Launch Pad: Apu Gupta WG’05, Founder of Curalate

What does Curalate do? It makes pictures shop-able.

Why is this awesome? Because unfortunately, as Curalate founder Apu Gupta WG’05 says, “The pictures are not aware of the products that are inside of them.”

This means that when you see a picture of a great microphone or a cute sweater online, you may have to do some serious sleuthing to find out exactly which microphone or sweater it is—let alone how to buy it. Curalate solves this problem. With Curalate, you can hover over the coveted item, and suddenly a “shop” button appears. Click; buy.

Or as Gupta puts it: “What we really want to do is shorten that distance, from that moment of discovery to that moment of purchase. We want to make that as frictionless as possible.”

Like so many entrepreneurial tales, Curalate’s origin story includes abject failure and a dramatic pivot. In 2011, Gupta and his co-founder launched an “AirBNB for storage”, and raised a seed round with relative ease. Unfortunately, it never got more than 3,000 visitors to the website.

They offered the investors their money back.

Happily instead of accepting the return, those investors told Gupta and his co-founder to go figure something else out. They came up with an idea for analytics for Pinterest, which in late 2011 was exploding. Then came the insight that what was going on wasn’t just about Pinterest: it was about pictures. What they were seeing was a fundamental shift in consumer behavior online. More and more, people were (and are) consuming visual content instead of traditional text content (emojis, anyone?).

Curalate came out of this realization.

This is big, disruptive, fascinating stuff. Listen to the interview to hear Karl Ulrich and Apu Gupta discuss.