The next big thing in fashion e-commerce is a moving target — literally. Ditto, a site that lets users upload videos of themselves to use in trying on eyeglasses, has today announced that it has picked up a $3 million in funding from a group of investors led by August Capital.
Ditto’s co-founder and CEO Kate Endress says the funding will be used to further enhance the technology behind the service, and to grow the company’s own eye wear business, which resells frames from Persol, Chloe, Ray-Ban, Tag Heuer, Vera Wang and others.
Endress, who is fresh out of Stanford Business School after a career in retail and finance, has joined up with two others, Sergey Surkov and Dmitry Kornilov, engineers respectively from Google and Nokia, to start the company. And that ratio says a lot about what direction the company might go in future: She says that as Ditto has staffed up, it’s kept the 2 engineers to 1 product person mix, and already has some patents pending on the tech behind the product.
Why eyeglasses? “The reason we were so interested in eye wear was because we think it’s so hard to do that online,” she said. “We feel like this is the next revolution in virtual fitting.”
Indeed, although it is focused now on using the product only on its own retail site, Endress says that Ditto has already been approached by other e-commerce outfits to use it elsewhere.
“Certainly I believe the problem with fitting online extends beyond eye wear but we feel it is a great place to start,” she said. Ditto (sorry) the geographic focus: initially it will stay limited just to the U.S. but Endress says she thinks it’s a “global problem, and we can make buying eyeglasses fun all over the world.”
In addition to being able to take 180-degree views of yourself in your new specs, Ditto has added some social elements into the mix: it allows users to post side-by-side snapshots in different glasses, and then post those pictures to Facebook for feedback from friends.
For those of you visually-challenged out there, you know that glasses do not come cheap — Ditto’s range is from $110 to $1,800 — and so like others in the space Ditto is throwing in a few extras to sweeten the deal: free anti-reflective lenses and free shipping on the glasses.
As part of the funding round, Howard Hartenbaum, general partner at August Capital and one of the founding investors behind Skype, is also joining the board of Ditto.