“Shoes, glorious shoes!” Oliver did not sing, but he had been a fashion conscious woman passionate about finding the perfect pair of shoes to match every outfit she owned… well then that would have been a very different musical. But it is the sort of music I could imagine playing every time someone opened SoSho, the self described ‘Tinder of shoes’. The free fashion app has just secured 70,000€ funding and its creators are ready to sing about it.
I could never have imagined a ‘Tinder for shoes’, but thinking about it, adapting Tinder’s simple mechanics for liking certain things and rejecting others certainly could be applied to anything. It doesn’t need to just be confined to the worlds of dating and hook ups. As a framework it could be adapted to almost anything that people are passionate about, and it might be a stereotype, but what gets more of an emotional response from women than shoes, other than chocolate perhaps.
Founders Teemu Kinos and Mika Kuisma, along with lead developer Mikko Malmari have developed the app which is currently available in the Finnish market. Users can choose from thousands of pairs of shoes and add the liked ones to their wish list and the rest will be discarded. They are confident that the more shoes users like the better their unique clustering algorithm will get at recommending relevant shoes that match each user’s taste.
Checking out the shoes in their wish list will allow users to view more details on the shoes, such as showing their price and a vendor from where they can be purchased. They are also giving the app some social features so that users can recommend shoes to their friends or ask for a second opinion, including a voting feature for which pair of shoes might suit their friend the best. In this post-NSA revelation world we now live in, they’ve also assured us that voting and recommendations are done privately, and that the information is not shared publicly. After all, you never know when the US Government will want to know what shoes you like to wear.
To help gain traction and create interest in the app amongst their target market they’ve brought in some top Finnish talent in the form of Marita Huurinainen, an award-winning Finnish designer. Her famous wooden shoe collection WAVE has apparently raised interest around the world and it has been displayed at the London Fashion Week and the Fashion week of Brooklyn this spring. Their other contributor is Ulla Hirvelä, a 27-year-old who loves high-quality shoes and Nordic design and is the creator of the lifestyle blog ‘Ullalaa’. Her blog features favorite outfits and foods, new fashion releases and postcard from her travels.
With the funding they have received they intend to develop the service further. They intend to include a feature to allow users to add their own shoes to the application by taking pictures of them. This would then facilitate a social marketplace where users could sell shoes to one another using the same interface as they would to purchase from a vendor.
By connecting with designers and fashion bloggers they plan to create more content for their website and generate more coverage for Finnish design shoes. They also plan get a stylist to design a matching outfit to go with the most popular shoes as selected by their users. This is also a developing plan and founder Teemu Kinos said, “We are currently looking for more partners – both from designers and bloggers. If you got interested and you love shoes, contact us.”
Building up that content should lead to higher traffic and organically grow their user base, but they will need to look beyond Finland sooner rather than later. Finland is an excellent testing ground to prototype your idea and see what sort of traction you get in a small, affluent and tech savvy population. Simple changes such as making their app and website available in English would be an easy start, and then matching their shoes to international vendors would allow them access to many more markets.
I’m sure this is all stuff they’ve already considered though, and we look forward to hearing more songs from them in the future should their service find its passionate audience amongst the likes of Pinterest and Instagram users.