With 300% traffic growth, Tapiture raises $825,000 and teases ecommerce rollout

By Michael Carney , written on February 5, 2013

From The News Desk

In December we revealed a $450,000 partial funding round by “Pinterest for dudes” social discovery startup Tapiture. At the time, the company’s founders promised “much, much more impressive news to announce in January.” Well the missed the deadline by a matter of days, but today, the company followed through with nearly double the cash raised, balooning traffic, and a significant product update.

Tapiture’s seed round has swelled to $825,000 from undisclosed private angel investors, with $125,000 of it coming through in the last 24 hours. It’s a noteworthy endorsement for a category that many have viewed with skepticism.

The Los Angeles startup created by founders Leo and John Resig turned in surprisingly healthy growth metrics in the fourth quarter, recording 78 million page views across 8.6 million user visits by 4.1 million unique visitors, with engagement levels of nearly seven minutes per visit. These numbers are up from just 26 million page views and 1.5 million unique visitors across the site’s first six weeks post-launch.

The newly rebranded site now features Facebook social graph integration, and more than two thirds of all users now sign up using the social login option. The overall branding and aesthetic were refreshed as well, taking a more simple and refined tone.

Tapiture is an image curation site, along the lines of Pinterest, dedicated to guy-tastic categories like babes, cars, apparel, gadgets, and luxury destinations. Unlike its more female oriented, design-laden, and exponentially larger counterpart, the LA startup is heavily focused on commerce, even in its early stage.

The company’s monetization efforts currently take the form of affiliate links interspersed throughout the content feed – and clearly delineated by price tag images. These third-party links will soon be replaced by native e-commerce listings, says CEO John ellis.

The site will also allow marketers to host “branded experiences” targeting Tapiture’s highly targeted community of what it optimistically calls “purchase-ready male consumers.” The company is already fielding inbound interest from both brands and product vendors that have worked closely with the Chive team and those who have yet to be accepted to either platform.

“Tapiture is addressing an incredible opportunity to solve the top end problem of the sales funnel, the discovery process, by leveraging the social and interest graph of our engaged community of users,” Ellis says.

In addition to launching its e-commerce features, Ellis’ team is working on a mobile app that’s due to launch in a matter of weeks.

Tapiture currently has seven employees – a number it plans to double in the next six months – who currently focus primarily on product and community management. Although the company shares beachfront office space with theChive, its employees are distinct. With the infusion of capital, the three month old startup plans add a team of Tastemakers, or retail buyers, to its ranks, as well as bolster its product and engineering teams, according to the company’s CEO.

Despite the compelling early results, most outside observers remain bearish on the prospects of a niche content discovery site – not the least of which are the bulk of my PandoDaily colleagues. The category features several other contenders like Dudepins, Manteresting, and Gentlemint, all of which have had a hard time reaching critical mass. And far too many other "X for Y," me too products have failed to deliver for many to take the re-appropriation model seriously.

That Tapiture can drive traffic from its sister site theChive partially explains the fact that its December traffic exceeded that of all other direct competitors combined, according to the company's figures. Another explanation is that the Resigs and Ellis understand what the socially connected, affluent, post-graduate male audience wants.

Tapiture hopes it can turn this market expertise into a cash cow in the coming quarters. If nothing else, it is sure to turn up plenty of pics of scantily clad babes and overpriced watches.