Elevator Pitch | Stylitics

Stylitics screenshot | Source: stylitics.com

It’s time for the third edition of Elevator Pitch, where one exceptional fashion-technology start-up pitches its business idea and receives valuable feedback from a panel of fashion, technology and investment experts, as well as the wider BoF community.

NEW YORK, United States — The fashion technology scene continues to explode, and one of the epicentres of activity is New York City. Following in the footsteps of Gilt Groupe, Moda Operandi and Warby Parker, Stylitics is a New York-based fashion technology start-up founded by Rohan Deuskar and Zach Davis which signed up more than 10,000 users in its private beta. Now Deuskar and Davis are looking raise their Series A round of funding.

What do you think of their business model?

THE PITCH

What is your business idea and what problem is it solving?
Stylitics is a behavioral data and analytics company that provides a live, interactive view into the full cycle of clothing choices by consumers. We’re like Nielsen for clothing, providing fashion brands and retailers with insights on the consumer actions that most impact their sales and marketing decisions on a daily basis, something that can be difficult for them with current data. As an SVP at Li & Fung shared, “Stylitics takes the consumer’s passion for fashion and translates that into real time data. It’s like having a real time focus group at your fingertips.”

We gather data and information through a compelling consumer platform, where consumers actively share and store clothing information, including what they are wearing and buying. Users receive benefits including rewards from brands, personalized style recommendations as well as smart, virtual wardrobe and outfit planner.

What market does it address and how big is this market?
There’s a global market for our data, though we are mostly focused on the U.S. for now. In the U.S. alone there are about 55,000 companies that have immediate applications for Stylitics insights. Companies in our pipeline include clothing brands and retailers, agencies looking for rich behavioural data, and media companies who want better audience analysis to drive ad sales. Of these, about 7,000 companies are a good match in terms of audience/customer base and budgets.

Who is your competition and how are you different/better?
The current analytics market for consumer fashion is heavily fragmented with no market leader. Competitors include: 1) market research players like NPD, who focus primarily on retail data, 2) fashion sites like Polyvore, Pose, and Snapette that are not designed from the ground up to be market research platforms, 3) fashion insights providers like WGSN who focus on qualitative trend forecasting, and 4) high-cost, one-off research performed in-house or by agencies. Our difference is that we were designed from the ground up as an analytics provider, both to clients and consumers. The data we provide is behavioural data (vs. just intent) on the consumer’s actual choices from purchase to outfits to occasion.

What is the revenue model?
We have a straightforward monthly subscription model, where clients have access to rich behaviour data on the top categories and segments that matter to them. We also do custom projects to support market entry, product launches, ad campaigns, and more. We also allow clients to selectively engage with Stylitics members for deeper insights. As our user base continues to grow and our platform gets more sophisticated, we will generate advertising and affiliate sales revenues through targeted recommendations and offers.

Who are the team that will make your idea a reality?
Our management team has award-winning expertise in relevant areas: consumer engagement, product development, game design, analytics, and B2B sales. Our CEO previously helped build a $15M/year interactive marketing business and designed the largest SMS adventure game in the U.S. for Disney. Our other co-founder has led many blue chip client accounts and has deep experience selling business services to agencies and media companies. Our product team consists of several talented developers and designers, and our advisors are analytics experts, fashion executives, professors, current and former CEOs of successful, publicly traded companies.

How much funding are you seeking and why?
We’re currently raising $1.8m to grow our technology and enhance our product. The majority of funds will go towards headcount. We have half of this round currently committed for.

THE PANEL

Ben Lerer, Founder, Thrillist and Partner, Lerer Ventures, New York
At scale, the real-time closet inventory information that you’re after is no doubt interesting, but I worry about the approach. With consumer-facing applications that are essentially being built for brands and agencies in mind first, the major concern is sustained utility and incentive at the user level. Without a critical mass of engaged users, this data set is useless, so the focus here must be on the consumer side and not the other way around. If the consumer piece is wildly successful, the valuable reports you reference will follow. Asking users to recreate their closet online and update with some frequency sounds like a big ask – out of the starting gate, how can we ensure that the user benefits will be extremely compelling and the product experience near frictionless?

