Co -founders of Refinery 29, an online fashion media and e-commerce company, Philippe Von Borries and Justin Stefano are widely regarded as digital pioneers, credited with being some of the first to converge content, community and commerce. Counting over 30 million unique visitors per year eight years after its launch, the company’s valuation currently stands at an estimated $100 million. In May 2013, Refinery 29 acquired start-up Socialbomb. In July 2013 a revamped website was unveiled featuring a new lifestyle based layout with added navigation and ‘shop it now’ buttons. The site is built on underlying technology that reads user preferences and helps personalise content.
Finance graduates from New York University and Columbia University respectively, Philippe and Justin launched the website in 2004 as a localised New York guide for independent boutiques and shops. Raising initial capital from retailer Steven Alan, owner of a Showroom boutique they had featured in their guide, the pair quickly created an online marketplace for New York based stores such as Atelier, Number Nine and In God We Trust. Strong advertising revenue bolstered the sites growth in the early years, while continued focus on creating unique editorial content with an emphasis on style, community and trending stories helped grow the sites popularity. In 2010 the duo also introduced vouchers and locally focused flash coupon sales.