How LTK’s cofounder competes against big social with her billion-dollar ‘shopping community’ app that turns some influencers into millionaires

May 22, 2023
How LTK’s cofounder competes against big social with her billion-dollar ‘shopping community’ app that turns some influencers into millionaires

Every social media app has rolled out a shopping function. Instagram has Instagram Shopping so that users can buy wares without leaving the app. TikTok has shoppable ads. YouTube has Shopping for creators to embed products. And despite the enormous budgets, audience, and manpower that power these platforms, LTK—a social platform where all posts contain links to purchase—continues to be a shoppable social market leader. 

This, according to its cofounder Amber Venz Box, is because of the app’s “shopping community,” which she defines as a “piece of [users’] entire community, but really what marketers are buying.” 

The community is sizable with 20 million monthly active users (Instagram has over 2.3 billion), 6,000 brands on the platform, and over 200,000 vetted creators—the forces at play to drive $3.6 billion in retail sales annually. The lion’s share of LTK creators are women, and over 200 of these users have made upwards of $1 million pushing brand wares on the platform.

Venz Box built LTK from her own experience as a personal shopper in Dallas who had garnered a cult following of customers, and made no upside on her shopping fan club until she engineered a shoppable vlog called VenzEdits with her then-boyfriend (now husband and cofounder) Baxter Box. 

“I found out that I was giving my services away for free,” Venz Box recalls during her fireside conversation with Fortune Executive editor Michal Lev-Ram at Most Powerful Women Next Gen summit on Tuesday. Realizing the power of the shoppable Venz Edits platforms, the duo started bringing the system to fellow bloggers and taking a cut in the process.

This was 2010. By 2017, creators were generating more than $150 million in sales for brands through LTK. All of this helped Venz Box and her cofounder husband Baxter Box land $300 million in funding from Softbank in 2021, making Venz Box one of America’s richest self-made women (per my reporting at Forbes).

Now, with over 750 employees, Venz Box continues to think about how LTK can be the world’s creator-led digital shopping mall. A huge part of this is pushing and elevating short-form video content; LTK’s data shows users are three-times more likely to purchase from this type of content. “Video is how people are being reached,” she summarizes. 

Though Venz Box is not opposed to taking LTK public, she says that LTK will not get acquired and is confident the company will continue to best big social players. “LTK is certainly the pioneer and inventor of creator commerce,” she says. “New entrants often underestimate our industry’s sophistication.”

Source: fortune