Never Ask for Permission - Build Your Startup by Skipping the Line

Alexis Ohanian’s book Without Their Permission chronicles the early development and rapid rise of Reddit. Reddit became the front page of the internet because Alexis and Steve said fuck it, let’s do it.

Alexis asserts in his book that the future will be made by those who create products people love, and do so without looking for the approval of the established.

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Reddit cofounder Alex Ohanian. Likes beer, lobbying governments, and not asking for permission. Not necessarily in that order.

This is an incredibly powerful realization. We are trained from an early age to follow the worn path. Walk in orderly fashion, stay to the right. Guess what. It’s pretty clear that the quickest way to the front of the line is to go left and pass everyone by. 

My personal mantra has been to do what I believe in, and do it without permission. If you have good ideas, and execute clearly on them and in good faith, then the outcomes often play in your favour. This is certainly how we operate at Dash Hudson.

Asking merely slows things down or gets you into trouble.

Last week, I had a discussion with an interesting founder. He was prepared, knew his business, had a good sales pitch. But when I dug in on his go to market, it involved working through some of the slowest partners around.

Fuelled by a few pints, we worked through an alternative experiment that would make the customer love him, lower his acquisition costs and DEFINITELY piss off the same partner he was trying to work through. It was mostly a thought experiment, but made me pause to reflect how almost every critical business decision can be made to act with, or without, someone’s permission.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself when determining if you need to ask for permission:

1. Do I need money to get started on this?

Needing money means asking someone for the permission to get started, An investor, a boss, a friend. You often don’t need money to get started. You need hustle and motivation. If you can get started without asking for money, do that. 

2. Do I need to partner with ‘X’ to succeed?

Partnerships too early in the development of a company slow down development. I’ve seen it. Not because the partnerships don’t have potential long-term value, but because the partner doesn’t care nearly as much about your business as you do. Begging and borrowing take time. Take what you need from the world. Don’t ask. 

3. Will this piss somebody off?

You’re not pushing hard enough and creating enough new value if you aren’t going to make someone (a competitor or incumbent, hopefully) extremely upset. If you can piss a few people off with a great product built without their permission, you’re probably on the right track.

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Eric Cantona, one of my favourite soccer players of all time, never asked anyone for permission. Of course he also karate kicked a fan in the face that one time…

In the nascent life of a company, where every day spent without significant progress is a day you are closer to death, the route of independence and speed wins.

Always go left and skip the line.

3 Lessons in Product Management Learned on the Fly

A skill learned without practice is often a lost skill. For instance, in my time as a VC I spent lots of time reading about product management and helping companies sort through product challenges. But until I managed my own product, those learnings were largely superficial.

Here are three things I’m learning (on the fly) about product management:

1. Speed Wins but Coordination is Key

At Dash Hudson we move extremely fast on product development, often pushing app updates (to both android and iOS) three to four times per week. Our torrid pace is part of who we are, but the need to coordinate when moving at high speeds is especially important. We have learned that by times, a stop, deep breath and reconsideration of the dev plan is required, before jumping back on the interstate.

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Destroy your competition with speed, but stop and look around once in a while or the carnage will be yours.

2. User Feedback + Data = Good Decision-Making

Sounds pretty self-explanatory, right? The real lesson we learned is that, while it’s important to show your early users tons of love (do things that don’t scale), be careful what you listen to. We almost made a significant product decision based solely on user feedback that would have required a week of build time and had additional product repercussions. Users were screaming. But when we checked the data, it showed that what users were telling us was absolutely not true. Their real behavior told the truth that they were activating at very high rates. 

3. Thinking Your Product is Ugly is Normal

A friend recently asked me what the biggest surprise was about launching a product. This may sounds a bit self-gratuitous, but the truth is I was surprised at how much users (seemingly) liked the UI/UX. In our eyes, the product is ugly, we’re never satisfied. Lesson is don’t be so hard on yourself, and thinking your product is ugly is normal. 

Lots more challenges ahead and lots more to learn. Until then, that’s it. 

Five (FRESH) Lessons on Startup Launch PR

It’s been four days since Dash Hudson launched.

Launches are many months in the making. From ideation to market, the typical startup travels an uncertain course. The go to market phase is like running madly in a hamster ball with two giants having a kick between them. You hope at some point you get smashed in the right direction and across the goal line.

It’s best I impart these fragments of wisdom while it’s fresh; time will turn these lessons into either parody or legend, neither of which is helpful to fellow entrepreneurs.

