August 12th, 2013 E-commerce Alley
On Monday, August 12, 2013, OLC attended E-Commerce Alley, featuring threetech startup founders, Katie Finnegan of Hukkster, Jill Sherman of Modalyst and Sari Biliowicz of Bib + Tuck.
If Sex and the City were set in New York circa Silicon Alley 2013, they could be tech startup founders named Katie Finnegan, Jill Sherman and Sari Bibliowicz.
Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda would actually have a hard time making ends meet after the economy tanked in 2008, especially Carrie whose job as a journalist would have been disrupted by now by, say, a tech startup?! The TV show is dated.
With these new tech startup founders, the TV show could just as well be called Tech and the City. Samantha would complete the quorum, although this time she’d be making more productive use of her excess energy. As a publicist, Samantha can help the three women get some much-needed media mileage to promote their sites.
The three she will be promoting are Finnegan, the co-founder of Hukkster, Sherman the co-founder of Modalyst and Bibliowicz the co-founder of Bib + Tuck. They were the panelists at the E-Commerce Alley meetup organized by Ben Stein and Chad Rubin last August 12 at the City Winery in Varick St.
Finnegan recalls her early start when she left her job in corporate retail along with co-founder Erica Bell. The two said goodbye to corporate employee discounts for something much better up their sleeves.
Following Gilt’s success in the subscription-shopping service, the two pushed the envelope with a “bookmarklet”— what you pin on top of your web browser, similar to Pinterest’s system. As you shop for deals online, you press the “hukk it” button or bookmarkelt to start tracking items you want to buy at a reasonable price. Prices are tracked for marked items and email notifications come to you when the price of the item drops. They raised $250,000 in seed funding.
The next panelist, Sherman, had logged in 11 years in the luxury sector of retail and editorial fashion before she embarked on Modalyst with co-founder Alain Miguel. Her love for discovering new brands and independent fashion led to her founding of the online curated marketplace.
From inventory orders, now there’s the experience of collective buying, where boutique buyers can try out new brands with less restrictive minimum orders, raise their purchasing power collectively to compete with big retailers, and buy regularly instead of seasonally.
What’s their marketing approach? Rather than promote the company, they make use of social media to highlight their brands and boutiques. Sherman is most satisfied about the high-touch process of direct personal interaction with boutiques and designers.
Modalyst was funded by family and friends, but they are working on getting in touch with investors..
Barter is sexy for Bibliowicz and the members-only community Bib + Tuck she cofounded with her namesake, Sari Azout, a former trader. “We bring together the hippest people so that each can find the new in another’s old.”
In the last two years, secondhand marketplaces with fashionable leanings have made it increasingly easy to buy and sell secondhand apparel and accessories online.
But where others have little regard for quality, the two Saris said their items are more upscale. The site allows members to upload images of items they would like to barter with an option to exchange for a virtual currency called “bucks..” Bib + Tuck earns from a flat shipping fee paid per item, and it also sells bucks in small increments to members who need more than they have on hand.
Bib + Tuck is making secondhand classy. High-profile names keep the site interesting, which draws interest among those curious to know who want to let go of their precious luxury brands. You know who’s scouring the site if not the Sex and the City women emboldened by the Tech and City women.