Featured on Nov 11, 2011
"I love Peter Luger, The High Line, and how NYC has transformed to be a powerful technology hub."
Originally from Vietnam, I came to the U.S. for college. I have been living in many states including Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina, and New York. I finally stayed in New York forever, maybe because I got rent control (j.k), but I do feel like home here, and this is the place that I can enjoy working and living forever.
I started out of college working at IBM as a Software Architect. I enjoyed the corporate world for a while, but it didn't suit my personality. So I started my first startup, VIFAH LLC, in 2007, focusing on supplying to Top 500 Internet Retailers. The company grew to be a vendor of record of supplying to Internet Retailers such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Target.com, and Costco.com. In March 2011, I founded another startup, Taap.it, which just launched at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 94.
Taap.it is a simple, fast, and fun app that allows anyone to snap a photo and start selling on their phone instantly. It's like a combination of Foursquare, Craigslist, eBay, and Instagram. Not only posting something you want to sell, you can also post what you are looking for and share your opinion with local community.
- Title: CEO, Taap.it
- Age: 28
- Location: Midtown
- Contact: @duyhtq
Back in August you told The Next Web that you had crossed over 2 million transactions in New York City alone, and that you were hoping to expand to other cities soon. How has it been going at Taap.it since then?
Since then, our user base has grown significantly. About 5,000 local businesses in NYC signed up already, and we have over 70,000 items posted on Taap.it. We've also launched new features including a "buy-it-now" button for local businesses to sell items directly through Taap.it as well as a follow button and deals feature, which all have been working well for us.
So with that said, we've grown quite heavily, however we plan to still concentrate heavily on the NYC scene. Before we choose to add on territory, we'd like for the brand to be engrossed in the NYC "lifestyle" before we try to jump around the country. We're getting there, but we're not there yet. As we continue to grow with the strength of our NY community, we will.
We want Taap.it to be the "go to" app for purchasing local products whether you want to order a dish from a local restaurant, purchase a camera from a local electronic store, or find an apartment in East Village. NYC is the perfect place for us to develop our product.
You mention that you love how NYC has transformed to be a powerful technology hub. Do you think there is anything the community or government could be doing better in this regard?
Yes, NYC has transformed into a powerful technology hub. The community can continue to foster the strengths of individuals and creating united fronts under the different verticals in technology. The many meetups, mixers, and workshops that contribute to different aspects of community growth in technology are helpful in leveraging the already existing skills to further each initiative. What would help is if everyone continues to support each other (as both individuals and companies) so that we can as a whole continue to bring Silicon "Alley" to the next level.
In fact we have been partnering with a few other start-ups in NYC to support each other to grow. Taap.it is a local marketplace, so it needs a lot of partners across various industries to build up a successful marketplace. We want people to "think local, live local, and shop local" with Taap.it.
What are some of the important lessons that you learned while forming VIFAH LLC that have helped you with Taap.it?
When starting a business, you always learn things the first time around to use for the second. So with Taap.it, we learned how to focus on our core competencies of the product from the beginning. One idea we felt was key was the fact that our service can help those local businesses that have a need for a presence, either on the web or on mobile. In fact, 9 out of 10 local businesses we spoke to don't have a web presence, and almost none have a mobile presence.
We figured by helping out other local businesses, especially those in our very own NY community, we would eventually receive a return on our investment over time. This helps us to build a loyal base as well as a community around our users and their services.
The most important lesson that I learned at VIFAH is to begin understanding the gap between online shopping and offline shopping experiences, and there is a need to make this connection. Online shopping is convenient but it can also be frustrating. Sometimes you receive an item after waiting for 2 weeks, but it is either damaged in transit or just not what you expected. Offline shopping in person can be fun but it can also be tiring. Walking from store to store and not finding what you want is frustrating. We know. We know.
Taap.it combines the best of online and offline shopping. We also eliminate the frustration in both of them. Taap.it Local Marketplace is a whole new shopping experience on the go. It is dead simple to use, rich in local offerings, and available on both mobile and the web.
From your computer browser or your phone, you now can browse for specific products, exact dishes, and particular services that your neighborhood merchants have to offer. It is more than just store name and location; you actually can dive into each and every specific item at that store. Everything comes with photos so you know exactly what you are getting.
You can purchase through the app, and choose to pick up or get it delivered to you.
Doing business in NYC is great, and I'm very excited about the growth of Taap.it in the last few months.