Our goals were to be covered in three highly reputable publications (two in the fashion and lifestyle industry and one in the technology industry), and to drive traffic to start the wheel spinning.

With that, five lessons on launch PR, from a first time entrepreneur:

1. Be Nice

Overwhelmingly, people can be selfish assholes. When reaching out to an individual whom you do not know and whom is inundated on an hourly basis with desperate pleas for coverage, above all, be nice. Writers are people too. Be genuine and appreciative of the time journalists are taking to even consider your pitch. And if they are considerate enough to respond with a no, thank them for it.

2. Know Your Story Arc

We (I) initially did this poorly. I spent four full weeks trying to drum up PR for our imminent launch. I knew it would be tough, because we are an unknown team operating out of a small market. But for the first 50% of my reachouts, I did it all wrong. I pitched exactly what I wanted, which was a launch story. WRONG. Nobody cared about our launch. Why would they? What I learned through trial and error is to pitch a story, an arc. After I sorted that and really engaged people in what we were doing, it became much easier and we upped our response rate.

3. Use Hacks

There are a ton of hacks to reach writers and journalists. They’re actually pretty easy: (a) Google your competitors and find out who covered them. Super hack? Google image search your competitor’s PR photography (thanks Dan Martell for that one); (b) Look for people who care about what you do and reach out to them having genuinely researched their interests and work. Use Rapportive to figure out emails or just write every combination you can think of in bcc and send it off; and (c) Put the most compelling content in the title and the first two lines of the email because most journalists just scan the gmail preview.

4. Get Your Kit Together

Be prepared, with a tight press release and great images. This is standard advice, but truly take the time to make your package look good. Have a knowledgeable expert (I had two, thank you guys) review your release closely. If you use data in your release (I recommend) or supporting materials, make it easy on the writer and provide great source information. Help them, help you.

5. Hustle Hard and Have Hope

Many will tell you to hire a PR agency. Unless you’re an overfunded darling, keep it raw and hustle the connections yourself. You tell your story better than anyone and it gives you the opportunity to build a true relationship with a writer that can be mutually beneficial over time. Research your targets, craft your emails, leverage your connections, repeat. On your first go, push the message widely in the hope that you will get those critical and important few.

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Billy Dee got GQ, and so can you.

It was an adventure, for sure, and a ton of hard work. We’re very happy with the outcome and I’m so appreciative of those who believed enough in our story to cover the launch of an unfunded and unproven company. We had great coverage in Details, Style Bistro and Techvibes. Thanks to Chris, Katie and Rob for taking the time to write interesting pieces.

More than anything we’re happy to be out in the world. And we’re happy to have found publications and writers that care as much as we do about Dash Hudson to share the story with a wider audience. We accomplished our goals and are now on to the privileged job of delighting our customers.

If you have thoughts or lessons on launch PR, I’d love to hear them in the comment section. 

Fresh Feature: Dash Hudson by Chris Law

Dash Hudson launch story on the Details Network.

Forget YOLO. In mobile you must live twice.

YOLO was so last year. The modern day carpe diem, once shouted from the social rafters with great fervour, is now a relic, descended to the annals of the uncool. True, we do get but one life. It’s a sentiment worth pondering.

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In the high stakes mobile game a product cannot flourish unless it lives on two platforms. As a company, we forget YOLO and aggressively push to live twice.

See what I did there?

When we set out to build Dash Hudson, the first mobile-exclusive store for menswear, we did so with a winner takes all distribution state of mind. The key question: how do we get our product in front of as many target customers as possible, fast?

We carefully reviewed our platform alternatives. Web was a non-starter (like YOLO, so last year) especially with mobile traffic moving to 40% of all commerce traffic next year and roaring at 100% CAGR.

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Commerce traffic by platform (based on data by Asymco)

Android would enable us to prototype and push tests more quickly. With the arrival of the solid Nexus 5, we also predicted the trend of techno-savvy spenders switching over from iPhone to premium Android smartphones. We felt certain that a large number of our customers, young 18-30 year old guys, would eventually live there.

iPhone, however, still grips the gold standard when it comes to mobile commerce. Customers (that spend) love shopping there. Further, we had the added complexity of building a marketplace, with our amazing Style Editor community making up the supply. Dash Hudson Style Editors are young, design oriented, fashion forward and primarily female. We found that over 90% of our potential Style Editors would live on iPhone.

Dilemma.

