Walter Haas is the founder of GIST, an e-commerce startup currently under development in San Francisco. He has held several marketing positions, including head of marketing with Enjoy Technology, a Silicon Valley-based company focused on retail and on-demand logistics.
This Slogging thread by Limarc Ambalina, Walter Haas and Jack Boreham occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Hello Everyone! Please join me in welcoming our newest AMA guest Walter Haas!
Please feel free to ask him anything about:
Thanks for joining us today Walter Haas
Thanks, Limarc Ambalina!
Excited to share something fun with your group
Awesome! To get started can you tell us a bit more about GIST, what it is, what it does, how it works, and the problem you're trying to solve with it.
GIST is a social network built around what you and your friends buy. Think of it like Instagram, if every picture was something you bought.
We bring personal trust to online product discovery. We do it by showing you what your friends have bought.
By making the purchase history of everyone accessible to everyone, it becomes the digital version of the ultimate product recommendation: social proof at internet scale.
Hi, Walter Haas a pleasure to have you here. I love the concept, by the way; such a great idea. Recently on the news (at least in the UK), companies such as Amazon have started to lose that personal trust with its customers through fake reviews and all. What do you think of this? Also, how important is personal trust in your business?
There are reports that up to 49% of Amazon reviews are incentivized (read: fake) so it’s a huge problem
Yet, reviews are the best thing out there for giving consumers useful recommendations
GIST sidesteps that confusion by showing you what your real friends and people you can trust have actually bought so you can decide what to buy
The only way you can share something on GIST is if you bought it, which raises the stakes for every recommendation
One question I have about the platform is how can it tell which products are made in China or made elsewhere? And is the main goal here to encourage more people to buy local, rather than sending their money to offshore manufacturers?
Thanks for that question. For those who want to know, what you’re referring to is a fun web tool we just launched which can tell you how much of your money goes to Non-US based companies. You can check that out here http://www.gistapp.co/usa
We wanted people to realize how much of what they buy impacts the world around them
I’m a big believer in “voting with your dollar.” This website quickly syncs with your gmail to see where you’re spending your money, and who you’re supporting in the process.
We did research to find out which companies make products in the US
Most of our users are Gen-Z. Besides food, #1 Made in USA company was… Glossier!
This seems like something that'd be perfect as a Chrome plugin. I've used a chrome plugin that tells me the carbon footprint of anything I add to cart on Amazon, it'd be great if we also had something like this that tells us where all our money goes. 🙏
On that note, where do you see the future of ecommerce going? Do you feel (or at least hope) that it isn't pretty much monopolized by the big players in the world: Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, etc.
I believe we’re in the early innings of e-commerce and that one can compete with the giants of the industry
Limarc Ambalina, you took the words straight out of my mouth. Walter Haas Do you think there's potential for the website to have a positive impact on the environment? Say if you have a friend who likes to shop sustainably, you could mimic spending habits. Create mini environmental communities based on trusted purchases?
Absolutely. GIST allows you to express what you truly value
Most of social media is based on talk, we tap into the real actions (what you bought) to help you craft an honest digital identity.
And to your point, having similar taste and values around what you buy creates a new opportunity to meet with like-minded people online
We have a very different approach to data: We believe it’s yours to keep.
What GIST does is take the data that you give out to all these companies and give it back to you.
So, we don’t leverage tracking technologies like cookies
Instead, we work with e-mail providers and other direct integrations to only pull shopping history data and present it back to you to share. EVERYTHING on GIST is private by default.
We can do this because we don’t make money in the same way as other social media sites. They are in the advertising business, which forces them to put a premium on knowing everything they can about you. We make only money when people buy something, getting a cut of that sale from the store. In that case, we aren’t incentivized to sell access to you, just help you find the best place to buy something you already want.
Just a quick question about http://www.gistapp.co/usa again. I notice that this is a "give us your email and we'll send you a report of your buying history" form. I'm curious, on average, are most people's reports shocking to them? Meaning have you found that most people are shocked when they realize how much of their money is going to offshore businesses/manufacturers?
Secondly, this seems focused on tracking spending going to China, but does it track spending going to countries other than China as well?
You can learn a lot about yourself based on where you spend your money online. Here are some different results our users have gotten:
We’re doing research every day to show how your shopping impacts the world, which will include countries and even people — For example, many of us “contribute” a lot to Jeff Bezos’s wallet, and I believe people should know that!
While it’s a bit provocative, we wanted to start an important conversation about all of our role in the supply chain crisis and the US/China rivalry
Haha, these pics are brilliant. I really love the idea. I see huge potential for, saying, the fitness industry as well. There are a ton of bad products out there. Your website will help thousands who want to buy right.
Curation and Trust are the biggest problems in e-commerce today. There feels like infinite choice of what to buy — most of it 🚮 — we help people find the right thing.
I think the awareness is important for sure, but how much do you think this is the consumer's responsibility and not the conglomerate's responsibility?
It's easy to decide that you want to spend your money close to home, but at the end of the day, people still want the newest iPhone. How much of this issue do you think is Apple's fault, for example, versus the consumer's responsibility?
Are there any ways in which you want to expand GIST in the future? Any new initiatives? Or features?
I believe in the power of the free market to drive change. If consumers start valuing / demanding this, so too will companies.
GIST is just getting started. The future of online product discovery is about the trustworthiness of the source, and GIST is going to own that space. We’re launching exciting features that help consumers better navigate the world of commerce. It’s a simple idea: you are what you buy. We’re making that useful to find the best products from the best people.
So when is the official launch Walter Haas and is it going to be available both on Android and Apple devices?
We’re in beta now but if you sign up you can get access. For now, we’re only on iOS, but ANYONE can use the China/US scan game here: http://www.gistapp.co/usa
Great. Well thanks so much for joining us for this interview/ama Walter Haas do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Where can everyone follow you and your company for updates?
Thanks, Limarc Ambalina and Jack Boreham! HackerNoon users can download GIST http://gistapp.co/beta. Feel free to follow our IG page which posts interesting data from the world of shopping: http://www.gistapp.co/gist_app
Thanks for joining us, Walter Haas. A pleasure to talk with you. I can't wait to sign up!!