Founder Besart Çopa never set out to build a startup. Instead, while struggling to save things he wanted to buy later, he just wanted an option to use himself.
“I thought, ‘Okay, I can build this pretty quickly. I can design it and hire someone for $1,000 to just build this extension, and I’ll use it,” Çopa told Technical.ly.
But the project ended up growing a little bigger. That extension, which he ultimately hired someone to build in the fall of 2021, turned into Chestr, a Georgetown-based ecommerce startup. With an iPhone app that launched last month and a Chrome extension, Chestr helps users track goods, sales and discounts when shopping online. Users can save items to a wishlist and share them with friends and family.
With cofounder Isaac Fung, Çopa started and built the company with the idea of helping people with their online shopping for items they didn’t want to impulse buy. The iPhone app is built with React GS and React Native while Firebase was used for the database and Chrome extension. In June, the company was selected for the inaugural Neo.com accelerator and raised $625,000 in pre-seed funds. It also currently boasts approximately 500 users.
In the beginning, Çopa said, Chestr was all about utility and building the best wishlist with superior design. But one of his favorite ways to shop is by crowdsourcing recommendations in Reddit subgroups, and he wanted to find a way to do that, too. Further down the line, he wants to expand Chestr into the social scene.
In addition to the wishlist option, he wants to let people populate their profiles with items they actually like to purchase (which he thinks will be more genuine than sponsored recommendations on apps like Instagram). He also aspires to add an anonymous option, where people can keep what they’re buying to themselves while also connecting with others interested in similar items.
“The best way to do that is to find people that like the same things and there’s really no tool out there — social ecommerce or social shopping is still not a thing that has worked in the states,” Çopa said.
Next month, he and Fung plan to launch the company’s seed round, although he declined to specify how much funding they’ll be seeking. With those funds, he wants to start building the full-time team and expand on some of the social features he’s hoping to add to the technology.
But the overall goal, he said, is to be the go-to wishlist option for virtual shoppers.
“We really want to become the wishlist for Gen Z-ers,” Çopa said.-30-