Speaking at Peter Thiel’s class at Stanford last week, investor and entrepreneur Mark Andreessen called out retail as a “particularly promising” vertical for tech innovation.
We’re seeing and will continue to get e-commerce 2.0, that is, e-commerce that’s not just for nerds. The 1.0 was search driven. You go to Amazon or eBay, search for a thing, and buy it. That works great if you’re shopping for particular stuff.
The 2.0 model involves a deeper understanding of consumer behavior. These are companies like Warby Parker and Airbnb. It’s happening vertical by vertical. And it’s likely to keep happening throughout the retail world because retail is really bad to start with. There are very high fixed costs of having stores and inventory. Margins are very small to begin with. If you take away just 5 or 10%, things collapse.”
Nowhere is the revolution in retail more evident than in the fashion industry, where aesthetic elitism, a tradition of craftsmanship and a super hierarchical structure have staved off the impact of startup culture. Until now. Between startups that aim to build a “Universal Closet” (99Dresses) to startups that allow you to design your own pair of shoes from scratch, we’re seeing a massive wave of the new way to shop.
Having experienced firsthand how broken the model of how we purchase and consume clothing is (women, we like shopping), I have the good fortune of moderating a panel that I’m super excited about next week, “When will fashion tech just be fashion?” Starting at 10:50am on Monday, we will sit down with founders trying to make the answer to that question come sooner, Neil Blumenthal, Jennifer Hyman, Alexis Maybank and Ashley Granata.
Many of you may have them, and many of you may want a pair; Neil Blumenthal, the co-founder of famous eyewear site Warby Parker, will be joining us onstage along with Jennifer Hyman, the Chief Executive Officer of premier designer dress rental destination Rent the Runway. Founding CEO of the incredibly well known fashion site Gilt Groupe, Alexis Maybank will also take the stage, along with the fashionable Ashley Granata, co-founder and CMO of Fashism.com.
Co-Founder, Warby Parker
Neil Blumenthal is one of the founders of Warby Parker. As the former director of non-profit VisionSpring, Neil spent the better part of 5 years giving glasses to people living on less than $4 per day who otherwise would not be able to see. A native of New York City, Neil is a Leo, enjoys long walks in the park and is a big Hall and Oates fan.
CEO, Rent the Runway
Jennifer Hyman has been the Chief Executive Officer of Rent the Runway since the company’s inception in November 2009. She is responsible for all areas of the business including technology, fashion, sales, marketing, operations, customer service and team management.
Jennifer co-founded Rent the Runway with her Harvard Business School classmate Jennifer Fleiss. After receiving approximately $31 million in venture capital from Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, they quickly built the company to include over 2 million members, 120 employees and 160 designer brands.
Founding CEO, Gilt Groupe
Alexis has dedicated her career to building and launching innovative and compelling ecommerce experiences for consumers. In 2007, Alexis, along with a founding team, launched Gilt Groupe. She served as Gilt’s Founding CEO, and today she serves as the company’s Chief Strategy Officer.
Prior to founding Gilt Groupe, Alexis served as General Manager and Business Development Director for AOL’s ecommerce businesses. In 1998, she became an early member of the eBay team, where she helped launch the company’s first strategic planning group working for Founder Jeff Skoll, and later launched and ran eBay Canada, which grew to become Canada’s largest ecommerce business. She later helped found eBay Motors, which grew to over $2.5 billion in gross sales in its first two years and continues to be the largest category of goods sold on eBay today.
Co-Founder & CMO, Fashism
Ashley Granata (Co-Founder, CMO) joined Fashism with buying and marketing roles at Bloomingdales.com and Style.com under her belt.
She works with designers and retailers to bring cool promotions and giveaways to the community. She loves vintage Ralph Lauren and Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Lipstick.