Have you ever been wandering in a thrift shop and you double take when you discover an item you’ve been searching for, for years? That nostalgia is being recreated at TrueFacet where you can look for pre-owned high quality jewelry at low prices. The company pre-checks and qualifies every piece that comes in so that your hunt for deals has no setbacks. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, the platform has over 50,000 items.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO and cofounder Tirath Kamdar about the startup and the company’s latest round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We just closed a $6M Series A round led by Maveron LLC. Participation included Freestyle Capital, Social Leverage, Founders’ Co-op, Trilogy and Liquid2 Ventures, owned by famed football legend Joe Montana, as well as global marketplace investors Rahul Mehta and John Lindfors.
Tell us about your product or service.
TrueFacet is the leading online destination to buy and sell authentic pre-loved designer jewelry and watches. The site currently features over 50,000 items by more than 70 leading brands including Van Cleef and Arpels, Cartier, Rolex, Patek Philippe and others. Each item sold is vetted in-house by a specialist, and goes through a rigorous authentication process before it is reaches the buyer.
What inspired you to start the company?
I became aware of the opaque nature of the jewelry business when I was working in the industry. Customers often see a number of different prices listed for the same item when shopping, and there are often questions around authenticity because over 35% of items sold in the second hand market are counterfeit. We became inspired by this problem, and TrueFacet was born. Our goal is to bring transparency to the industry; we are a trusted environment where customers can shop and sell with confidence, knowing they are buying authentic items at the best price.
How is it different?
TrueFacet differentiates itself across several key areas including breadth and depth of offering, competitive pricing, authentication, and business model. Details include:
- We focus on both jewelry and watches from the best brands in the world. There are over 25,000 timepieces listed in the marketplace by names like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Omega. We also sell new and vintage signed jewels by leading brands including Cartier, Bulgari, Van Cleef and Arpels, and much more. No other site offers this combination or has been able to grow supply as fast as TrueFacet.
- We offer the best prices to both buyers and sellers. Our unique pricing system allows us to assess broader transactional market values for jewelry and watches, and ensures that sellers are getting top value for their items.
- We prize authenticity. Each piece that is sold by TrueFacet is reviewed by our jewelry and watch experts, by hand and in person.
- We provide new value added services to buyers that other sites do not. For example, we launched an on-demand personal jewelry shopping assistant via text message. We process the request coming in via our data system and a TrueFacet concierge helps you get what you want. We’ve sourced everything from unique Cartier White Gold Diamond Love Bracelets at $45,000 to rare Patek Philippe watches at $110,000.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The global jewelry market is expected to reach $257 billion in 2017, and grow at a rate of 5% per year over the next five years. The online fine jewelry market currently accounts for 4%–5% of this, however – it is expected to grow at a much faster rate, and to capture 10% of the market by 2020. (source: Research and Markets).
What’s your business model?
Our business model is hybrid marketplace + consignment. Private individuals, dealers, and global businesses all choose TrueFacet as their trusted e-commerce platform. Most people do not want to ship their items in until it sells. We provide this service as a marketplace and allow them to ship to our expert for jewelry or watch appraisal team after it sells, providing more trust in the experience.
It only takes 60 seconds to list an item on our marketplace for selling which is very seamless for sellers.
How do you ensure authenticity on your platform?
Each piece that is sold on TrueFacet is reviewed by our in-house experts. Pieces are vetted in person, and we take great care to only sell true items. We also provide a TrueFacet certificate of authenticity.
What was the funding process like?
Our aim was to work with partners that would bring the most value add to what we’re building. We started by getting to know different investors, because for us it is all about relationships, how we get along, and the value add an investor has.
Maveron has been a lead investor for us over the last couple years and we’ve enjoyed their strong value add support. We decided that they should lead our Series A this time as well. We then brought on new investors including successful entrepreneurs, influencers, and global market investors.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Fundraising is a full-time job. I spent a lot of time getting to know different investors and then working on closing the round with the right ones. When you fundraise, you take away time spent on business strategy and operations.
In our case, we have great leadership at TrueFacet and had a plan set for how the business would be driven in key areas that I focus on. Having a great team helps!
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our consistent sales growth, retention with strong customer repeats, and our vast previous jewelry experience, combined with our technological expertise.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are using these new funds to bring on key hires and scale up growth.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
To have your key milestones established and manage burn rate. It is very important to ensure you have key metrics you are driving towards achieving and managing your costs so you can get to those key milestones.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We will continue to build and strategically drive the company to ensure the best customer experience everyday. We will launch new features and services, expand into key markets, and bring the TrueFacet offering to even more customers.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?