1. Tell us about yourselves – education, your career backgrounds before starting Hukkster?
Katie worked in operations at American Eagle Outfitters upon graduation from Colgate University in 2005, before transitioning to J.Crew to work in apparel merchandising where she first met Erica. Eager to enhance her strategy and analytical skills, Katie left J.Crew to pursue an M.B.A in Corporate Finance and Strategy at Duke University. After graduation, she worked in management consulting with a focus on specialty retail at A.T. Kearney, where her path crossed again with Erica’s. When Katie is not working at Hukkster she is out and about at her favorite West Village neighborhood spots with friends or can be found sweating it out at Soul Cycle.
Erica began her career in San Francisco training with Gap Inc. in apparel production, planning and merchandising after graduating from Columbia University in 2006. Missing the energy of New York City, Erica had the opportunity to join J.Crew, sitting at a desk right next to Katie’s, where she worked as an apparel merchandiser for four years. In 2011, she transitioned to management consulting at A.T. Kearney to work, once again, alongside Katie (although on different projects and in different cities, Erica and Katie continued to work closely). When she is not scouring for the web for the latest trends in fashion and technology or hukking her top picks for the season, she loves to train for long distance races and try out new restaurants in NYC.
2. Give us basics on Hukkster. How does the site work, why is it different from other shopping sites out there, and how long have you been operating?
Hukkster is an online shopping platform that allows users to tag or hukk their favorite products across the web, using our bookmarklet or browser extension. When a product’s price drops or if a coupon code applies – users will receive an email or push notification. They can also view, organize, share and buy hukks anytime at www.hukkster.com or on the Hukkster iOS app. And we’re excited to announce that in the upcoming weeks we’ll be launching our new seamless payment platform as well as our new and improved iOS app!
How are we different? Hukkster allows users to choose their product down to the specific size and color. The user can also indicate a price threshold – on sale, 25% off or 50% off. And we aggregate all of the coupon codes that go unopened in our users’ inboxes, which accounts for the bulk of the sale alerts we send out to our audience.
We launched beta last summer and then our site went public on October 5, 2012, so we recently celebrated our 1st birthday!
3. How did the idea for Hukkster come about?
After leaving JCrew and making the move to consulting, we were both frustrated by the inefficiencies of shopping as ‘normal’ consumers. We would get to our inboxes at the end of a long work day and did not have time to sort through the hundreds of emails we received daily from online retailers. We would stumble across a great sale, two or three days after it had already passed. We were aware that this frustration resonated across our peer group. No one had the time to scour the web for the best deals on their favorite products, so we created a product to solve that problem!
4. It’s not easy to find a great business partner. How did you two meet?
We were very lucky that we met each other while we were merchandisers at J.Crew over seven years ago and then continued to work together at AT Kearney years later. We work extremely well together, each bringing different perspective to the business.
5. What has been the most exciting moment with Hukkster? And the most challenging?
When we hit the 100,000 user mark – it was a wonderful occasion for our team. Especially for those of us around at user #1. Our biggest challenge really comes down to prioritization. There are so many exciting opportunities at our fingertips but we’re still a small team and really need to stay focused on the top 3 highest priority items. Unlike our past lives in consulting or retail when we could just add headcount to tackle a problem, we have limited bandwidth and really have to focus our energy strategically to move the business forward as quickly and effectively as possible.
6. What is the most fun part about running your own business? What are the hardest parts?
The feedback we receive from our users is one of the best parts of the job. We recently received an email from a bride to be, gushing about how she saved hundreds of dollars on her wedding dress – to be apart of someone’s special day like that, it’s pretty cool! The hardest part would have to be building a team. We have an incredible team today but it was definitely an uphill battle to find the smart, passionate people to help build Hukkster from the ground up. It definitely takes a certain personality to thrive in the fast-paced startup environment and we’re lucky that we’ve been able to recruit a really talented team! It will definitely continue to be one of the biggest challenges.
7. With so many deal sites out there today, how do you think Hukkster and other sites like it are changing the way people shop?
Today, people don’t have to sacrifice style for price. Because of all the amazing deal sites, it’s possible for people to find the products they love, at the prices they want. I think as far as Hukkster is concerned, we’re not only bringing the sales to the people but bringing the people to the retailers whose daily sales often go unnoticed.
8. So have you totally abounded shopping in stores in favor of finding everything online, or do you still enjoy the real thing every once in a while?
There is no way to replace the emotion that you feel when you try on those perfect pair of jeans; however, if its not something we need to have in our closets that very day, we’ll often hukk it, consider it and buy when the time is right. Hukkster hopes to bring a new emotion to you – the feeling you get when those perfect jeans are on sale!
9. What’s next for Hukkster? What is your big picture dream for the site?
We have a few exciting new features that are coming out for the mobile app and desktop that we are really looking forward to launching. It will change the way people hukk! Our big picture is that Hukkster really becomes your everything shopping platform – from fashion to home goods to electronics and even grocery. We want Hukkster to be the go-to platform for shoppers to track and consider everything they buy online.