Yay or Yeay? The social video retail platform engaging Gen Z

Engaging generation Z is tough for many businesses but Melanie Mohr thinks she has cracked it with her social, video retail app, Yeay.

The mobile commerce space has been rapidly growing over the last few years with the surge in Gen Z throwing disposable cash at the latest technology trend. The industry is only looking to get stronger and Yeay are hoping to be at the very forefront of this wave with their social retail app. Melanie Mohr set up Yeay in Berlin with a mind to empower teenagers to creatively film, market and sell items through their mobile phone. Going from strength to strength, Yeay is set to be the big name in mobile commerce.

What is Yeay?

We are a social retail app on your mobile that lets you market and sell clothes and items via 20 second videos. Find something you want to sell, like a dress or some trainers and film the product any way you see fit in order to drum up the most interest and instantly post it on your channel.

It’s a branded channel where you are the owner and your content is visible to any buyers who are interested. Your video will appear with your channel and your own collection of items but will also appear for example in the sneakers channel if you are selling sneakers, or a guitar in the music channel.

It will appear across all these channels and you can start selling. You give it a name and a price, you let us know what kind of shipment you want, national or international, used or new goods, you set the parameters and then you can start selling. It is that simple!

We pride ourselves on how quick the process is – it might take you 20 seconds to make a video, maybe another 20 seconds with the admin set up and then off you go!

Where are you based and how many staff members do you have?

We are based in Berlin but we also have a little office in LA. I really like Berlin because its cheaper than other cities and there is a really exciting business vibe in the city. I think it grew from the underground art scene but it is a great city to start a business. We have 36 staff members and I am one of only a few Germans!

Where did the idea come from?

I am a story teller and I have 20 years of video content creation behind me. I dived into the digital and mobile space because I saw it as the future of retail distribution. I was already creating apps and I read an article about TV shopping and how successfully they are still selling to an older generation. I am a mother myself with three children, two of which are teens, and I see how they are marketed to. TV doesn’t work for them.

Mobile fits to their habits and needs and video content is a really important part of their world, its how they interact, communicate and learn and in many respects they are natural born content creators so I thought to give them a platform to buy and sell products through social video sharing in a creative way.

How did you find building an app and marketing to the younger generations?

Gen Z is probably going to be the most entrepreneurial Generation ever, they really are different to the millennials born before social media who grew up wanting to be an influencer and Instagram or Youtube famous.

Gen Z are more about making money and doing it through business, creating their own brands. They tend to be self taught in a lot of these technical and entrepreneurial skills and everything they need to know is in their hand on their mobile phones.

How and why did you get funding?

I am a bit embarrassed but it was crazy easy for us! I am a serial entrepreneur and I know how hard it is to get investors excited about something you are excited about – but I had the idea in November 2015 and got first grade angel investors onboard in December so we incorporated pretty much immediately. It wasn’t even a month of funding – perhaps two phone calls! We recently went through the seeding rounds and we raised a lot of money.

We have great venture capital companies on board and top notch European angels.

What were the major barriers and milestones?

We were discovered by Apple early on who saw a lot of interesting features in our app that I guess they thought could be placed elsewhere too. They got passionate about our platform and got really supportive.

They featured us in the global app store which was really helpful. It is interesting though because we now have downloads in 160 countries and I am yet to discover a marketplace that went global from day one. You might think of social and entertainment platforms that did but not marketplaces.

We started with an english version in beta but then we moved into ten language versions. Apple said they wanted to feature us globally but didn’t know how many language versions we could set up quickly. After a month we had 18 – all European languages and a lot of Asian versions – and this is the curse and blessing at the same time because it is crazy to launch globally from day one. It’s really hard to market from scratch to every country but it is a nice problem to try and solve – we have great organic downloads in Egypt and we don’t know where its coming from!

Where do you see yourself and Yeay in 5 years?

If you look into the online commerce space in the next few years it will grow to £600 billion and mobile commerce is growing 200 per cent faster than e-commerce – which is fuelled mainly by Gen Z who are more likely to shop on a mobile.

Our opportunity is to be THE mobile commerce platform for the younger generation and that is where we want to be.

There are some challenges targeting this audience – they have ad blockers installed and it isn’t easy to reach and engage them. They instantly know when they are being marketed to and they are very picky. They also have access to a lot of money but many industries like fintech are not keeping up with them, so we want to go into that.

We want to create the most seamless and most fun shopping market platform for this generation.

How do you build a marriage between millennials and technology? What advice would you give to other businesses?

First you need to collaborate with young people in everything you do. Understand what they want and what they like and then create something for them. You need to empower them and give them the opportunity to create. We discovered this early on and we want to collaborate with our audience and give them the tools to help build our product.

Brands reached out to us and discovered that we are an access point for them to connect with this generation through content which is our next step and I think businesses need to understand the concept of empowerment.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur you would be…?

I have a lot of experience in business and content creation. I have said that I am a story teller and I am interested in that and engaging with people through stories. Thankfully Yeay is fuelling this personal desire of mine.

I am also really creative and I try to champion creative expression so I think I would be helping other people or mentoring through projects and investment in social entrepreneurs.

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for SmallBusiness.co.uk. He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...