The decision my cofounder Tomek and I made was to start with Android. Tomek’s an open source stalwart, so build with what you know. His speed at development, and our ability to do rapid iterations, enabled us to get to an MVP quickly. With enough data to support our model, we looked toward our next step. To properly launch, we would need to also build for iPhone.

This is the challenge and opportunity of building a mobile business. Building for two platforms takes more time, and adds expense to the dev line. Lucky for us, we were able to recruit the talented Shali to complete our small but mighty mobile team of three.

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Dash Hudson on iPhone

Fast forward four months (from idea to public launch, mind you) and we will soon push out Dash Hudson on two platforms. Dash Hudson will live twice. We were able to do so with a small team, a thin budget, and an aggressive timeline to market.

By building mobile first and executing on two platforms, we have developed a resilient and rich set of skills. It enables us to think strategically about not just catching the mobile wave, but accelerating it with aggressive web to mobile market pull strategies.

Would love to hear your thoughts on mobile strategy in the comment section. Or call me out if I’ve been too hard on YOLO.

 

The Rise of Fashion E-Commerce and Man’s Escape from the Mall

Hey everyone. This blog is a collection of thoughts and research compiled during some of our earliest exploration into the Dash Hudson business model. It is a collection of stats, themes and thoughts from various sources so credit mostly goes to others. We had some great contributors, so a special shoutout to you guys (especially you, K*). Please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment section.

Let’s get into it.

The Set-up

E-commerce is on a rocketship, with clothing retailers and brands using technology to create new ways to engage with customers online. In fact, clothing and accessories is the fastest growing segment of e-commerce. A study done by Emarketer projects that online sales of clothing and accessories will continue to grow year over year at a rate faster than even the electronics and books segment, with sales reaching $73 billion by 2016. The growth in fashion e-commerce is happening in spite of a traditional need for shoppers to touch fabric, assess apparel up close, and try on items for fit. So how do online stores solve these problems while also improving on the bricks and mortar shopping experience? Through creative branding, special offers, technology solutions, simple ordering and return processes, and savvy social media and marketing techniques, the fashion e-commerce market has found a way to not just replicate but improve the way people shop.

Don’t Forget the Dudes

Let’s talk about the guys. Despite the trope of women as fashion-obsessed shopaholics, men also have a desire to buy things they know they’ll look good in. However, most department stores and shopping malls are designed with the female shopper in mind, leaving men to fewer clothing options, particularly for those who are sartorially-inclined. Kanye West cares about the haute look (leather jogging pants) and a lot of other guys do too. This void, combined with growing presence of internet and mobile technology in fashion e-commerce, creates a perfect storm of opportunity for online brands and retailers that offer affordable, convenient, and fashionable options for men. According to research from Rakuten Linkshare, 83% of men surveyed prefer to shop online. Not only are men flocking to online retailers to get their new threads, but according to Chris Ventry, the general manager of Gilt Groupe’s GiltMan, men are out-shopping women by 20-30% in all areas of online shopping.

Where the Boys Are: Men’s E-Commerce Companies

A number of men’s e-commerce companies are cashing in on men’s interest in buying fashionable and trendy clothes online. Companies such as Frank & Oak, Bombfell and Trunk Club are at the forefront of offering a curated subscription service that makes shopping  efficient for guys. Trunk Club uses a series of questions and photos to get a feel for its customer’s style. The company then matches its customer to a stylist who compiles a “trunk” of clothes that are shipped to the customer’s house where he can decide what to keep and what to send back. In addition to its monthly limited edition collections, Frank & Oak offers boxes of clothes delivered straight to a ‘Hunt Club’ member’s house. Unlike Trunk Club, F&O does not involve a stylist and lets the customer choose for himself what he wants delivered. Bombfell is a new kid on the block and does subscription clothing across a variety of pricepoints. Subscription commerce has proven popular with men who wish to avoid the complex decision making involved with shopping.

Other online-exclusive fashion companies like Bonobos, Jack Threads, and Mr. Porter offer quality men’s fashion at various prices. Bonobos is for the guy who likes the crusts cut off his peanut butter sandwich, Jack Threads for the guy who likes crusty dive bars and Mr. Porter for the socialite upper crust. These companies offer current trends in men’s fashion such as fitted shirts and pants, slim ties and bow-ties, bright colors and patterns, pocket squares, fitted blazers, preppy sweaters, trendy hoodies, oxford dress shoes, classic watches, and throwback sneakers.

