Not many startups can lay claim to being part of two recognizable accelerators at the same time, but 72Lux would be one of those exceptions. The New York City-based luxury eCommerce startup was selected as a member of 500 Startups’ third batch of companies this October and was also chosen to participate in the fourth “vintage” of NYC accelerator, First Growth Venture Networks, at about the same time.
Has 72Lux found a way to be in two places at once? No, the truth is that FGVN does not promise investment in exchange for a stake in the company, as 500 Startups does (and Y Combinator, TechStars, etc.), so technically FGVN is a mentorship network and community, even though it looks and smells like an accelerator. Thus, there’s no love lost here, it’s a win-win situation, especially for 72Lux.
So why the interest in this young fashion startup?
Well, for starters, 72Lux has built a shopping destination of high-end fashion apparel and accessories that is specifically targeted at women, so it’s capitalizing on an active, engaged demographic in a rapidly expanding (online) market. The other factor in play is that the startup is making a serious attempt at simplifying the shopping experience, by partnering with top designers and retailers to allow users to browse and buy all in one place.
It’s a bit like Yipit for fashion shopping, or Amazon, but it’s exclusively high-end apparel, mostly for women. Sure, there are quite a few eTailers for women’s high-end fashion, but few of them offer an internally-built, universal checkout mechanism that allows users to make purchases on-site. This means that you can browse by category, designer, size, color, or any combination thereof, and once you’ve selected what you want to buy, go through a single checkout channel, even if you’re purchasing goods from a different retailers.
The startup also licenses this universal checkout to provide enterprise publishers with a turnkey eCommerce solution — and a complementary revenue stream. And this leads to the startup’s big value proposition — something that hasn’t been talked about much. On the surface, 72Lux looks like a consumer destination site, but Founder and CEO Heather Marie tells us that the team’s real focus is on SaaS. The startup is now officially ready to announce that it has developed software that allows websites to offer their very own integrated eCommerce platform.
Essentially, this means that enterprise websites can now white label the startup’s universal checkout, and easily integrate eCommerce directly into their own website. Not only that, but 72Lux is offering a similar product for smaller digital publishers and bloggers, meaning that pretty much any site that reviews, blogs, or discusses products can allow users to purchase those products directly from their website. Below you’ll see a mockup the 72Lux team created for one of TechCrunch’s holiday Gift Guides to give you a sense of what this would look like. (To be clear: This is just a mock-up, TechCrunch is not selling any products.)
Obviously, this is a bit similar in nature to buttons that PayPal offers to their small business clients (like the “Donate” button), except without the painful controls and problems associated with doing business with PayPal. Now bloggers and content producers can begin monetizing their content directly, partnering with the designers and retailers that offer those products, taking a cut — or not. 72Lux has started with fashion, so in this scope, smaller fashion outlets, blogs, publications, and more can easily integrate an eCommerce solution into their sites to begin selling directly to customers.
Traditionally, it’s been easier for eCommerce companies to become content providers than it has for content producers to become agents of eCommerce, and Marie says that the latter is exactly what she wants 72Lux to enable. With a universal checkout, normalized product catalogs, and a suite of embeddable tools, the startup is hoping that it can convince enterprises (and smaller publishers) that working with them and their retail partners to offer an integrated solution will be easier than going it alone.
The intent has been to build a one-stop luxury eCommerce solution, and now it’s to spread its white label solution across blogs and publisher sites with embeddable tools and checkout features, just as Facebook Connect brought the social network to the far reaches of the Web. Well, that’s a bit of a reach, but you know where I’m going. There are quite a few analogues.
And to aid it in its SaaSy quest, the startup has raised an advisory investment round from 500 Startups as well as Thomas Varghese and several angel investors through AngelList. And obviously it also helps to be part of 500 Startups accelerator as well as First Growth Venture’s network.
Marie said that the company has also struck deals with a few big enterprise partners, but could not say more than that. So no doubt we’ll be hearing some more news from 72Lux over the next few months. Stay tuned.
For more, check out 72Lux at home here.