New High Alpha Business Provides Concierge Service to Online Shoppers
Indianapolis-based venture capital studio High Alpha has officially launched its latest company, a retail technology company called Humankind that provides concierge services to online shoppers.
The launch, announced on Tuesday, is High Alpha’s fourth launch this year and its 26the nowadays. Four other companies supported by High Alpha are operating in stealth mode as they have not yet been publicly launched.
Humankind’s founder and CEO is David Weissman of Los Angeles, whose 22 years of e-commerce experience includes time spent as an executive for the Target Corp retail chain. and as a consultant for brands such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Quicksilver, Beautycounter and Petsmart. .
Weissman operates Humankind as a remote company: Of the 10 employees he has hired so far, only one is based in Indianapolis, with others in the United States and other countries. He said he intended to continue hiring and could have 25 or 30 employees by the end of next year.
Humankind is a business-to-business software as a service company that empowers retailers to make personal connections with online shoppers. Weissman said the service is ideal for “any category of shopping where someone might need help,” such as shoes, clothing, skin care or wine.
Weissman said he has signed several clients before, including athletic shoe maker Saucony, TaylorMade Golf Co., The Wine Enthusiast Inc., REN Clean Skincare and others.
When a consumer accesses one of a Humankind customer’s websites, the consumer will be asked to complete a short survey about the type of products they are looking for. A product expert will then initiate a conversation with the consumer via text message and send them personalized product recommendations based on that conversation.
This text-based conversation can continue beyond the initial sale, Weissman said, which helps the retailer stay connected to the consumer and potentially make additional sales in the future. “With text messaging, you like to say ‘The line is always hot.'”
Prior to launching Humankind, Weissman had a skin care startup that used a similar type of janitorial service concept to sell products online directly to consumers. Customers loved the personal service, Weissman said, but he ended up shutting down the business because he ran out of money before he could grow the business.
“Selling direct to the consumer is very difficult for a young brand because acquiring customers is very difficult and expensive,” Weissman said. “It’s very difficult to do it profitably.
Weissman still saw promise in the online concierge model, so he decided to launch Humankind as a way to market the concept to business customers.
Weissman said he was looking for a venture capital partner who could help support his fledgling business and, through research, found High Alpha. Weissman had known the name of Scott Dorsey, Managing Partner of High Alpha, since Dorsey’s time at ExactTarget, and he was intrigued by what he learned about High Alpha.
After several phone calls, Weissman flew to Indianapolis last fall to meet in person with the leaders of High Alpha.
“We got along from the start,” he said.
Weissman said High Alpha had already offered Humankind two rounds of private equity to date, but he and High Alpha declined to disclose how much.
“Every e-commerce brand seeks high impact solutions to improve the customer experience,” said Kristian Andersen, partner of High Alpha, in a written statement. “Humankind is the first platform that truly puts the customer first and delivers the level of personalization and attention that today’s buyers increasingly demand. “