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Scots pair seek US backing for social shopping network idea

SCOTTISH entrepreneurs are hoping to build a global social shopping network and are heading to the United States to sound out investors.

Nick Cohen, founder of Glasgow-based PC Repair and PCR Business, and Gavin Speirs, managing director of recruitment firm Solutions Driven, plan to spend time on the east and west coast of the US pitching their idea – called buywhatsliked – to potential backers at the end of this month.

A team of 11 developers from Dundeebased Appit, whose managing director Iain McLean is also involved in the buywhatsliked venture, are working on versions of an app for Android software and Apple mobile and tablet devices.
It is hoped a live version working in 48 languages will be in app stores by mid-February.

The company has already attracted thousands of users to its Facebook and Twitter pages and hopes to have a ready-made audience when it launches.

Users of the network will share their purchases and comment on what their friends have bought.

Mr Cohen said the idea is to build the scale of the user base by offering the apps for free.

He said: “We think it is the first true social shopping network. It is all about shopping and discussion of that rather than what you are having for dinner or where you are going out.

“We believe there is a space for this. There are other apps that deliver things like product-scanning, price comparison, product review and recommendations but not one network that delivers them all.”

The first investment in the business has come from the family and business networks of Mr Cohen and Mr Speirs.

However, the pair believe the business will need further funding before the summer, which is why they are travelling to New York and California to meet with technology investors and influential technology bloggers.

Mr Cohen cited the $1 billion purchase of photo sharing site Instagram by Facebook last year and said: “All the good private equity firms that invest in businesses like this are [in the United States].

“We have a few people interested in meeting us and will be firming that up ahead of the trip. We have a team of 11 full-time developers, which shows we are pretty serious about getting this out there, and we want to grow this to be a reasonable size. The next step is someone able to invest the right kind of money to allow myself and Gavin to take this as a full-time job as at the moment we are juggling it with our other commitments.

“To get buywhatsliked to a decent size it can’t be run as a hobby and we will need funding before the middle of the year if not sooner. We want to meet the investors and network so when the time comes we have some options.

“If you take the Instagram story, it had no monetisation but sold because of the value and the community. It would be nice to see an Instagram coming from Scotland.”

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