Most of its 500,000 users would say, “it’s about time.” The one-year-old site, which offers an endless side-to-side scroll of giant, beautiful food photos with minimal text and features, feels very much like a tablet site translated to the web. At Gojee.com, you use arrow keys to quickly slide through tantalizing images of butter coconut macaroons and tamarind chicken wings. But you instictively want to swipe through them. That’s no accident: Even though, until today, Gojee has only been accessible via web browser and navigated by mouse and keyboard, the site was specifically built for the “touchable web.”
Soon Gojee will take its visually striking “touchable web” platform to categories beyond food and beverage. Judging by the portraits in its spacious Chinatown office (and some heavy hints from CEO Michael Lavalle) that direction is apparel.
The company will likely start with lingerie, a category more closely resembling actual porn, in the fall. It will work its way into home decor, shoes and apparel. Gojee wants to be a better discovery engine, in categories aimed mostly at women. It’s a swipe-able Pinterest, and it’s amassed its following with zero social features, zero marketing beyond word-of-mouth, and near-zero mobile presence.
There is one key difference between Gojee and Pinterest beyond swipe-ability. Gojee’s images and recipes are curated–not user-generated. That’s why Gojee can afford to risk it all on one gigantic image instead of Pinterest’s hundreds at a time. They all look good. Pinterest needs to show you more because, as with any user-generated content, there is no quality control, and users have to quickly scan over much more irrelevant crap to find the good stuff. Now Gojee is moving into Pinterest’s next-most-popular categories.
I want to hate the concept of Gojee–I rarely cook, don’t really enjoy Pinterest, and have heard one too many pitches from “curated discovery platforms.” (I am publishing this from an event called The Curators Conference for God’s sake.) And yet! I can not stop mindlessly scrolling. It is delightful enough to inspire me to bookmark recipes and make vague plans to try them. And then I turn my screen to share the amazingly delicious appearance of every tenth dish or so to others in the room, akin to an analog repin on Pinterest.
Perhaps I do that because there is no “repin,” or “reblog” or “retweet” option on Gojee. You can save, but you can’t easily share. The company has been slow to clutter its purposely minimalist appearance.
It’s part of Lavalle’s macro-believe that all new web sites should be designed for swiping and touching, not pointing and clicking. Even the browsable web will be more touch-friendly in two to three years, he predicts. Around 20 percent of Gojee’s users return regularly. The company hopes that that percentage and total user count will increase as it very slowly, very cautiously rolls out more functionality and new categories.
It will eventually court users more formally with social and sharing features. That, and lingerie.
Gojee has raised $4 million from Interwest Partners and Kapor Capital.