Montreal-based startup NeekNaak has launched its members-only online market place for curated gadgets and innovative products. Think of it as an online store for every useful product that appeared on Dragons’ Den or Kickstarter.
Founder and serial entrepreneur Clement Kpodar started the website in 2010 when it was formerly known as Tupti.ca. For several years he had been purchasing or promoting innovative “Kickstarter winners," acting as an ambassador for these little known yet valuable products.
“I have a passion for well-crafted, innovative and awesome products and NeekNaak is a way to put my ideas into work,” Kpodar told Techvibes. “With the increased appetite for curated goods in Canada we want to help people finding and acquiring these type of products.”
Not every gem that appears on crowdfunding sites gains exposure, and this could represent some of the appeal of a platform like NeekNaak. To date nearly 10,000 projects on Kickstarter never received a single pledge (or 11 per cent of all projects).
On the flip side, some products featured on the site can gain the exposure needed for deserved success. Take the Cosmonaut, 2011’s most popular Kickstarter product, a wide-grip stylus for touch screens that raised $134,236 from 6,192 backers.
NeekNaak currently features such products as “The Oona," a simple smartphone mount that sticks to anywhere in the house or car, or “The SlingShot," an affordable, easy-to-use handheld smartphone video stabilizer for shooting video or stills. Other product categories include home and living, eco-friendly, kids, kitchen and fitness & sport.
Kpodar and cofounder Komi Sodoke either purchase the products from designers or take a 30 to 40 per cent cut on sales. Membership is free, sales last 96 hours and the site offers rebates of up to 70 per cent. Every day new hand-picked deals are featured in different categories.
“We discuss directly with suppliers and designers to give our users insider access to exclusive shopping opportunities,” said Kpodar. “Although there are big players in this niche, NeekNaak intends to offer more by focusing on products made by small brands and local creators.”
Kpodar has an additional 100 brands waiting to have their products listed and the startup wants to integrate a Pinterest-like photo board where users can recommend brands and share products. Other goals include getting the team up to ten employees and being present in the American market by the end of 2014.
First though NeekNaak wants success within its own borders. “We want to be the leader in Canada in the selling of modern design products and gadgets,” said Kpodar.
It does have its competitors, like Cargoh.com and iGet.it in Canada and Fab.com, Fancy.com and Etsy.com in the US to name a few. But Kpodar says he’ll differentiate through small, local brands, smaller shipping fees and better customer service.
The founder came to Canada in 1999 by way of Côte d'Ivoire, gaining experience in the financial field as an advisor. Since then he’s started up a personal finance education site and another company that established partnerships between Canadian and West African businesses.
Kpodar’s latest venture looks promising. With a clean and easy user interface and several interesting products it will be interesting to see the kind of traction this new startup establishes.