment industry, their conversions skyrocketed 270% after implementing Experify.

These numbers illustrate that tapping into the simple element of social human connections does drive profound bottom-line impact and sales. Our data has shown that, on average, prospective customers who use Experify are 3x more likely to convert.

‍‍Our progress

One of our most notable product launches last year was the announcement of our self-serve brand dashboard, which allows our business partners to keep a constant pulse on their real-time analytics. Here, customers can view the development of their active product owner profiles, shopper reach, interactions, conversion rates, and most recently, manage and fulfill their reward orders all in one place. Access to this instant data allows brands to leverage Experify as a valuable insights channel to uncover unfolding trends and stay informed about their shoppers’ behavior, which is becoming ever more important in the days of iOS privacy challenges.

We’re also excited to be able to provide fully branded and flexible solutions for customers to integrate the Experify platform seamlessly onto their own website. We’ve launched multiple website widgets for brands to customize and embed on different pages throughout their customer journeys.

Our learnings

What’s been most exciting to learn and see over the years is the value add that both brands and shoppers gain from using Experify. What started as a primarily IRL-facilitating platform has transformed into a more scalable, virtual solution. Today, 86% of our customer and shopper interactions happen just over our native messaging feature, and many come just to browse and read real user stories. The value of delivering authentic social proof at scale, and at the point of purchase, is enough for many to make a purchase. 

Oftentimes, shoppers who reach out aren’t even looking for specific answers, but rather simply reassurance from others like them that they're making a good purchase. Shoppers are eager to connect with other people who share similar demographic or situational factors, even if the shared knowledge is the same information that’s widely available on any generic PDP.

For product owners, we don’t incentivize the platform with significant cash payments or kick-backs. Since these champions are already exhibiting this behavior for free, they jump at the opportunity to get more involved with their favorite brands and communities, and make a bigger impact. Our unique reward system results in nominal gifts like a branded keychain, add-on accessory item, or charity donation. We’ve learned that many of these customers dislike and shy away from traditional affiliate or influencer programs that offer similar ways to get involved, due to the inauthentic nature of being pigeon-holed as an additional salesperson. 

Across our shopper and product owner conversations, we’ve seen a 6-hour average response window and observed that many complete strangers who connect on our platform interact like old friends and often build quick, lasting relationships.

For direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands, competition has become increasingly stiff. It’s incredibly difficult for individual businesses to stand out, get their message heard, and get their products in front of people without investing in costly demos, expos, or conferences. We learned this challenge is well-understood in the market and business owners have been eagerly searching for solutions. They already want to invest in their customer communities and nurture those relationships at scale. 

In fact, some clients have even tried to implement an Experify-esque model on their own but faced major scalability issues. Founder and CEO Aaron Powell of Bunch Bike told us:

“I would actually reach out to a customer that had bought a bike in the last year in Denver and say, hey, we've got somebody that would like to meet up, would you be okay with, you know, letting them come by at the local park to test ride your bike, and 99% of the time the customers would say yes, they were really excited to do so… But it became kind of a bureaucratic nightmare on the back end to manage payments and activities and trying to scale that program.”

Looking ahead

We’ve seen tremendous traction and we’re excited to continue building and growing this year, as we develop a first-of-its-kind customer involvement platform that online businesses of all sizes and types can trust to involve their shoppers in authentic and relatable ways. 

We believe that the most successful brands will be the ones who understand the true power of their customers, and more importantly, the love their customers have for their products or services. And although this sounds like a truism, the reality is that the customer-business relationship is still very one-directional. 

Whereas every marketer today has been made to believe that community-based marketing is the holy grail, there’s just a few brands like Monster Energy and Harley Davidson who’ve managed to create a true connection with their community of customers. A connection that’s fueled by honest identification: customer identifying with their brands, and brands identifying with their customers. 

At Experify, our outlook of the world is inherently positive and social. We don’t believe in a Matrix-utopian future or metaverse shopping experience. We believe in the power of honest human connections and communities for everyone. A world where everyone belongs and where growing a business becomes an innately social endeavor; where “listen to your customers” isn’t just a product development mantra, but an actual reality. A world where your CLV doesn’t end at the checkout button. A world where it’s easy to make good, sustainable buying decisions, thanks to authentic and relevant information and the power of social connections. 

Over the next months and years we will extend Experify to become an entire ecosystem of products around this purpose of enabling honest customer involvement, that leverages an innate desire and human capacity to connect with others around common interests and experiences. We look forward to having you join us in our journey of revolutionizing the world of "social shopping" as we know it today.

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