Frederic Court, Partner, Advent Venture Partners, London
I like the business premise a lot. If you can create a marketplace for real-time actual opt-in data from an hyper-engaged panel sharing what they wear, how and when they combine items, that’s clearly valuable. I can see lots of ways to monetise, from selling market intelligence to brands to offering targeted promotions for merchants. I would love to see the metrics from the beta site panel. How many users? How engaged? How do you plan to grow the user base?

The big challenge I see is that the barrier to adoption is high. Why should I upload all my closet and manually enter my look of the day (I tried and found it quite time consuming)? For instance we previously backed a data business called Fizzback with the ambition to provide real time customer feedback to brands, using mobile phones. They succeeded thanks to a very low barrier to adoption, i.e. all that was required was to send feedback via a text message. How are you planning to address this challenge?

Also you refer to being an alternative to research but how can you ensure that you build a panel that represents the market as opposed to mainly super-fashion savvy early adopters? Maybe you could work directly with brands to encourage and reward customers to use your independent platform as a way to share this information across brands and accelerate your development.

Sonali de Rycker, Partner, Accel Partners, London
Stylitics is pursuing an interesting market; the consumption of fashion is moving online and is therefore trackable, and industry innovations – like fast fashion – are creating a need for real time customer feedback and analytics. That said, the space is becoming crowded and it is not clear from the pitch as to how Stylitics really differentiates itself from companies like Polyvore, which have attracted large consumer bases and mindshare. It seems like this business requires a certain critical mass to provide meaningful analytics. To strengthen the pitch, I would focus on the key differentiating features that the site will use to attract users – what is Stylitics going to do to get above the noise?

Rachel Shechtman, Founder, STORY, New York
I really like the idea…in theory. Data and analytics – bring it on! However, I do question the time intensive and potentially cumbersome process of uploading and cataloging your wardrobe. I understand your b2b market for data, but who is your consumer market – the guys and gals who will upload their closets? I may not be the market, but when I signed up it wasn’t clear what benefits I would get from this as a consumer; and when I see the feature “plan an outfit based on the weather,” why wouldn’t someone just look on their phone? Excited to see how you develop!

Imran Amed, Founder and Editor, The Business of Fashion, London
I’m a data junkie, so the idea of more data for fashion companies to make informed decisions is very appealing, especially in a sector where so many decisions are still made by gut feel alone. While intuition will always be an important part of the fashion game, having a data set as another input to consider is very exciting indeed. I also really like your on campus engagement initiatives, as I think they get to the very heart of the community that so many fashion brands are so eager to learn about, but are amongst the hardest to reach.

However, like the other panelists, my biggest concern is that users, who are now inundated with opportunities to join countless new websites and social communities every day, will balk at the idea of manually uploading every image in their closet. For those users who are the most obsessed with fashion (possibly a key target market for Stylitics) the barriers for adoption are even higher as these individuals are likely to have many more items of clothing than the average person. I encourage you to think carefully about how to streamline this sign up and uploading process.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Now, it’s your turn. What do you think about Stylitics and its potential? And what advice would you give its founders, Rohan Deuskar and Zach Davis? Let us know in the comments section, and join the conversation.

Send us your Elevator Pitch: If you have a promising business idea in the fashion-technology space or are already working on a start-up and looking to raise your profile or attract funding, send us your Elevator Pitch. We are accepting Elevator Pitches on an on-going basis, by email only, and will review the first 500 words you submit. For detailed instructions on how to submit your pitch, click here.

Elevator Pitch is a recurring feature on BoF, co-curated and developed with Rachel Shechtman.

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16 comments

  1. I’m afraid I’m not business-brained enough to have ideas further on from the (very impressive) panel, but as a consumer, social media user and fashion junkie this looks very exciting to me. Admittedly the first use would be time-consuming, uploading my entire closet – but this would quickly become another platform to waste time on, a la Pinterest and Tumblr. This, however, would save time in the long run. I often forget about items in my wardrobe (although they are right in front of me) and this would help keep viable options in the front of my mind. More like a practical friend than a fashion stylist though..!

