Brazilian e-commerce platform Listus stands apart as a gift registry site that reaches beyond weddings and bridal showers – it covers baby showers, housewarming parties and graduations as well. The most comprehensive platform of its kind in Brazil right now, it has joined the abundance of e-commerce companies in the country’s online marketplace.
Listus is the result of the work of three former globo.com employees, Rosana Reischak, Elton Okada and Pedro Putz. The idea behind Listus was the brainchild of Reischak herself, who tried to set up a gift registry for her housewarming party upon moving from her hometown to Rio de Janeiro years ago. She discovered that registries were only available for weddings at the time, and she eventually ended up setting a list for herself called Rosana and Rio, Rio (as in Rio de Janeiro) being listed as her fiancé’s name.
In November 2010, Reischak, Okada and Putz began working on the product concept and panning out the company’s basic business plan as well as its name, brand, functionalities and user experience. This preliminary work went on for over a year, the entire team continuing to work at their traditional jobs, until Reischak decided to dedicate herself full-time to Listus in October 2011. The following month, the startup entered Startup Farm and came in second place in its startup competition out of a group of roughly 20 companies.
Listus allows users to create gift registry lists across various brands and stores, and credit is interchangeable between retailers. Lists may be shared with friends and contacts via e-mail or even social networks. Once gifts are bought and confirmed, they are delivered straight to recipients.
Currently, the Listus platform features items from over 2,700 retailers and has approximately 2,000 users. The company earns commissions from recommended partner stores and retailers and also charges a small service fee for purchasers. Because its range of products and themes are so far reaching, it has an edge over similar sites, such as Casamentoclick and ListaPerfeita, which focus only on weddings.
Rosana Reischak of Listus spoke with us about the company, including its plans for investments, experience with acceleration and trajectory for the future.
Emily Stewart: You’ve received investments from Devise and Polaris. How did you go about the process of getting investments? What do you plan to do with the funds, and do you think you’ll seek more?
Rosana Reischak: We met both at the Startup Farm finals, and since then, we have been in talks regarding investment. We connected with them and their business vision most, out of all the other people we’ve talked to. The process was long and very challenging, and it took seven months to get the deal done. People have no idea what it takes in Brazil…
Luckily we managed to find a good deal for both parts and created a strategy that made all of us comfortable. We are expanding our approach and investing in new products that complement Listus as it is, and, of course, constantly improving what we already have. If we manage to reach our goals, the next funding round will probably be used to amplify the coverage area to other markets and to fortify the brand with more marketing.
ES: Listus came in second at Startup Farm in Rio de Janeiro. What was your experience there? What adjustments were made?
RR: There’s no doubt that it was our introduction to the market. From that day on we started to really live and breathe the startup world. When we got in, we were ready to launch the beta version, but we decided to delay. It was worth it. Although we had 10 years of experience in web development, we needed help on the business development side. Not just a nice product but a useful business that people would recognize as something that really dealt with their needs.
We managed to validate the model and, above all, better our abilities to pitch and to orient the right speech to the right people. Networking and constant validation were strong points. The intense month made us more prepared, articulated and flexible in dealing with the day-to-day situations that are common in startup life. It was a beautiful beginning of a long and intense journey that has loads of ups and downs but is incredibly rewarding.
ES: In what sectors are you strongest? In what sectors do you have the most room for growth? Do you notice some groups who are more comfortable with e-commerce and online payment than others?
RR: We think that one big advantage is the speed of our responsiveness, coming from a team used to deal with web development and online product vision. We have observed that the wedding market is not as bit of a deal as we thought and are orienting the platform towards many other kinds of gift themes. In doing so, we have discovered a new unexplored market with lots of potential. We also believe that the main technical difficulties we have come across are just opportunities to solve problems. This renders us a reference and leader in the business.
Users are still not very comfortable with new and unfamiliar interactions with respect to web products. We have to be aware of this and at the same time offer a sophisticated product. Due to our complex process, we have to manage simplicity and usefulness. There are still some people who are afraid to buy online. We know that in our case the main decision maker is the list owner. Regardless, we’ve tried to minimize the discomfort surrounding the use of an intermediate payment platform so that we can count on the know-how and security of such service providers in dealing with payments while at the same time maintaining transparency for users.
ES: What are your plans for the rest of the year and next? Would you consider going outside of Brazil?
RR: We’re planning to finish the development of a new product, which we’ll be launching in the next two months. We have lots of improvements to make with Listus and some big technology innovation on the backlog. We hope we can go abroad with Listus, but first we need to validate the right markets. We have to identify where else we find markets and behaviors similar to what we see in Brazil so that Listus can solve those markets’ specific problems with their own particularities.