An Interview With Ryan Charles, CEO of Consmr

Ryan Charles is the CEO of Consmr, a social site where users can share their thoughts and experiences on everyday grocery and drug store products. Learn what’s hot and what’s not in consumer packaged products – from beverages to makeup to skin care. Users can rate and check in to products as well as and earn badges on Consmr.com. They are looking for enthusiastic users, interns, and developers. He will be presenting at the upcoming NY Tech Mixer Demo & Drinks event on January 18th.

What is your company/service?

Consmr is a resource for reviews and social sharing on the products you find in your fridge, medicine cabinet, and pantry. Users are encouraged to rate as well as “check in” to groceries or sundries. Reviews and check-ins can be broadcast to Twitter and Facebook, allowing the conversation around products to continue with your friends. All of these actions unlock badges that reflect a user’s contributions or their expertise in a product category.

Tell me how it all started, where did your vision/inspiration come from?

Over the past year I had several grocery and drug store shopping experiences where I was disappointed with the products I purchased. These included bulk purchases from a warehouse club, frozen foods from a grocery store, and personal care products from my local drugstore. Each time I realized there was no obvious forum for reviews of consumer packaged goods and yet so many other categories like restaurants, electronics, and movies all have well-known web resources.

It was amazing to me that consumer products are still a trial and error purchase. Coming from a background in the local review space, I began thinking about how to build a resource for products in today’s open world. I realized that the conversation around products had to reflect this openness and extend to social networks. I’ve been scheming with my Co-Founder, Noah Zitsman, since the days we were playing Super Metroid. Once I pitched him the idea, we started right away.

Why does the world need your product? Why now?

I believe that web users have finally become accustomed to leaving reviews and feedback for everything they do. People are more openly sharing their opinions on a myriad of topics, sharing more about themselves, and with Facebook “likes”, they’re endorsing pretty much anything that can be shared on the web. At the same time, I increasingly hear about the various needs relating to consumer goods like gluten-free, skin sensitivity, organic products, green products – and the list goes on and on.

Consmr.com is constructed to answer those questions and to allow users to broadcast their interactions with products. Ultimately we’re taking advantage of an established user habit (writing reviews) and then extending the conversation to your friends.

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Try not to get too distracted by the prospects of conferences, investors, or anything else that isn’t directly related to your business. You can end up second-guessing yourself, wondering what you need to do to get their attention, and you can easily lose focus. Give your business the attention it needs so you can get your minimum viable product out the door.

What’s one thing people should know about you?

I’m a big fan of animated shows. My favorites range from cartoons from the 80’s (think Transformers & Voltron) to modern day animated shows. You’ll see some inspiration from those shows with Consmr’s badges, among other things. My hope is that someone unlocks a badge and it brings a smile to their face.

This upcoming gathering, being a Demos and Drinks event, we have to ask: what’s your favorite drink?

I’m partial to Raspberry Arizona Iced Tea.

Ryan Charles will be providing a demo at NY Tech Mixer’s January 18th event at Crimson. Visit NYTechMixer.com to RSVP.

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