Since 2008, the Style Coalition has hosted Fashion 2.0 meetups – events designed to bring together professionals involved in online fashion. For their 5th anniversary, 10 entrepreneurial members involved in everything from apps to ad agencies presented their fashion tech products. Time was limited to seven minutes, which included presentation time and feedback from audience members, and a panel composed of Lauren Indvik, an Associate Business Editor for Mashable, Murat Aktihanoglu, the Managing Director of ER Accelerator and Sim Blaustein, a Principal at Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments. As Blaustein noted, some companies are further along than others. Below, the companies are ordered from newest to oldest:
TheTrendsGirl (2013) – A subscription-based company that sends out three pieces of jewelry for $39/month, TheTrendsGirl launched their first box just this month. Panelists asked if women had a choice of what went into a box. So far, the beta testers get to send their input on the items already chosen, and if they miss a month’s box, they can later choose to buy the jewelry from that set.
Reprisal (2013) – This startup aggregates data across multiple merchants to create a blacklist of fraudsters – customers to avoid. They focus on shipping and email addresses and cell phone numbers to help identify fraudsters. According to founder Erik Lautier, there hasn’t yet been another company that has used merchant data in this manner to help stop the fraud problem. Lautier was asked how he would profit from this and said once there is a large enough database, real-time payments could be checked on an API – an additional feature that merchants could get, if they wanted an instant result.
Rank & Style (2013) – Think of Rank & Style as the first consumer reports for women, said co-founder Sarika Doshi. The company uses an algorithm that searches and indexes publicly available information on consumer behaviour. From this, they attempt to create specific and objective top 10 lists and highlight the dimensions of the algorithm where the product scored highest (price or buzz for example). The company was asked about their mobile strategy and said that while they are in the process of becoming mobile-optimized, they are currently contemplating partnering with multi brand retailers who would let them sell the products that are scientifically proven to be the best.
Ahalogy (2012) & Krupp Group – An “interest marketing service,” Ahalogy analyzes and interprets Pinterest data to help brands better utilize that platform. The Krupp Group is a public relations team who wishes to use their experience in the fashion space and combine it with Ahalogy’s technology to better promote items during and after Fashion Week. What most concerned the panel was that Ahalogy only focuses on one platform. The Krupp Group mentioned that during Fashion Week, they will compile all the real-time Instagrams, tweets, etc. from fashion influencers and push them through on Pinterest,, based on Ahalogy’s suggestions.
ZaoZao (2012) – A Hong-Kong based e-commerce crowd-funding platform to discover emerging designers based in Asia, ZaoZao is visiting NYC for an accelerator program this summer. They sell one-of-a-kind pieces only after enough pre-orders are received. Panelists suggested beginning their presentation with a focus on their foundation story and highlight more products..
StyleShoots (2011) – StyleShoots is a fashion photo machine operated via an iPad. It can be rented by the hour or day for about $5 a photo, or purchased for $85,000. The panel suggested lowering their price point in order to appeal to more customers and to include pricing data in future presentations so that retailers could get a sense of how much they would save if they took a certain volume of images.
Brayola (2011) – So that the mixed-gendered audience understood the difficulties that women face in finding the right bra, Brayola gave the following example: Guys – try to imagine you need to buy a condom, but you need to go into a store to find a fit. For that, you need to get measured. Brayola attempts to make the bra-finding experience easier by providing personalized recommendations, based on data of bras you currently own and styles desired. The panelists praised Brayola for their creative pitch, but raised concerns over who their market was and if it was big enough to warrant venture backing. In response, founder Orit Hashay said their market is indeed big, since they appeal to women of all sizes and ages. Hashay also said that 70% of users are active and visit on a weekly basis.
Mimoona (2011) – This company seeks to let fashion brands forecast demand for their products before production. Mimoona integrates a crowd-funding functionality on the brand’s site and says customers will want to use it because of the lower price for products, as well as the appeal to customers to be the first to use a new design. Co-founder Nadav Moser was asked if he was worried about companies getting so big that they would branch out on their own and no longer crowd-source. In response, Moser said that Mimoona would still provide useful data on upcoming fashion trends.
Wishi (2011) – Wishi was created to solve the problem of having loads of clothes in your closet and finding nothing to wear. Users take a snapshot of their clothes or save images of items bought online to add to their virtual closet, and can then get crowd-sourced styling advice. Revenue is gained through advertising, promoting brand-usage frequency deals for users and having companies dress fashion influencers and pay per styling. Their next goal is to scan labels to input clothes, which they hope to achieve once they get more users. As of now, however, they’re already going strong with beta 40,000 users.
Olapic (2010) – This tech platform runs on the idea that customers are motivated and inspired more by other customers. The company lets a site collect, display and measure crowd-sourced photos and videos. According to Nicole Tiberia, Brand Strategist at Olapic, after one of their partners integrated Olapic’s tools, the average time a customer spent on their site doubled from eight minutes to 16 minutes. A question was raised about copyright issues, but according to Tiberia, all photos are linked back to the original users and images are only pulled from public profiles.
Some final remarks from the panel included Aktihanoglu questioning the scalability of companies that ran manual campaigns, while Blaustein suggested that inspiration- and discovery-based companies focus on presenting more data to see if they’re gaining traction with their users.
For Indvik, the common problem startups have is overcomplicating their concept because of their desire to appear different. In the end, what works best for her is sticking to simplicity:
“You should be able to pitch your idea in three minutes. You really should be able to pitch your idea in three sentences, to consumers.”
Photo Credit: Style Coalition