CoffeeTable brings best retail catalogs to iPad
Three years ago, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wooed Ben Choi away from Menlo Park's Storm Ventures to open the Silicon Valley office of Schultz's venture firm, Maveron. Schultz, via email, told this newspaper he was wowed by Choi's "terrific track record as a venture capitalist" and "stellar reputation."
But after years of bankrolling entrepreneurs, Choi felt the itch to get back into the game himself. He got a funding pitch last fall from CoffeeTable, which works with retailers to create online catalogs for the iPad. Choi liked the company so much, he signed up as chief executive (though he remains a part-time venture partner at Maveron).
San Francisco-based CoffeeTable has since landed more than 140 major retailers as clients, including Neiman Marcus and Crate & Barrel. And earlier this year, R.R. Donnelley, the biggest printer of retailer catalogs, bought an undisclosed piece of the startup for $2.5 million.
Choi discusses his wild ride and what comes next.
CoffeeTable is a free shopping app for the iPad that aggregates hundreds of retail catalogs to allow users to browse their products on the go, online or offline. CoffeeTable gives shoppers the ability to make purchases from their iPad through secure in-app checkout, while in turn giving retailers a suite of benchmark data and catalog analytics tools that they can use to boost their multi-channel marketing efforts.
Catalogs are collectively a $270 billion industry, and while individual retailers may offer their own tablet shopping apps, CoffeeTable brings them all together in one place, presumably offering a better shopping experience for the end user. Together, the two companies seem to be looking to establish an Amazon for retail catalogs, and with further development of analytics tools, retailers will be able to get a better sense of the mobile purchasing behavior of consumers, something many of them are lacking.
SOURCE: MercuryNews.com, CrunchBase.com