Tired of the T-shirt? SeeSnapGet takes shopping while traveling to the next level

You’re on vacation, and you stumble into a unique shop run by a local merchant. You find something you’ve just got to have — a painting, a sculpture, a piece of furniture — but then you stop short. You can’t buy it. You have no way to get it home.

Sound familiar?

It happens frequently among travelers, and it’s a problem on two fronts: For the traveler, this is a missed opportunity to bring home an item with a story behind it. For the merchant, this is business lost.

Don Nelson created SeeSnapGet to solve that problem.

“In towns across America — from Main Street in Lake Placid, N.Y., to Sante Fe, N.M., travelers are seeing something they want to purchase, passing on it, going home and wishing they had bought it,” Nelson explains. “We want to remove that regret and take the stress out of the process.”

SeeSnapGet facilitates the transaction between travelers and local merchants. It’s an app that allows the shopper to request quotes, buy, track shipping and share their unique treasures. Merchants like local artists and boutique retailers recover sales that otherwise would be lost. And shoppers get to take a piece of their travels with them.

Nelson recognized this problem while leading ecommerce and digital marketing teams for companies such as Sam’s Club and Toys R Us. These roles required frequent business travel, and he wanted to bring presents home for his family.

Unfortunately, he was often stuck considering only “packable” items — like small toys or a scarf.

“I could only bring home things that could easily fit in my bag,” he said. “It got me thinking, Do other people have this problem? What do they want to bring home beyond a T-shirt?”

Recently, Nelson engaged beta testers to begin uploading photos of items they wanted to purchase through the app.

From there, SeeSnapGet contacts the local merchant and talks about the item(s), logistics for packaging and shipping, sales tax and a commission structure.

“My first call with a retailer starts with me saying, ‘I have a customer for you,’” he said. “They don’t want to set up a whole ecommerce site; they just want to take care of their customers.”

With SeeSnapGet, the travelers who regret not bringing home a cultural piece can revisit that decision, and those who window-shop after hours can connect with the merchant virtually regardless of whether the merchant has an ecommerce presence.

So far, people have uploaded and purchased a variety of items, including a set of 1950s diner-style bar stools, unique statues, and a Brazilian gold grass bracelet.

The connection through SeeSnapGet gives merchants an opportunity to create a lasting relationship with travelers. In the case of the Brazilian bracelet, the artist included a personal note with the piece’s history and information about the family who created it.

“We offer a totally different experience than a company finding a similar product mailed in a clear snack bag,” Nelson explained.

Nelson originally founded SeeSnapGet in New York in 2016, but after a move to Charlotte, he officially established it here in May 2017. Then last summer, he pitched at PitchBreakfast.

With some development setbacks in 2017, SeeSnapGet chose not to launch amid last year’s holiday rush. But 2018 stands to be a big year for the team. SeeSnapGet ran a beta test in January, soft-launched in the Apple App Store in April, and plan an official launch in time for the holiday shopping and travel season.

Nelson’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs stems from the lesson he learned in finding the right time to launch.

“There’s part of you that always wants to launch [yesterday],” Nelson said. “But this is an opportunity to be thoughtful, strategic, and develop the right relationships over time. Even if you have a great idea and you’ve watched Shark Tank, immerse [yourself] in the startup world. Listen first.”

This story was co-authored by David Stunja and Lexie Banks.

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