The pandemic has made everything but impossible for a sales company without an online presence to survive. Yet while companies heavily dependent on foot traffic like J. Crew and Sur la Table have presented a failure this year, companies that are experts in e-commerce have prospered, including Target and Walmart.
Amazon will gain perhaps the most steam in 2020, attracting about a quarter of all the dollars spent online by American shoppers all year round.
Unfortunately, as more shopping moves online, fraud is also exploding. The problem is such that startups working with companies on the issue – marking transactions for banks, for example – are increasing. dry of financing. Meanwhile, one New York-based startup, Fakespot, takes a different approach. Use AI to warn online customers when the products they are looking to buy are fake ads or when the reviews they are reading about markets like Amazon or eBay are fake.
We spoke earlier today with Kuwaiti founder and immigrant Saoud Khalifah about the four-year deal, which began in his room after his own frustrating experience trying to buy nutritional supplements from Amazon. After escaping his master’s degree in software engineering, he launched the company in earnest. Like many other companies,
Like many other companies, Fakespot was originally focused on helping corporate customers identify counterfeit clothing and counterfeit magazines. When the pandemic hit, the company spewed an “open crack on the Internet,” as Khalifah describes it, and instead began to directly target consumers who are increasingly using platforms that are struggling to keep up – and which their solutions are often more focused on protects sellers from buyers and not the other way around.
The pivot seems to work. Fakespot just closed on $ 4 million in Series A funding led by Bullpen Capital, which was joined by SRI Capital, Faith Capital and 500 Startups among others in a roundtable bringing the company’s total funding to $ 7 million.
The company is gaining even more attention from buyers. Khalifah says that a Chrome browser extension introduced earlier this year has now been downloaded 300,000 times – and this on the heels of “millions of users” who have separated visited the Fakespot site, written in a URL of a product review, and through its “Fakespot Analyzer,” has been provided with free data to help inform their purchasing decisions.
In fact, according to Khalifah, since the official founding of Fakespot it has gathered a database of more than 8 billion reviews – about 10 times more numerous than the famous travel site Tripadvisor – from which its AI has learned. He says the technology is sophisticated enough at this point to identify the text generated by AI; as for the “lowest fruit,” he says, he can easily find it when reviews or positive feelings about a company are published inorganically, presumably published by click farm. (It also traces false votings.)
As far as where buyers can use the chrome extension, Fakespot currently covers all the major markets, including Amazon, eBay, Best Buy, Walmart and Sephora. Soon, says Khalifah, users will also be able to use the technology to assess the quality of products that are sold through Shopify, the software platform that hosts hundreds of thousands of online stores. (Last year, he overtook eBay to become the No. 2 e-commerce destination in the United States, according to Shopify.)
Now, Fakespot is free to use, also because every review that a consumer enters into their database helps shape their AI further. Along the way, the company expects to make money by adding a number of tools on top of its free offer. It can also make lead generation agreements with companies whose products and reviews it has already verified as true and true.
The question, of course, is how much technology works reliably in the meantime. While Khalifah comprehensively sings the praises of Fakespot, a visit to the Google Play store, for example, paints a mixed frame, with many enthusiastic reviews and some that are, well, less enthusiastic.
Khalifah promptly admits that Fakespot’s mobile apps need more attention, which he says they will receive. Although Fakespot has been focused primarily on the desktop experience, Khalifah notes that more than half of online spending is expected to be realized for mobile phones sometime next year, a change that is not lost on him, even while it depends somewhat on the pandemic that has been effectively ended (and that consumers are they find themselves on the run again).
However, he says that “ironically, a lot [bad] the reviews are from sellers who are furious that we have given them class F. They are often furious that we have revealed that their product is full of false reviews. “
As for how Fakespot goes beyond these to improve its own assessment, Khalifah suggests that the best strategy is actually quite simple.
“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of other satisfied users,” he says, adding, “No one else really has the backbone of consumers.”