While a "pond," Wishpond is making more than ripples; it's making waves. Which is why we're proud that the popular service is based out of Vancouver. Its CEO, Ali Tajsekandar, is also a Vancouverite, having attended post-secondary at both Simon Fraser University for computing science and the University of British Columbia for business management.
After working positions like web developer, software developer, and program analyst, Ali ignited his entrepreneurial spirit in 2009 and founded Wishpond.
What is Wishpond?
"Wishpond is a local shopping platform which connects online consumers with local merchants through web, mobile, social media and Wishpond Partner platforms," Ali explains. "Shoppers can use Wishpond to find products from nearby retailers, compare prices, and go to the closest store to buy them. Shoppers can even create “wishes” on products they would like to receive better offers on."
As for merchants, they "can leverage Wishpond as an online advertising and social media gateway to promote their products. Wishpond also gives merchants an instant presence on Facebook, Google, Wishpond.com and mobile platforms – helping to send foot traffic directly to their stores." Ali notes that Wishpond currently has "more than five million products in over 100,000 locations across North America."
What sparked the idea for Wishpond?
"The genesis of the idea came from seeing my mom run her own small business for years and her challenges using the traditional advertising mediums (e.g. flyers)," Ali explains. "I saw the need to help small businesses find a way to market themselves more effectively online – Facebook, Google – as well as on mobile devices as we are increasingly becoming a mobile society."
What is your vision for the future of Wishpond?
"Our vision is to have all products from all local retailers accessible to online shoppers," he says. "Also, we would like Wishpond to be the number one marketing choice for all local retailers."
Their top priority, Ali tells me, is to help local businesses increase revenue by driving customers in-store. "By using online marketing strategies leveraging our publisher partners, Facebook, and Google, we help merchants increase their visibility among local customers," he says. "You will see some exciting initiatives in the coming months that will help local retailers better market their products and also make the shopping experience more interesting for consumers."
Any obstacles or challenges?
"Building a scalable local product search platform is not a simple undertaking," Ali affirms. "One of our challenges has been building a scalable and robust platform that can ingest product data from a variety of different sources with different data formats and build a uniform database of product information that can be consumed by our users." But, he adds, "the good news is that we have taken the time to build a solid, scalable platform that is trustworthy and capable of supporting our clients businesses."
Ali observes that "the market for local commerce technology is booming," and that Wishpond is "on the bleeding edge of this." He points out how Groupon, Living Social and others have done a great job at helping people understand the value of local commerce – "but the majority of small and medium businesses are left in the dark." Through Wishpond, he says, "we’re giving local businesses a simple and easy way to take advantage of this trend as an integral and ongoing part of their business."