I did an interview this week with Janne Waltonen, VP Marketing and Communications at Fruugo. It has previously been unclear what to call Fruugo. It is not a webstore since they don’t own any products, legally you cannot call the company a webstore aggregator either, and it is not a not a search engine. During the interview we solved the dilemma and coined a name for this new player in e-commerce.
Waltonen demoed the actual beta service and walked me through where Fruugo is currently regarding the number of products and number of merchants, but did not give me an exact date when the service is to launch to the public. I also asked whether Fruugo will have an open API for developers to tap into. This might sound like a trivial question, but could have big effect for the local developer scene and give an indication of the policy the company takes in embracing the entrepreneurial culture. Creating a platform to innovate on the back of what is potentially a very large e-commerce player can lift many boats. This is something we have not yet seen in Finland: If Nokia has not been completely stone walling the local startups, it certainly could do more for them (although there are a few positive individuals who have been supportive), instead of threatening to move out of the country, which is the latest row regarding the mobile giant. After meeting the high spirited people at Fruugo I am very hopeful.
Whatever people make of Fruugo’s and Boo.com’s similarities and the rumors circulating around the company, this week I saw a healthy service (albeit still very much in its infancy) that has a good shot to become a major player in the e-commerce landscape. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know how the deal will eventually go down with the large number of merchants, customers or whether all the logistical and regulatory bottle necks can be solved when pulling the patchwork of EU 27 together into a solid buying experience. But there’s always unanswered questions and challenges when doing something new and as Waltonen told me a few weeks ago about the rumors: “dogs bark, but the caravan goes on”. And so it seems to do.