The Washington Post

How two start-ups marketed their business to consumers

Some start-ups find it easier to market to other businesses than to consumers. Here are the experiences of two women who have worked in the Washington region’s business-to-business sector:

Lisa Morales-Hellebo, Shopsy

The idea for Shopsy came to founder Lisa Morales-Hellebo in a dream, and within a few months the former Wheaton resident had patented a “semantic commerce platform.” Using an algorithm, this site can create different groups of goods based on parameters – color, price, and style, for instance. For example, a user could create a $3,000 outfit from items found online, and then create a $300 version using Shopsy.

Initially Shopsy targeted consumers, but failed to get sufficient traction. After her start-up was accepted into Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based start-up support group, she realized it could be more useful to businesses looking to present their merchandise online. Today, Morales-Hellebo is working to revamp Shopsy to highlight its business-to-business focus — and hopes to generate more revenue by targeting retailers.

Marlena Edwards, iPitchTech

D.C. native Marlena Edwards is starting a business to help other tech entrepreneurs start their own. By putting their start-up ideas on her site, founders will be able to ask for small amounts of funding from many donors in a process called crowdfunding.

IPitchTech is intended to help struggling start-ups raise capital, and Edwards’ decision to start during the economy’s slow recovery is intentional — she hopes to create jobs for entrepreneurs who haven’t found angel investors or other help.

Edwards is familiar with the challenges of starting out – several years ago, she obtained a patent for a Global Positioning System tracking device for pets and animals, but found the patent process to be very expensive. Still, she succeeding in bringing it to market with moderate success — the item was featured on QVC.

Show Comments

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.