The $1BN GMV Livestreaming Startup You’ve Never Heard Of

In China, livestream commerce is a $60B market and growing.  Think QVC but interactive, mobile, and highly entertaining.  Ever since Connie Chan’s illuminating post on China’s livestreaming boom, there’s been ongoing debate as to whether or not livestream commerce will catch on with the US consumer.  Will she or won’t she buy?  It’s the perpetual question.

Let’s put this debate to rest.  

Most folks haven’t yet heard of CommentSold.  It’s based in Huntsville, Alabama.  Its founder, Brandon Kruse, is quiet on social media.  And yet, he’s quietly built a powerhouse supporting over $1Billion of livestream GMV.  Yes, you heard that right.

I first ran across CommentSold over the winter holidays.  I was on my couch doomscrolling through Facebook when I noticed a particular trend:  Small boutique owners and resellers, mainly women, hosting livestreams across a wide range of categories from candles to jewelry to clothing.  And their audiences were tuning in daily to engage, interact, and shop - often after dinner or after the kids were asleep. | | 

In the left corner of these livestreams, I noticed the same “Comment” callout.  Having worked at FB, I knew this wasn’t a FB call to action.  Intrigued, I tracked down the origins of “comment selling”, and came upon CommentSold.  

Simply put, CommentSold provides custom checkout and unified invoicing and order management to allow small business owners to easily sell across multiple platforms, whether that’s social channels (FB Live, FB Groups, and IG), an eCommerce webstore or their own branded mobile app through CommentSold.

Having been raised in the south and midwest, I recognize these small business owners.  They may have started their boutiques as side-hustles to supplement their family income, but many are now running full-time businesses.  And with stores closed and everyone cooped up at home, it was clear why they’d jumped online and brought their audiences with them.  

Their livestreams feel intriguingly personal - sometimes a husband or the kids pops by to say hello.  There are inside jokes starting to form amongst the members.  Judging by the comments, you sense the audience is decompressing with some wine on tap.  Or maybe that’s just me.

So what can we learn from CommentSold and Brandon’s success?  

1/ Livestream commerce fulfills an emotional need for American consumers.  Let’s put that debate to rest.  And instead move on to the more interesting question of how it’ll morph and expand in the US, whether as standalone entities or as part of broader social platforms.

2/ Small businesses are increasingly savvy, and in some cases leapfrogging larger brands in discovering and mining new channels.  They are multi-platform sellers and they’re not going back.  They’re no longer content to rely on their physical stores - they’re quickly spreading their presence across multiple platforms and multiple mediums.

3/ Fantastic founders aren’t bound by geography.  They don’t need to live in SF, NY, Austin or even Miami.  Let’s find them and fund them.  I grew up in Nashville and Peoria.  My friends and neighbors were just as smart & interesting with unique viewpoints as the folks I met later in life in New York and San Francisco. 

If you’re like Brandon and quietly building against an audacious goal with seeds of momentum, I’d love to hear from you!  You can reach me 

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Btw, if you’re looking to join a fast-paced startup, CommentSold is hiring!  All jobs remote across engineering, product, marketing, and ops.