The former leaders of EvoApp are moving on swiftly.
The news is out that 23-year-old Joe Davy, the co-founder and chief product officer of EvoApp, is already back within less than two months after the startup shut down. (EvoApp former CEO Kip Frey, one of the more well-known dealmakers in the Triangle, is also apparently on to 8 Rivers Capital in Durham. It already has 12 employees, four of whom, including Joe, are from EvoApp. The others are Alexey Melnichenko, co-founder of EvoApp, and Andy Linteau and Ed Elliott, the former lead engineers.
The idea is from Ted Kraus, a principal of 8 Rivers and the new company’s chief operating officer. The software is currently in Alpha testing, and is planned to go Beta on Oct. 15. (Check them out here.)
What does Buystand do? In a nutshell: “When retailers have to wait to mark things down, they lose sales,” Joe said. “This lets people sell goods today, for prices above what they sell in three months.”
Joe shared his perspective on where he wants to take Buystand, and lessons learned from EvoApp.
Tell me about the idea behind Buystand. Does it bear any relation to what EvoApp did (social media analytics)?
The solution is very different from EvoApp, but working at EvoApp, I got this incredible opportunity to talk with the CMOs and heads of marketing for many of the largest consumer products in the world. And talking with these people, they would say (about EvoApp), “Yeah, this is very relevant. But this is one degree removed from what actually makes us money. We’re still getting killed with pricing issues that come up over and over. How do we understand better how to price goods?” What Buystand does is it gives retailers an immediate view of how people evaluate the price. At any time, a retailer can see how customers are evaluating the value of the product. They can use that information to enhance all of the aspects of their business. In the sense of how it relates to EvoApp, it’s a very different fundamental problem, but it’s still a data company.
The retailers we have relationships with right now are all Top 500 retailers. Brian Martin, chairman of Brand Connections, one of the largest advertisers for active lifestyle, is on our board of advisors. And Joe DeSimone, head of the Kenan-Institute.
Where do you want to take Buystand? What is the vision?
When we started talking about this problem, we realized that seller-driven pricing is the only form of pricing that has existed in the past 300 years in the U.S. We realized there are a lot of ways to fix that in a lot of segments. We’re focused on active lifestyle products. Their goods go out of season a lot faster than normal goods. But we think this has application in consumer electronics, in apparel — the list goes on and on. It’s a huge, huge opportunity. Globally, electronic commerce is a trillion-dollar industry. The opportunity to innovate in that business is massive.
EvoApp’s growth and failure � that was all very public.
Oh, you heard about that? (chuckles)
Well, you know, there was some news on that… We’ve all heard from Kip Frey on what happened. From your perspective, what went wrong?
I had a very phenomenal opportunity at EvoApp to work with the best leaders in the world. The people on our executive team and on our board were all really top quality people. At the end of the day, everyone has their own specific perspective on what the problems were. The simple answer is: We ran out of money. And we weren’t able to solve that problem in time. I’m a believer that in order to take responsibility for your success, you have to take responsibility for your failures. I think we had a lot of great successes, and I was glad to be a part of that. This was a big failure moment, and I’m glad to say I was a part of that too, although it was very painful.
What did you learn from the success, and the failure?
It gave me a top quality education. Most of the people I was interacting with, and still am interacting with, are people who are at the top of the industry. That was a really great opportunity. So, I think just simple things like management and leadership are obvious, but I think there are much more subtle things, like understanding how to build a team, how to solve problems, and how to build strategy.
What do you want to do differently this time?
Not run out of money.
Are you raising money?
I can’t comment specifically on any plans. But I would say that many companies at this stage do go out and raise money. I think this is a big opportunity, so we’ll be finding ways to properly capitalize it.
How did this opportunity come about, not only for you but for the other former members of EvoApp?
Starting in January. I’ve been friends with Bill Brown for a long time, one of the founding members of 8 Rivers. I was taking his law school class at Duke, and it helped me develop a deeper relationship with him. I started coming in to help out with some companies at 8 Rivers, as a favor for the law school class. I wanted EvoApp to be able to raise money and be successful. On the very last day, when Kip brought everyone together and said, “Guys, unfortunately, we have to lay a lot of people off,” I was able to talk with a lot of people. Tech talent is one of the lacking resources in our community, so I was lucky to be able to bring some of the people from EvoApp with me. I value the faith they have in me.