J.Crew is a well-known traditional unisex offline retailer that offers an expansive online selection for men. H&M, Uniqlo and Zara compete for the disposable fashion market at a lower pricepoint. Streetwear companies like Superdry, Saturdays Surf NYC, Need Supply Co., Union Made Goods, and Stussy offer casual and weekend wear for hipster dudes that take their looks seriously. For the slightly avant garde, it’s all about the Nordic brands: Matinique, Norse Projects and Selected Homme are doing some of the best work in men’s fashion today.

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Beautiful Matinique people. 

Just Show me the Good Stuff

Clearly the world has changed, as there are a growing number of fashion options for men. So many that it is easy for guys to get overwhelmed, like a child lost at Nordstrom. According to research from Rakuten LinkShare, 48% of young male shoppers between the ages of 18-25 are overwhelmed by the plethora of choices with online shopping. Refinement of those options is a serious challenge. A survey conducted by Dash Hudson indicated that more than 60% of guys aged 18-24 want social validation and recommendations before buying. This contrasts with women, where over 75% want to discover content on their own. Guys readily admit that they need help looking good, and want guidance on what to buy.

For the sartorially interested male, the growth in popularity of social commerce sites has been a mixed blessing. Pinterest launched in 2010, giving consumers the ability to take part in a taste-based community that curates photos of fashion, food, architecture, hairstyles and many other things. Now social shopping companies like Wanelo, Fancy, Svpply, and Fab are making it easier for fashion-conscious shoppers to curate their style, draw inspiration from other users, and connect to their favorite stores and brands. Wanelo lets users follow certain brands and stores. Products from these companies appear in the users’ feeds and they are able to “save” ones they like to their own collections. Fancy enables its users to collect and purchase products they like but relies heavily on a crowd-curated catalog as opposed to a company-curated feed. Svpply and Fab similarly offer users the ability to curate collections of their favorite products. A review of Alexis data shows that each of these shopping sites is much more likely to be frequented by female shoppers, something that is evidenced in their communities and user experiences.  Fancy, with a 60/40 female to male split, appears to be closest to providing an experience that caters for men.

The Blogosphere Finds Men’s Style

Men are also being well represented in the blogosphere. Once solely the bastion of the fashionista and stylish mom, guys are now blogging. The popularity of men’s fashion blogs like The Dandy Project and The Simplistic Man demonstrates that style and fashion are becoming more accepted as part of the male discourse. For examples of bros in action, one needs look no further than Complex to find details of Kanye and Scott Disick’s shopping excursions in Bel Air.

Content curation sites like Bureau of Trade and The Crosby Press scour the web for the hottest trends, brands, and items giving guys a snapshot of the good life. Online magazines GQ, Uncrate, and The Art of Manliness provide further fashion guidance, featuring articles on the latest retail and lifestyle trends. Men’s fashion blogs like Bobby Raffin, Edward’s Hair, The Hobbyists, The SC Experience, and This Fellow focus on the individual blogger’s style with short write-ups about a daily outfit. StyleGirlfriend provides a woman’s view on men’s style, curating tasteful recommendations that work for the everyday guy. Much like social shopping companies, men’s fashion blogs use the visual to inspire readers and direct them to the individual retailers where the items can be purchased.

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Megan Collins of StyleGirlfriend offers a woman’s take.

Celebrities Get in on the Fashion Tech Scene

Fashion-conscious shows like Mad Men and Gossip Girl not only inspire female viewers to try out Joan Harris’s fitted pencil skirt and Blair Waldorf’s signature headband, but characters like Don Draper and Chuck Bass inspire men to seek out classic 60s business suits or add a patterned scarf and bowtie to their formalwear. Popular culture increasingly serves as fashion inspiration for both men and women. Celebrities recognize the power of their fashion choices, both good and bad. Some seek out professional stylists to help curate their look, while others consistently land on “fashion victim” lists and keep their uniquely offbeat styles.

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Requisite Chuck Bass photo.

Style becomes a large part of a celebrity’s public persona. Recognizing this, many celebrities have delved into the world of fashion design and technology, some with greater critical and financial success than others. While former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has become legitimized as a designer in the fashion world, Kanye West still struggles to be seen as a designer, not just a musician. In his now infamous BBC interview with Zane Lowe, West suggests that many of his struggles in the fashion world stem from his race and his outspoken public persona.