  2. I’m afraid I’m not business-brained enough to have ideas further on from the (very impressive) panel, but as a consumer, social media user and fashion junkie this looks very exciting to me. Admittedly the first use would be time-consuming, uploading my entire closet – but this would quickly become another platform to waste time on, a la Pinterest and Tumblr. This, however, would save time in the long run. I often forget about items in my wardrobe (although they are right in front of me) and this would help keep viable options in the front of my mind. More like a practical friend than a fashion stylist though..!

  3. I have to say the project sounds really interesting. I like a lot the idea that people will actually use it and upload their wardrobe images, but I agree that this part of the process will be really challenging.
    There should be a way to pay back or give something in return to users for their time spent. I will suggest a strong engagement with one fashion brand in a project were they will choose an ambassador of the brand in a contest where the fashionista with more items of the brand will be the ambassador of the month.
    On the other hand for sure the data will be helpful, specially for product managers to determine how real has been the acceptance of items in a collection, and they can do a more accurate projection for the production of next collection.
    Usually the most frequent conversations between people working as production managers, is the amount of time spent on counting and analyzing collections for their own brand and competitors.
    Good luck!

  4. As a consumer and Fashion historian I am excited to see such a burst of interest to “serve the customer” by big companies making more informed decisions. However it is indicative of the fashion industry to decide for itself what people want. Alternately there should be a push for highlighting local and independent brands that would not get a spotlight otherwise. Most companies such as the failed Prive.com have run into problems with this aspect.

  5. Ive been reading this morning in New York Time (BOF) about this new fashion technology STYLITIC. Its a new web social media platform for fashion people and it looks very new and interesting to me. Its based on a innovative way to interact with users and the kind of info that they collect are just amazing. Ive looked into it and I find it very appealing.

    Dsq from Montreal, QC, Canada
  6. It’s amazing this start-up has even gotten this far. For starters, the “data” collected will be virtually useless because the of the providers’ own limitations — can you imagine the type of person who will sign up and put that amount of time into providing the data? What kind of person is this? Are they actually representative a wider market? Clearly not. The comparison to Nielson is also misleading because Nielson reporters no longer manually wrtie-in information in a reportering journal — Nielson uses meters attached to the TV to automate the process. The final analysis is that nobody will pay for this flawed data from the strange humans who 1) Seem to incessantly shop 2) Who have the time to send detail reports for ‘rewards’ and ‘wardrobe’ advice? Who are these people?

    David Royce from United Kingdom
  7. I think the fashion has to come first, my site of course analyses data, but this feels like an invasion of privacy, are users aware the sole purpose of the site is to sell their data??? Also upload my whole closet? who has the time? from a fashionsista that it an overwhelming task.

  8. Looks like a great start. As someone who thinks about what I’m wearing for events or nights out – what seems like all of the time, I would love a device for helping me plan or see what I’ve worn in the past. V interested to see where this goes!

    Samantha Crowe from Brooklyn, NY, United States
  9. Was really excited to read about this website as I’ve always imagined having a digital database of my wardrobe-much like Cher in Clueless (1995). However, i do agree with previous comments on the incentives provided for users and what are your retention plans? i may be very excited about this for a couple of months and then forget about it a couple of days and then suddenly lose interest altogether.

  10. I see that people do not like to upload the information for their closet. The way I see it is just another opportunity to create a hangtag barcode you can scan with your phone and instant upload…

    facebook_.100000552808164 from Laguna Hills, CA, United States
  11. As a user of this site (it was tedious to put in my closet, but if you’ve used Polyvore or other sites it’s really no different) I just put things in as I buy them. I’m a level 20 user, meaning I have almost 200 items in my closet and have logged my outfits faithfully for a month. The site came in super handy when I was visiting my parents back at home and shopping, I can pick up a piece and check my closet to see what might match, and if it’s a justifiable purchase and I have enough ways to work it into what I own, I’ll buy it. I picked up a peach skirt wondering what I would wear with it thinking I don’t own anything that color, but Stylitics reminded me that I have an ivory silk shirt, cream tee, and a nude striped tee that would match well and I bought it. I think it does speak to brands because I’m female, 23, and make under 50K, I think that’s a market they look to saturate and they will gain valuable insight, especially when it comes to “millennial” and their habits. However, I will say I don’t feel like I’m getting anything out of the site. On Plolyvore you can click an item and see outfits others have made with it. And since other users cant see anything but your main page, whats the point? I want to see other peoples closets, what they wear with unique pieces, and how they’d wear something in my closet. The statistics and analytics aren’t even visible on my page yet, which is a bummer. They also need to work on their ‘rewards’ approach, all this work I’ve done and nothing? Not even a coupon code for 10% off an online retailer or partner? They need stronger relationships with their brands and need to make rewards for more than just contest winners, especially since the data they will derive from me is going to pay off handsomely. Love the hangtag barcode idea! It’s also unfortunate that when you check in what you wear you can’t really check in multiple outfits (day/night or beach/dinner) its all mashed into one “outfit” and confuses me.

