It’s not uncommon to feel a little jealous after a nice newsfeed scrolling session on virtually any social media platform. From pants to shoes to blouses to suits you may have the impulse to self loathe when instead you should check out Project September. The company is making nearly all clothing shoppable by simply clicking on the item, and can save you the headache of going to Amazon to try to find exactly those shoes on your newsfeed. So quit having to look for what you like, and start clicking away.
We spoke with CEO and cofounder Alexis Maybank about her company’s recent fundraising as well as what she gained while working as a Gilt executive.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We are thrilled to have support from investors like William Morris Endeavor (WME Ventures), Venrock, Greylock Partners, First Round Capital, Montage Ventures, among others, in our seed round. At this time, we’re not disclosing the amount raised.
Tell us about your product or service.
Project September is a mobile visual shopping app that allows a deeper, more immediate connection between fashion and design influencers, their audiences and the brands they love. For the first time ever, consumers can bridge the gap between online shopping and social browsing by tapping an image to instantly make a purchase. Users can scroll through their feeds to explore and discover through images and buy items they like. As we get started, we’ll be mainly featuring women’s and men’s apparel, accessories and beauty products. Creators, we call them editors, can curate images to generate a magazine-like spread. They can tap on any element of their photo to tag the item with a link to its retailer web site. Tagged items are marked with Project September’s signature green dot. When items are purchased from an editor’s spread, they’ll earn a commission from the sale.
What inspired you to start the company?
As former Gilt executives, my Co-founder Leah Park and I noticed an increase in web traffic coming to Gilt.com from social media platforms. We realized that consumers were discovering products that piqued their interest but were unable to easily move from social browsing to shopping and instantly purchase. We set out to make the visual world shoppable, teaming with our Co-founder Dustin Whitney to build a strikingly beautiful, visual marketplace where fashion’s devotees could follow their favorite influencers, swipe from image to image, and easily tap to buy.
How is it different?
Project September lets users connect online shopping and social browsing. With the app’s sleek design and easy-to-use interface, users see an image they like and tap to purchase.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting social media influencers and mobile shoppers in the market for fashion and design products. The market is massive, and it’s growing more each day.
What’s your business model?
We take a commission on product sold through our platform that we share with influencers.
What was the funding process like?
Our process was smooth overall, and we are very fortunate. We raised our seed round in the fall from institutional investors and strategic investors.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Surely the biggest challenge for startups right now is the overall environment in which they are raising funding. With that said, we’ve been very fortunate in our journey. We have a seasoned team with a solid track record.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Two of our investors were involved early at Gilt also, Nick Beim of Venrock and Susan Lyne of BBG Ventures. We have a good history of working together. In addition all the investors believed there was open space to be filled in the market and were excited by the user experience we were building for consumers and creators alike.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
To build a compelling experience where hundreds of thousands of individual creators and shoppers are sharing style ideas and creative visuals that are instantly shoppable.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Well all entrepreneurs should find ways to be frugal and scrappy overall; some ideas include — Apply to GCT for a great support network and a year of free rent, evaluate your market spend and ROI, build your team slightly behind the curve so you are not hiring too many too fast, etc.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’ll continue to broaden our influencer community, bringing more users, influencers and retailers onto the platform within the fashion and design space. We will continue to push the envelope on creative ways to bring photography to life in the ways you cannot do on the print pages of a magazine, and pioneer a new form of visual shopping.
Where is your favorite bar in the city for an after work drink?
Soho House rooftop, especially during this time of year!