Deshi Singh is the Founder and CEO of Apricot, a high-growth venture-backed e-commerce start-up that is revolutionizing the way we shop and earn. A seasoned entrepreneur and former Morgan Stanley investment banker, she launched Apricot in 2020 with the goal of disrupting the online customer acquisition model via technology that enables authentic referrals.

The concept is simple but transformative: a lifestyle shopping platform where people curate “Collections” of their favorite products and earn cash for both shopping and sharing. With Apricot, companies find new customers via trusted word-of-mouth (more powerful than any ad could ever be), while shoppers discover products and brands they love. Apricot and its brand partners allow all consumers (and not just social media influencers) to monetize the real-life influence they have among their family, friends, and broader networks. Apricot is currently in beta, with a wider rollout planned for 3Q 2022.

In addition to launching Apricot, Deshi continues her commitment to philanthropy and impact investing, supporting various initiatives in education, sustainability, and advocacy for women and children. She is currently president of the Singh Foundation, an advisor to the Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle, and a board member of Chefs for Impact.

Tell us more about why you decided to start Apricot, and what makes it different from other e-commerce platforms.

Honestly, I was overwhelmed by stuff. There was so much of it, on every website, and during the pandemic, I didn’t have time to do the research. I was pregnant with my third child and just wanted someone to tell me what to buy. So, I asked a few friends. Then I thought… wow, I’d like to filter everything I buy through my friends’ recommendations! I also felt like companies should be paying my friends for their time, research, and recommendations.

What kinds of brands do you feature on the site?

This is one of the most exciting things for me about Apricot. It started out as an idea that was all about our unique recommendation and rewards model. But I realized I’m equally interested in curating an amazing selection of ethical lifestyle products all in one place. We refer to them as products with purpose. Many of our brands are conscious, cruelty-free, and/or female-and-BIPOC-owned businesses.

Our founders inspire me on a daily basis. And I get so excited by the thought that we’re introducing them to new consumers who will love them as much as I do. Apricot is a one-stop-shop for people who want to spend their dollars in a conscious way, investing in brands they can trust, that are helping make the world a better place.

How is Apricot able to offer rewards to members?

It’s really about the personal relationship we have with all these brands. They know the value of recommendations. They know that your friend recommending their product to you is so much more valuable than any Instagram ad they could invest in. We work with them to give you a significant cut. It’s not a gift—it’s a reward for the real value you’re offering their business.

Tell me about the community aspect of Apricot.

We’re currently building out a content platform through our blog, Take a Bite. Our goal is to highlight inspiring entrepreneurs and share learnings that encourage our members to pursue their dreams. We want to elevate small businesses and inspire the creation of new ones. Our community is all about supporting each other to shop consciously and invest in a better tomorrow. And helping each other get paid! 

What was it like launching a business during the pandemic?

It wasn’t easy and it’s still not—I’m sure a lot of people can relate! I work from home with a global team. I have developers in Ukraine that we’re trying our best to support. That certainly puts my day-to-day struggles into perspective. Ultimately, I feel so inspired by this mission and so grateful to do this work, and for the support of our investors who believe in us.

How are you changing the room?

Firstly, we’re getting everybody paid for their influence, not just influencers. We’re recognizing people for work that has previously been unpaid. And by featuring only conscious brands, we’re helping lead the way towards a more sustainable future. In a way we’re taking on the entire e-commerce space, which I feel no longer serves consumers, brands, or the environment.

We’re also offering investors a chance to be part of a company that is changing the way we all shop. These are needed changes and I’m so proud to be helping bring them about.