    Elissa from Cambridge, MA, United States
  12. Like many of the panelist, I think this is a good idea…with some additions. The pitch only addresses one of its two target markets – businesses, so it’s hard to evaluate. As it stands their potential user growth is limited. If Stylitics can streamline the uploading process and create a space where people can tell their style stories, it could grow their customers to create better data. To do this, the platform needs stronger network affects (a buzz word, but the truth). They could increase the network through a sharing component that allows users to tell their style story. That story can be followed by friends, followers, etc, which can boost the user numbers. Otherwise, partner with stylists that users can follow. In addition to NPD, Neilson, etc. their competitors are also e-commerce sites, like Gilt Groupe, that have consumer insights for millions of followers. With that in mind, it may be interesting to not only manage your wardrobe, but also add to it through direct connection to brand and/or retail sites (an added B2B incentive).

    Dorian from Baltimore, MD, United States
  13. There is a fashion based social network company, here in San Francisco, that offers somewhat similar, i.e. downloading your stuff in the online profile: http://www.closetcouture.com They started back in 2008 or something like that. Their look&feel is not nearly as fancy as Stylitics, but they should be carefully studied. Stylitics did not mention them in the competition section.

  14. The platforms many benefits for businesses to get the latest consumer trends, etc. but it depends on a massive consumer base for valuable insights. Photographing and updating your entire wardrobe is a concept I was exposed to at a self-quantified group, that is people who track themselves for self-improvement. Fashion addicts however may enjoy taking pictures of themselves in their outfits to show off their styling skills, share product pics, but they’re not gonna to the hard work of photographing their wardrobe. Also, the average consumer’s wardrobe consists of a lot of basics…which isn’t that glamorous to really share.

  15. Question to BofF: Will Stylitics provide responses to the panel’s questions and concerns? I am curious to see what kind of audience numbers they have because I also wonder how they are going to get scale in this.

    Christine from Brooklyn, NY, United States
  16. in addition to the app i think you should have an option for luxury consumers or purchasers of high ticketed items or stylists. When you see a high ticked item you can add it in to your wardrobe and then see how many ways you could potentially wear the item before you buy it,

    based on classic and trend, the average wears of a high ticked item on trend would be a lot higher than a high ticketed item on classic. this then potentially works out the cost of each wear. Based on you coordinating with your current wardrobe.

    Start with jeans.. staple classic wardrobe item

    example:
    Burberry black trench price £1195 say for example the person has 200 items in their closet. Item is black so the would be on a high matching scale than say a pink item,
    Burberry is a luxury brand so longevity of the item would be longer as compared to a high street brand so say 3 years. divided that by say you may wear it 2 times a week for maybe 6 month, work out the total cost of your purchase. call it justify my purchase

    especially as one of things that stop people buying this item is can ‘i justify it.’ IT may slightly change the the standing of the app, but it’s a way for brands to engage with the customer

    also, somehow it would be good if the item said how many times you have worn the item via social media networks. as a female you don’t want to be wearing the same item and uploading multiple pics of the same item of clothing on fb or other social network sites. That is unless you are a fashion blogger

    Hopefully this makes some sort of sense

    p.s market exchange so people can sell or swap there least worn items…in order to buy an item, a bit like an online swap shop.
    Users would be more interested in sharing their new items of they were given a discount code for a brand, may increase customer retention.

    krissi boakye from United Kingdom