On Amazon, the Tovsto Uluru Drone costs $998, shipping included. On Peter Khalil's new platform, WholeSplit, the same drone costs $360.
Creating an online platform that crowdsources interested buyers, Khalil and his six-person team have developed a method that allows regular consumers to take advantage of bulk pricing that's typically reserved for retailers. While the price difference varies by product, Khalil said the average discount is about 50 percent on each product.
The idea is to effectively cut out the retailer standing between consumers and manufacturers altogether.
"I feel a really big problem is that a lot of the U.S. consumers don't have access to buy directly anymore," said Khalil. "When you go abroad, you see prices that are ridiculously less than here, and it's the same product. We're kind of getting ripped off."
That's on top of running into minimum order requirements when buying directly from global trading websites like Alibaba, both of which helped lead Khalil to the idea for WholeSplit's.
At the time, Khalil couldn't find any online forums where individual buyers or small business owners could team up to fulfill order requests. Problem in hand, he chose to lead the development of a solution: WholeSplit.
Still in its infancy, the fledgling startup soft launched in October during Austin Startup Week and has 20 Chinese manufacturers already on board. The team continues to upload all of the products currently available on their site, and every product listed includes shipping and a one-year warranty.
"[The manufacturers] love it," said Khalil. "They don't get the opportunity to directly market to consumers in the U.S., and we're providing them that chance to do so."
If a WholeSplit user wants to get a purchasing group together for a product not listed, they can add it to the website's forum page. Then, as more people vote for it, the WholeSplit team will locate the product from a manufacturer, ensure its warranty and add it to the site.
"The site was developed to empower the consumers," said Khalil. "I want it to be completely demand driven."
According to Khalil, the platform is 100 percent legal. All of the featured products are sold throughout the world in Europe and the U.S., either through white labeling or through resellers and distributors. WholeSplit only sources products that carry the required certifications for insurance, he added.
"It's essentially like someone buying one large order from Alibaba or whatever portal you'd like, and then reselling here in the States. Except it's crowdsourced, much cheaper, more efficient and more fun," said Khalil.
Once a minimum order fulfillment is met, Khalil said it takes about three weeks for buyers to receive their items. He hopes to get that number down to two weeks as user velocity increases.
Khalil said WholeSplit plans to launch a regional marketing campaign over the next couple weeks, followed by a national campaign a month after if all goes well. The company is currently raising funds and plans to hire additional developers once capital is secured.
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