In a commerce driven world, shoppers abound. From flash sales on time-sensitive sites and hour-long waits for fast fashion collabs to black friday mobs and run of the mill retail therapy, we show no sign of slowing down and our wallets are feeling tired. For students especially, shopping habits can be detrimental to bank accounts and credit limits.
Enter, Perkla. An e-commerce site created by Columbia Business students for students, ridden with perks and discounts for those who are on their study grind. Currently, only a handful of schools are partners, but anyone can request that their school join the group. In terms of the retailers, labels such as Helmut Lang, Theory, Rent The Runway, and Bonobons have joined forces with this perk-driven site. We caught up with Josh Kaplan, one of the main men behind this retail platform.
We Are The Market: Explain your company in 10 words or less:
Joshua Kaplan: Perkla provides a curated digital shopping experience for student discounts.
What is the toughest thing you did today?
Break the news to my parents that they aren't invited to our launch party. (They're not in our target demographic)
How did you get to do what it is you do now?
Been working in media and digital platforms for a while now, and grad school at Columbia has been very entrepreneurial
How has your business grown/evolved/changed since its launch?
At the beginning, we were very adamant about our discounts being digital-only, to create a niche. However, we discovered that many students were actively researching their purchases online before heading into stores, so now we allow them to print out coupons / use our mobile platform for brick-and-mortar purchases.
What conversation do you aim to disrupt-- what are you doing that is different, unique?
We aim to eliminate the barriers to entry for student discounts, and keep them at top of mind.
What is the bravest thing you've done with your business?
Stand up against the Lannisters.
If you didn't do this, what would you do?
Pledge allegiance to the Iron Throne.
What are you short term goals-- long term?
Our short term goals are to expand our network and retail partners, offering more discounts to more students. Down the road we will create a single-sign-on and seamless integration into retail shopping carts.
What does your Monday to do list have on it?
Aside from attending class at 9AM until 9PM?
What is the most exciting thing about being a part of the fashion space today?
Despite what macro markets predict about retail spending, students are recession-proof. We are excited to deliver a product to a demographic full of early adopters and influencers.
What does success look like to you?
Being top of mind. If every student in the country thinks of Perkla first when shopping online, we've done our job.
Who or what inspires you to do what you do?
My parents. My mother taught me the value of working harder than everyone else around you, and my father showed me that knowing when to turn it off is just as important.
What is one thing you wish you knew before you started?
How to make a dollar out of $0.15.
The one thing you'd never share with anyone?
How to make a dollar out of $0.15.
Your dream collaboration?
Google. Integrating Perkla into their products, search and analytics to offer a seamless benefit for students across all of their digital devices.
Who would you most like to be pen pals with?
The best advice you ever got?
"All you need in life is food, water, oxygen, and a boat." - My Dad
Fictional closet you'd most like to raid:
Patrick Bateman's, although I have a slightly better hair cut.
Fill in the blank: One thing I'm dying to do this summer is devour a cronut.
Who's the coolest person you know AKA who should we ask these questions to next? Justin Belmont & Marc Lombardo, obviously.
Thanks Josh! Check out Perkla, right here.