PSFK talks to Elizabeth Shaffer, co-founder of MASSE, to discuss her startup's approach to ecommerce driven by personal recs, and the value of a new AMA series featuring female founders

In Brief:

  • In an online environment flooded with sponsored content and paid reviews, MASSE is a site that's investing in real, personal product recommendations. Launched a year ago, the platform features items from all verticals and builds community around shared needs.
  • Now, the site is trying something new: an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, feature, which connects brand founders directly to users. The AMAs take place directly within the app, allowing shoppers to submit questions and get feedback directly.
  • MASSE co-founder Elizabeth Shaffer spoke with PSFK about the platform and its new series, which will focus on beauty for its first round of founders.

PSFK: Where did the idea for the AMA series come from?

Elizabeth Shaffer: The idea for the AMA series mainly came from our community. Our users are product enthusiasts who love brands and love sharing about them. Many of them are using MASSE because they’re tired of impersonal brand marketing and wanted to have a place where they could share and learn about the brands and products they love directly with each other, with all the details they know from their extensive research.

Since we don’t allow sponsored content or paid posts, we knew any partnership would have to be consistent with MASSE’s values and what the community would really enjoy. The AMAs are exactly that: a genuine way for fans and potential customers to connect with the visionaries behind these brands.

Consumers now have more options than ever to share reviews online. What makes MASSE unique from other platforms?

What differentiates MASSE as a platform is that we don’t allow fake, sponsored or paid posts; we know that this is key to ensure conversations are genuine and recommendations are credible. Beauty is a category in which consumers feel particularly passionate about the brands and products they’re using. But as the category is rapidly growing, consumers have more options than ever, and high standards for what they’re buying.

MASSE fits into these industry trends by facilitating the consumer decision process in an authentic way. By allowing consumers to pose questions to each other and hear real feedback, they can cut through marketing plays and buzzy, technological offerings to learn about what actually works from other consumers who have also done their research.

Courtesy of MASSE

MASSE is all about sharing and communication, across multiple verticals. Why focus mostly on beauty for this series?

Our most popular category is beauty—about 40% of the conversations on MASSE are beauty-related. In recognition of this, and seeing how, for beauty in particular, our community felt so strongly about not only the brands they were buying, but also the teams behind them, it was a natural decision to focus on beauty for the series.

How will engaging MASSE fans with female founders complement or augment brand engagement, as well as sales?

We’re hoping that the AMAs are an opportunity for our community to learn more from the visionaries behind these brands, and for founders to add context and color to their brands as they contribute to the conversation overall. Our community is full of researchers, and they want to know as much information as possible.

We selected female founders who have interesting stories to tell, and interesting brands that are telling them. They’re addressing a need in the market in a new and unique way—for example, Katie Sturino of Megababe, who is our first female founder, has developed products that women actually need, designing products around real concerns helps to fight the stigma around them. We love founders who have developed these mission-driven brands and have innovative ways of what consumers want and need.

Courtesy of MASSE

MASSE


Lead image: Eugene Chystiakov/Unsplash

In Brief:

In an online environment flooded with sponsored content and paid reviews, MASSE is a site that's investing in real, personal product recommendations. Launched a year ago, the platform features items from all verticals and builds community around shared needs. Now, the site is trying something new: an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, feature, which connects brand founders directly to users. The AMAs take place directly within the app, allowing shoppers to submit questions and get feedback directly. MASSE co-founder Elizabeth Shaffer spoke with PSFK about the platform and its new series, which will focus on beauty for its first round of founders.

PSFK: Where did the idea for the AMA series come from?