Gojee launches home vertical, prepares designer marketplace

By Erin Griffith , written on February 25, 2013

From The News Desk

When New York startup Gojee launched its beautiful "inspiration platform" for recipes in September, I remember thinking, "This is great, but can't be monetized." The full-screen, high quality images of food don't exactly lend themselves to banner ads, and I don't see a robust affiliate linking business from amateur food blogs, where Gojee gets its recipes. People don't buy recipes, and if they buy food, it's not going to be online.

However, there was a master plan behind Gojee, it turns out. When the company launched apparel and lingerie verticals in the subsequent months, it became a little more clear -- the site could make a decent living on affiliate links in the same way many catalogue and bookmarking apps like Pickie or WantWorthy do.

The site's big, luxurious displays worked: Users (majority women) are clicking through, and they're buying. The average ticket for Gojee-driven purchases is $300, says CEO Michael Lavalle. It's very mobile-driven -- the site's mobile clickthrough rate is over three percent and a third of purchases driven by Gojee are on mobile.

Gojee has more than half a million sign-ups, Lavalle says (which same figure as in September); between 20 and 30 percent of them engage each month. The majority of engagement happens around the lingerie, dresses, and shoes. There are no plans to monetize the food section of the site (which happens to be my favorite part).

This week the site launches a new, and most importantly, monetizable vertical, home goods. It also begins work on phase two: a full-on marketplace.

Phase two is essentially a publisher platform that Lavalle calls an "Etsy for fashion." Independent designers can use the platform as a dashboard to sell their items directly on Gojee. It's high-end and Lavalle's team hand-picks the designers to keep quality high. Thus far 30 designers live on the site, Lavalle says. Building a marketplace is not simple, but with $4 million in Interwest Partners and Kapor Capital, Gojee has time to go slow and get it right.