Despite the dangers of being shunned by the fashion elites, many celebrities have also become involved in fashion technology as investors, founders, and creative partners. Kanye West’s other half Kim Kardashian co-founded the online shoe company ShoeDazzle in 2009 and served as the company’s Chief Stylist until 2013. Recently the company brought celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe onboard to take over for Kardashian’s duties as Chief Stylist, although Kardashian remains co-founder of the company. West has become involved with social shopping company Fancy, advising the start-up company on the future of e-commerce. Before his Yeezus concert in Brooklyn, West stopped by the company headquarters to chat about his clothing line DONDA and encourage the tech company to push the boundaries of fashion and e-commerce.

Ashton Kutcher, ever involved in new technology and social media, invested in social fashion company Fashism. The site’s concept was that users posted photos of their outfits and other users gave feedback on the look through voting and commenting. The company recently announced it was shutting down after four years due to lack of revenue and user interest.** The company’s shutdown demonstrates that even with the incorporation of fashion e-commerce into social fashion sites it is not always enough to sustain a start-up. Kate Bosworth, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Justin Timberlake and Rachel Bilson all represent various products in the Beachmint portfolio. As long as celebrities show an interest in fashion and an interest in investing and making money, they will continue to dip their toes into the world of fashion technology.

Mind the Gaps in the Market

Despite the growth of men’s fashion e-commerce, there remains a great deal of room for innovation. Although social shopping companies like Wanelo and Pinterest allow users to curate their style, the plethora of available products can be overwhelming for the male shopper. Research by Dash Hudson indicates that over 80% of men come to a shopping platform with the intent to buy as opposed to create content. The prevalence of dead and broken links in social shopping sites often interrupts the demonstrated intent. I am Jack’s complete frustration.

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So close.

Social commerce companies have taken various approaches to solve this problem. Pinterest purportedly attempted and then abandoned a Viglinks integration to capitalize on affiliate fees.  Wanelo built a robust affiliate tracking mechanism and does not have the same retroactive link modification issues as some others. Fancy has built a platform for retailers to fulfill items that customers demonstrate intent to buy, offering Google Wallet and one touch credit card purchase capabilities. Each of these companies is attempting to solve the problem of enabling the customer to search great content and then convert intent into purchase. This is especially important in the case of the need and immediacy-driven male shopper.

While companies like Frank & Oak, Bombfell and Trunk Club take some of the selection process out of the hands of the male shopper, the subscription model may not work for all shoppers. The monthly subscription cycle works for a subset of style-conscious men, but may be miss-matched with the buying cycles of other men who shop less frequently. For store-specific sites, the bastions of e-commerce, the issue is with high volumes of products. While having a diverse selection of products works for some, it becomes more difficult for the uncertain male shopper to find the things he needs or that he knows he will look good in. Men are being given more clothing options than ever before, but this has the potential to overwhelm them with options and leave them feeling unsatisfied.

The Future of E-Commerce Is In Your Hands – Literally

The trend of men shopping online will continue to grow with mobile shopping becoming the newest way to efficiently peruse and purchase clothing. Mobile technology can capitalize on men’s desire to shop on the go, making the fashion e-commerce experience more efficient than ever. According to Forrester, mobile currently accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of all retail transactions. Yet for most online retailers, the big story is that mobile commerce is increasing at a rate of up to 185 percent. For men’s retailers who have caught the mobile wave (ahem, Jack Threads) this is great news. The DDB Lifestyle Survey in 2013 indicated, of men aged 18-34, 30% use shopping apps on their phone and 24% typically shop for and buy items on their smartphones. In the age of the digital urban lifestyle, convenience wins.

Ask the Expert

Phewf. Did you make it through that?

We asked some leading experts of the e-commerce and fashion industry to give us their thoughts on the current state and future of men’s shopping. Here’s the first contribution, from Erik Lautier.

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Erik Lautier - EVP and Chief Digital Officer at bebe.

Erik formerly led e-commerce for EDUN, a high fashion brand owned by Ali Hewson, Bono and LVMH. He was also Senior Director of E-commerce and Digital Strategy at Lacoste, rolling out their North American platform. Erik is currently EVP and Chief Digital Officer at bebe in Los Angeles.

Thomas: Guys used to have limited options when it came to shopping. Now with ecommerce, there are a myriad of places guys can go to buy fashion. Why the sudden growth in options for men to shop online?

Erik: Many reasons, but three in particular. First, sites and brands began speaking to men like men instead of speaking to them like shoppers. Second, the lack of truly differentiated branded offerings in the past meant many men had to find their product in a sea of offerings on a large retailer site, which can often be fruitless and exhausting; today, however, curation and greater niche specificity in men’s brands, many of whom are online-only, have made it easier for men to find exactly what they’re looking for, either because it is being served up to them or because the discovery process has been streamlined. Third, sites have increasingly catered to the practicality that drives many male shoppers, offering virtual fit tools, faster shopping, and frictionless returns.

