"I have six seconds to show you what you want to buy, or I’ve already lost you,” says Olga Vidisheva, founders of Shoptiques.com, a white-hot New York-based tech start-up whose nine curators go in search of fashion boutiques, home-goods stores, and gift shops around the United States (and foreign markets like Paris and London) that don’t have e-commerce and bring them online.
If her challenge seems lofty, it’s nothing compared to what she has already achieved. Vidisheva, who was born in Soviet-era Kyrgyzstan, moved to the United States as a teenager when her mother, a concert pianist, got a job in New Mexico. Vidisheva learned English by waitressing at a Japanese restaurant and later attended Wellesley College, modeling to pay her tuition.
At Goldman Sachs (the company hired her out of school, no wonder), she was one of two women among about 100 men in technology, media, and telecom investment banking. While at Harvard Business School (she got in, naturally), she interned at Chanel, where her colleagues often complimented her on outfits that she had purchased at independent boutiques. This inspired what would become the founding principle of her new company: “It’s a luxury to be able to wear something unique that you can’t find anywhere else,” she says.
She launched Shoptiques three years ago and subsequently applied to Y Combinator, a prestigious tech incubator in Mountain View, California. (She was accepted, of course.) In 2014 Shoptiques was home to 250 boutiques; today it has 1,500. That’s 500 percent growth—all the more astounding considering the company is so focused on curation that it rejects 80 percent of the boutiques that apply. And Vidisheva—who is just shy of 30—shows no signs of slowing down. “The future for Shoptiques is figuring out how to use technology to show shoppers only the things they want to see,” she says. “Like a Netflix recommendation.”