Unboxing videos — where people open and review new products — are an internet phenomenon, and a new app aims to make it easier for viewers to buy the tech gadgets featured in those mobile videos.
Packagd, a Silicon Valley startup, launched Unboxed in the Apple App Store on Thursday. The app features live, expert-curated shows that let consumers discover new products with authentic reviews. Users can interact with hosts and audiences through live chat and also buy products securely from retailers like Best Buy within the app.
To learn more, we chatted with Eric Feng, co-founder and CEO of Packagd and general partner at Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that has invested in the likes of Google, Amazon, Twitter and Uber.
Where did the idea for Unboxed start?
Prior to Kleiner Perkins, I spent much of my career building technology for video at Hulu and a previous company I started. I’ve always believed that video is one of the most compelling forms of communication, but there’s been an opportunity for video to inspire commerce, especially on mobile. We’re all familiar with home shopping networks like HSN and QVC. They create entertaining, engaging product-focused content that has a direct path to purchase, but that model hasn’t yet crossed over to a millennial audience on mobile. I thought that was a really exciting opportunity.
How will you reach that millennial audience?
There’s a very vibrant, active, passionate ecosystem of users and user-creators that is making content that is all about products. Unboxing videos are already incredibly popular on platforms like YouTube, generating about 10 billion monthly views. One in three millennials on YouTube watches these videos, and it’s becoming a part of their decision-making process when making purchases
Our hypothesis is that these videos, while very popular, aren’t actually reaching their full potential. They do something no other video on YouTube does — they drive purchase intent. But that’s being underleveraged. So, we thought we could create the next-generation version of QVC and HSN, built on top of these unboxing videos. Last March we started on the journey of building this product and went through a whole bunch of different iterations before landing on something we are excited to launch today.
Tell us more about Unboxed. How does it work?
Unboxed aims to bring entertainment and discovery back into the shopping experience. There’s a live section where you can interact with the hosts and other users. We want you to feel like you’re in a live studio, with the host guiding the conversation with other audience members. That was very much inspired by what has worked at QVC. At launch, we’re partnering with popular unboxing stars such as Austin Evans, Dom Esposito and Kevin the Tech Ninja and many more.
You can buy the products featured in the videos seamlessly and securely through Apple Pay. By partnering with retailers like Best Buy, we’ve designed a frictionless checkout process that offers consumers one place to discover and purchase with unboxing videos at its core.
Will you only feature tech products?
We want to create a broad platform, but we’re starting with apps focused on very targeted audiences. Users are really passionate about specific product categories, and these product categories bring people together. For example, if I’m really into tech, I can come to Unboxed, put my tech hat on and geek out with others who are equally excited about new products in that space. In a few months, we’re launching another app focused on makeup and beauty products, followed by one more targeting toys.
Where do you see this going? What’s the long-term potential?
We have absolute conviction that, in the next year or two, there will be a broad platform where you can consume really entertaining content about products and then seamlessly purchase those products. That consumer behavior is already happening and will likely become even more broad. We hope we’ll have the opportunity to continue innovating on this for consumers.