The UpTake: Imagine going through your startup pitch 40 times for potential investors, without a penny to show for it. Deena Varshavskaya, whose addictive shopping app Wanelo stands for “want, need, love,” doesn’t have to, but rejection didn’t stop her from building an immensely popular shopping experience.
by Teresa Novellino –
W anelo founder Deena Varshavskaya has gotten a lot of cold shoulders from investors, but that hasn’t stopped her.
Two years ago, using her own money, she launched mobile shopping app and website Wanelo — a word that stands for “want,” “need,” and “love” — which aims to make shopping social. It’s now the fastest growing social network dedicated to shopping, with 11 million mostly young women posting favorite items to Wanelo’s app or website. Without selling a thing, the San Francisco-based startup gets affiliate fees as a platform for 14 million products in 350,000 stores.
Sounds like easy money but investors must either not have bought the concept or the Siberian native behind it.
“When I went out to raise funding, it took more than 40 rejections to even close my very first seed round,” Varshavskaya told CBSNews.com Monday. “It was hard, for sure, but that’s part of what I really love about what I do, is that the start-up essentially is my foundation for personal growth, and I absolutely love that I’m being pushed to the limit.”
Wanelo recently announced a deal with Nordstrom, which is putting Wanelo content in 117 of its stores where it will be featured on screens in the junior’s sections.
It’s now got $14 million in venture capital backing, including an $11 million round last March from undisclosed investors.
After getting an MA in journalism from Syracuse University, Teresa worked as a general assignment newspaper reporter—general on purpose because besides the usual city hall and police articles, there was the chance to fly an F-18 with the Blue Angels and tag along with bounty hunters on a stakeout—all good preparation for covering entrepreneurs.