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Smartphone app startups cultivating niche markets in U.S.

Apple Inc.’s smartphones and tablets have given rise to startups creating mobile apps aimed at niche markets, such as Broadway productions and the sneaker resale industry.

Kyodo News along with other media outlets joined an Apple-backed tour of two such startups — ProductionPro and GOAT — in New York in early November to see their innovations in action.

(Alex Libby, left)[Photo courtesy of Apple]

Alex Libby, the founder of ProductionPro, introduced a rehearsal scene for «Pretty Woman: The Musical,» a show for which the app was used.

«This is the first production notebook and it helps quick communication, whether you are developing a new show or whether you are working on a hit like Pretty Woman,» Libby told reporters.

Before the app was created in 2013, directors and stage managers had to haul around 4.5 kilograms of production books filled with paper on every script and choreography change.

Now, notes can be made directly on the iPad with a digital stylus pen, significantly reducing paper waste. It also saves time by allowing easy communication and view of materials.

ProductionPro is being used in almost 20 percent of Broadway shows and Walt Disney Co.’s TV programs and theme park shows. Since last year, over 400 schools across the United States and Canada have been using ProductionPro to create their shows.

Another startup called GOAT partners with a sneaker consignment chain called Flight Club to create a reliable channel between sellers and buyers to trade rare and coveted sneakers like Nike Air Jordan.

In a marketplace where one out of every 10 sneakers sold online is counterfeit, sellers can send their sneakers to one of GOAT’s warehouses, where the sneakers are authenticated using artificial intelligence with indicators like smell.

(Eddy Lu, right)[Photo courtesy of Apple]

«There are so many fake sneakers out there, so if you are going to spend, whether it’s $ 100 or $ 45,000 on a pair of sneakers, you want them to be real because that is your hard-earned money,» GOAT CEO Eddy Lu said.

Launched in 2015, GOAT currently has over 10 million users, up four times from last year. Through GOAT, top sellers made $ 10 million in sales individually this year, compared to $ 2 million last year.

For this week’s «Black Friday,» which marks the first day of the holiday shopping season in the United States, GOAT is rolling out an augmented reality experience through its app for the first time.

It encourages users to explore 125 historical destinations based on sneaker culture, in which fashion label Comme des Garcons’ first store in Tokyo is included.

By exploring these sites, users can accumulate points and enter to win prizes like exclusive sneakers and up to $ 10,000 in GOAT credit.

All — Kyodo News+

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