One of the speakers at our upcoming clinic “Winners and Losers in a Digital Age” is David Tisch, former head of TechStars NYC (a New York-based accelerator more competitive than Harvard) and cofounder of Spring, a one-month-old mobile shopping app that has received more than $7 million of funding. Tisch will give a talk on mobile shopping at the event, but we asked him a few questions about his new startup.

Looking at how brands have built a direct connection with consumers on social platforms such as Instagram, Tisch decided to build a commerce platform that enables them to cut out the middlemen, i.e. retailers. When a customer buys a product at a brand store, it’s a much different experience than buying it on Amazon, where brands lose control over the purchase experience. So why not bring that online connection to a commerce platform?

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In addition, brands working with Spring will have the advantage of having their mobile platforms up-to-date, without consistent redesign and investment. So far, 250 brands are selling on Spring, and Tisch plans to expand internationally. Edited Q&A with Tisch below:

The conference title is Winners & Losers in a Digital Age. Obviously, you believe Spring is a winner. Why? I think the opportunity we find most interesting is to connect the consumers with brands that have a direct relationship with the consumer. I think if you look at any brand, they have built online channels. When you go into a store, they have a certain décor, music. And they hire a certain type of employee. A brand wants you to believe a brand. When third parties sell a product, the brand has lost creative control.

Brands have built communication channels on Instagram, Vine, and Twitter that are incredible. You understand who they are, and fans write genuine comments. There is an opportunity to extend that to an e-commerce channel.

Are brands making a mistake incorporating user-generated content into their brand?

Quite the opposite, they are actually doing incredible. They are building genuine conversation, not just selling. The real opportunity for us is extending that relationship. We’re absolutely planning to work with social platforms. The more places we can bring the experience the better.

What are your plans for Spring in the next year? We’re a month old, so a year is quite a long time. The real goal is to deliver the experience consumers want, and expand the supply. Right now 250 brands are selling on Spring; we plan to grow that to over a 1000 in the next six months in a variety of categories. Having international audiences is our focus as well. There is a tremendous interest in buying American designers, and the experience of buying a brand overseas is different in each country. There is a real opportunity in Asia, the Arab World, and Europe.

Any surprises you encountered while creating Spring? The sophistication of the modern brand. Brands genuinely understand who their customer is, where they are and what they want. When we were building this we thought, would a luxury brand be comfortable being sold along a mass brand? But the best brands, no matter what they sold, had genuine understanding of the modern consumer. It’s really around being where the customer is at all times.




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