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Thomas: We all know guys shop differently than girls. Why do you think e-commerce resonates with the male shopper?

Erik: The principal reason is simplicity; I search, I find, I get, I wear.  As I’m sure most women will attest, men haven’t evolved much since our hunter-gatherer days.

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Thomas: What are some of your favorite online shops / sites / blogs?

Erik: Nothing fashion-specific, but I visit Buzzfeed, Business Insider, and The Onion almost daily.  I’m also a LinkedIn junkie.

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Thomas: Social commerce is a big deal (Pinterest, Wanelo, Fancy, Luvocracy). Will anyone figure out social commerce for guys? If so, what will it look like?

Erik: I think the challenge in answering this question is that social commerce is not really its own “thing” – it’s a consequence of something else, namely good product, strong branding, and/or clever marketing.  If we group those all together and simply call them “content”, then the question you have to ask yourself as a brand is “am I creating content people will be passionate enough about to share with others?”  That question is no different from what it was 20 or 50 or 100 years ago – it’s just that now, sharing is easier and faster.

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Thomas: Any predictions for what the next couple of years hold for men’s fashion?

Erik: I think the number of new, unique, hip, and specific brands – by which I mean those that excel in only one or two product categories – will continue to grow.  It’s becoming easier and easier for nearly anybody to set up a decent-looking e-commerce site and get their vision in front of customers.  The tech hurdle is almost gone.  Most of these companies will fail or see only minor success, but many will become nine-figure businesses, and they’ll get to that number faster than their predecessors did.  If I were a VC, I’d be assembling a portfolio of these guys before they hockey stick.

Final Thoughts

Social shopping experiences need to become tailored to how men shop by getting the best, most validated clothing in front of the shopper for their final purchasing decision. As more social shopping experiences become tailored for men, and as better retail products are built for mobile devices, male shoppers will start to feel the warmth of a market that finally understands them. Fashion e-commerce, particularly for men’s fashion, is growing in a way that allows men to dress fashionably and on trend, develop their taste, and buy clothes that are friendly to a variety of budgets.  And they get to keep balling, like Kanye in a pair of leather jogging pants.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being the coolest version of yourself. Finally, guys are being given the tools that make it fun and easy for this to happen.

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*My sister Katie was the chief support in writing and researching for this blog. She’s awesome. Hire her.

**To be fair, Ashton also invested in Pickwick Weller which is doing far better.         

 

 

 

How Do You Like Them Bricks? E-Commerce is Eating the Retail World

The face of ecommerce is changing and traditional stalwarts like ebay and amazon are under assault. Hot new social shopping companies like Wanelo, Fancy and Wish have joined the ranks of successful verticalized marketplaces like Etsy and Shopcaster and niche pure ecomm companies such as Nasty Gal and Net-a-Porter in challenging the incumbents.

The trends I see are as such:

1.Social shopping is hot. It capitalizes on sharing and friend recommendations to drive sales. Wanelo went from 1m to 10m users in a flash. This trend is for real.

2. Verticalization allows for brand building and target market focus. This helps build strong engagement with buyers. Shopping at a place where you can buy both a back to school outfit and diapers just isn’t that cool of a statement to make.

3. Marketplaces are all the rage. Marketplaces simulate the experience of going to a mall or a shopping district by aggregating stores (fashion boutiques, for instance) in one place. This helps drive both online and offline sales for small business. These provide a ton more value for SMBs than did the scourge of Groupon and LivingSocial.

4. Mobile is raging. The fastest growing ecommerce companies are mobile first. Jack Threads and Wanelo are both great examples. Jack Threads (a pure ecommerce play at men’s clothes) recently announced that 50% of its transactions happen on mobile. 

5. Ecommerce and marketplaces are hot areas for startups. I checked out mattermark’s stats and 23 e-commerce companies scored over 1000 and three of those scored over 1500. 

So what’s next? Well, with 90% of retail commerce still taking place offline, ecommerce companies will need to find a way to get closer to real world sales. Amazon, eBay and google are sure to have a part to play in going after in-store sales.

Marc Andreessen’s famous quote is that software is eating the world. Apparently the ecommerce kids like the taste of bricks. Quick, somebody start an artisanal brick cafe in Soma.

Please leave me your comments and thoughts. What is your favourite ecommerce company and what trends are you seeing?