Pinterest Faces New High-End Rival – The Fancy

Pinterest was recently named the 3rd largest social network in the US, and with around 11 million users it’s not hard to see why. The user friendly photo sharing platform appeals to the majority of social networkers and has carved out a formidable name for itself. Recently however, there arrived another player on the Social Photo Sharing scene – The Fancy. With just 250,000 users it pales in comparison to its older, more established rival, but the New York-based startup has a few serious competitive advantages.

Follow your Fancy

The Fancy is a platform that allows you to “Fancy” items you have seen on other websites and share with fellow members. You copy the items image and post it onto your news feed under a selected category with a brief description. If other users like what you are posting they can decide to “follow” you.  As more and more users start following you based on the items you have posted, there is a reward in the shape of an honorary title, such as “Editor” or “Art Director” . These titles distinguish you as someone with good taste, a keen eye and well worth a follow.

Fashion Financing

What makes The Fancy more credible as a competitor is that on August 2011 it secured a $10 million round of financing at a valuation of $100 million from lead investor Pinault Printemps Redoute, the $16 billion French multi-national that owns some of the world’s biggest fashion brands, including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga. PPR is not your typical venture investor, but The Fancy is about visual discovery and has become a natural home for fashion brands that see a high level of engagement from tastemakers around their goods. PPR has earned a reputation for its smart, aggressive acquisition strategy and saw its stock jump after an impressive third quarter, they can obviously see something in The Fancy that could work well for them.

Marketing Potential

“With these communities forming around experiences and products, our dream for the company is to have merchants and brands come in, and bid to fill that demand using our self-service tools,” says founder Joseph Einhorn. “They can say, ‘Okay, there’s a lot of interest in this hotel destination or these sunglasses or this watch–I’m going to offer to sell my product or something competitive right in on this page.”

Members of The Fancy can choose to take someone up on a recommendation, they also might soon start seeing a “sell” button that allows them to quickly sign up for a merchant account, create product listings in those communities and decide how much to sell the product for. They can choose price restrictions, set up group deals and monitor transactions all from The Fancy’s straightforward user interface. The Fancy has already struck 400 brand partnerships, and sold 150,000 deals to consumers through the service, this suggests there is the need for an on-site commerce platform on The Fancy.

“When people let you know about a product or a hotel room, then you know about the person it matters to, and that starts to trickle down to other people.”

People make purchasing decisions based on reviews and suggestions, The Fancy could be opening up the door to a new, self run social network based business.

Your move Pinterest.