TORONTO – Have you ever spent hours trolling rumour sites looking for insight on when the next big tech gadget will be released? Or wasted time sifting through blogs in order to find out when your favourite artist will be releasing their next album?
Those looking to stay ahead of the curve can say goodbye to time wasted on the Internet with the help of Toronto-based startup HypeJar – a site designed to discover, track, and share consumer products that have not hit the market.
“Hype is something that’s out there – we all know it, but it’s really a driver of consumer behavior especially in today’s era of consumerism and newism,” said HypeJar co-founder and CEO Grant Yim.
“The future seems more relevant than the present in the sense that when the iPhone 5 comes out we’re already talking about iPhone 6.”
After becoming fascinated with trends in consumerism, Yim set out to create a business that could funnel this invisible matter called ‘hype’ into a container, in order to monitor what upcoming consumer products would have a big impact on the market.
The site, which mimics a social network environment, allows users to discover upcoming products including gadgets, video games, cars and books, to the latest in music, movies and TV shows.
Once on the site users can share their opinions about the products by hyping them up or down. Similar to Pinterest and pin boards, users can add things to their “jar” in order to get notified about new developments, photos, or articles about the product.
The site is designed to be image-based, allowing the user to easily find the products they may be searching for.
“We live in a Pinterest world – they are just one of the most successful sites in the world and I think one of the impacts that they’ve had is that they have made the Internet much more visual,” said Yim.
“People don’t want to read things anymore; they just want to see beautiful things.”
Yim conceived the idea in 2006, after embarking on a unique entrepreneurial experiment in order to make some extra money while he was in law school.
After reading press coverage about the Tickle-Me Elmo doll craze for the holiday season, Yim decided to buy a couple of the dolls at his local Toys-R-Us, then sold them on eBay for about five times the retail price.
“In the process what I wondered was – if you were able to quantify, or asses, the level of anticipation for products before they hit the market, it would be extremely valuable information for not only consumers but for all stakeholders involved,” said Yim, who noted this inspired him to think about creating a website.
Yim partnered with four friends (Won Jun Bae, Chief Operating Officer; Dylan Jude, Chief Technology Officer; and Mike Kwon Chief Strategy Officer) to work on the site.
Bae and Jude are the developers of the site, while Kwon takes care of analyzing and extracting the data the site produces, in order to devise new strategies for the site. The team recently welcomed two interns who help the team with social media.
Yim quit his job as a lawyer in international tech in January after working on HypeJar for over a year.
“The decision to put my law career on hold came naturally, because when you go to bed thinking about something and then wake up thinking about something every day of your life that’s a fairly strong idea of where you should go,” said Yim.
But hard work has paid off for the team.
Since launching the beta website in October 2012, HypeJar has garnered over 95,000 unique visitors and over 500,000 page views. There are currently about 3,000 moderators (regular users who have activated a HypeJar account using their email) on the site, who are able to curate and add products to different categories.
“193 countries are using the platform – which confirms our hypothesis that the topic of future products would have international appeal,” said Yim.
“Our goal with the (beta launch) was to provide a crowd-sourced platform – a place where the users would be the ones adding content. Since the launch we have seen over 700 products from the future be added by the users and as a result thousands of images, videos and news items.”
The site relies heavily on social media integration – users have the option to sign into HypeJar via Facebook to share their hyped products. According to Yim, a lot of traffic to the site has been produced by people talking about the site’s features on social networks.
The team is currently working on Twitter integration.
Yim says the next major milestone for HypeJar will be the ability to curate the information collected about products from the site in order to provide market intelligence.
He imagines being able to predict what the lineup will be like for the next iPhone, or what kind of sales a particular video game will generate.
“Traditional market research teams have always provided market intelligence, but we believe that they do a bad job and their data is very expensive,” said Yim.
We also want to make this data transparent – the demand level is something everyone should know, not just the Sonys, or the Universal Pictures, or the multi-million dollar ad agencies – we want everyone to know how much we’re anticipating the products.”
© 2013 Shaw Media