Shopping for swimsuits is one of those things that is difficult to shop for whether you are in store or online. You’re never sure if you are getting a good fit or what it will look like in a few weeks when you are out on the beach. NYC startup Andie solves this problem once and for all. The direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand offers swimsuits made from material specifically created to fit every size and body shape. Founder and CEO Melanie Travis has built a wealth of expertise in building better consumer experiences through past experience at Foursquare, Kickstarter, and Bark&Co, partnered with one of the largest global swimsuit manufacturers, and she is intimately familiar with the frustrations in swimsuit shopping. Armed with this knowledge, Andie is suited to offer the most seamless swimsuit shopping you’ll ever experience.
AlleyWatch chatted with Travis to learn more about the company, its origin, future plans, and its most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a $2 million seed, and the round was led by partners from Two River Capital and Sonostar Ventures
Tell us about Andie.
Andie is a modern, customer-centric solution to the broken process of swimwear shopping. The swimwear industry – a $20+ billion global market – still exhibits low e-commerce penetration, despite the fact that women rank in-person swimwear shopping as one of the worst consumer experiences. Andie is a direct-to-consumer brand that, by cutting out retail middlemen, offers designer-quality products at accessible prices.
What inspired you to start Andie?
Swimwear is a category that has always frustrated me. I have constantly struggled to find a swimsuit that feels age appropriate, price appropriate, is easy to shop for, and easy to wear. And as someone who has built my whole career making better consumer experiences (I worked at Foursquare, Kickstarter, and Bark & Co), I really wanted to fix swimwear shopping. I finally took the plunge to start Andie after a particularly dreadful experience looking for a one-piece swimsuit.
We sell directly to consumers and have eliminated retail middlemen, which allows us to offer luxury products at accessible prices. Swimwear shopping is uniquely poised for disruption because women currently regard it as one of the most frustrating and demoralizing in-person shopping experiences. At Andie, we offer a customer-centric, try-at-home approach that has been thoughtfully designed for the modern shopper.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The global market for swimwear is $28 billion, with 14% e-commerce penetration. This makes the near-term addressable market for Andie nearly $4 billion. Driven by strong tailwinds including a growing travel and leisure market and rapidly rising e-commerce penetration, our addressable market is expected to grow at an 11% CAGR over the next 10 years.
What’s your business model?
Our business model is delightfully simple: we sell swimsuits.
What was the funding process like?
It was long, and felt painful at times, but once I met the right investors it happened really quickly. I spent too much time trying to convince investors who weren’t excited that this was a good opportunity. Lesson learned: if someone isn’t excited, move on.
It also helped that we already had a brand and great traction – in the first six months of launching we sold to women in all 50 states and multiple countries. Investors could see, beyond our own words about it, the deep connection we were building with consumers.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The vast majority of investors are men, and unfortunately a lot of men are scared of investing in a product or business that they’re not familiar with. I got warm intros and sent cold emails to at least 100 investors, and only a small handful would even take a meeting with me. Finding the right investors who were jazzed about Andie and what we were building was challenging, but once I found them, they were pretty much all-in from the beginning.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We struck a partnership with one of the world’s largest swimwear manufacturers which both really helps our margins and our ability to accelerate product development. Investors were really excited about this partnership. When you marry a best-in-class e-commerce startup with an incumbent that has a great supply chain, you get something that investors rally behind.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Key milestones on the horizon include the launch of exciting new products, expansion of the Andie core team, and an enhanced e-commerce experience that builds on the company’s current cutting-edge offering.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
My advice is to do as much as you can and be as scrappy as possible. I’m really glad that I hadn’t raised capital in the first year of running my business because I made a lot of mistakes, but they were small so no one noticed. If we’d had more money, those mistakes would have been a lot more impactful (and noticeable). Embrace the ability to try things and fail – you’ll learn more from failing than anything else, and without fresh capital, mistakes are far less noticeable.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re excited to introduce more products, to continue to invest in creating a best-in-class consumer experience, and to grow internationally.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Santina in the Meatpacking District. It always feels like summer there!