Thursday Jul 26, 2012 by Brendan Lynch - Contributor, VentureFizz
Michael Sheeley, just four months after leaving RunKeeper, where he was a co-founder, has launched a new startup called Kickscout, a mobile shopping and peer-to-peer payments app that helps shoppers buy products for their friends.
Sheeley likened Kickscout to "Pinterest plus location," and said he sees the service as a way to bridge the gap between isolated activities like shopping, and social activities.
"In my mind, I envision this crowd, your social network, behind you," he said.
If you're in a store and see something you know a friend would want, you can send the friend a photo. If your friend is quick enough, they can send money your way to make the purchase -- and something extra for a "tip." Sheeley is looking to add to a crop of a "couple of hundred" beta testers for the service. You can sign up by clicking here.
Sheeley had the core concept of Kickscout in his head when he left RunKeeper, but spent a month trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He was approached by a health startup which wanted to hire him as CEO -- but it already had three or four employees.
"Too big," he said.
Eager to get in on ground floor of a startup, Sheeley saw his opportunity in eCommerce. He's also excited to get feedback from users, who he said will ultimately define the product.
"Once a company gets big, it's hard to do that," he said.
Last month, Punchbowl CEO Matt Douglas told me he wouldn't trade his thriving, maturing company for a return to his startup days. Sheeley paraphrased Douglas to put their differing viewpoints into sharp relief.
"Yes fucking way, and you can print that in bold," he said, laughing.
Sheeley's running the bootstrapped startup as a one-man band with a part-time developer from his home in Chelmsford.
"I'm back in the coffee shop," he said. "I get bored, so I go from Starbucks to Starbucks, sometimes I work from home. The Java Room is pretty good."
The smartphone app delivery mechanism, combined with the marketing platform created by social media have created what Sheeley sees as the biggest business opportunity of his lifetime.
"It's a land grab to figure out what problems need to be solved, and create products to solve them," he said.
For now, Kickscout is taking 30 cents per transaction -- "just enough to pay the bills." But in the long run, Sheeley thinks P2P transactions will be free, with the value proposition being capturing the intent of shoppers for other revenue streams like lead-generation.
"I'll worry about revenue later," he said.
So far, the Kickscout seems to be the only startup working on shopping for others.
"I haven't seen anyone else doing it, which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing," Sheeley said.