Startups

Meet Re.mu, The Social Network For Idealistic Style Lovers From Plurk’s Founder

Comment

Remember Plurk, the social network once considered a rival to Twitter, along with other microblogging sites like Heello, FriendFeed and the late Rejaw? Plurk is still trucking along with 10 million users (and recent funding from W.I. Harper) and now its founder, Alvin Woon, is working on Re.mu, his new fashion-based startup.

Re.mu is a mobile- and web-based social network that is targeted at the kind of style lover who would rather browse thrift stores and Etsy than covet high-end designer items. Woon says he wanted to create a site that would attract users who are already showing off their daily outfits on platforms like Instagram. Re.mu’s seed investors include Taipei-based TMI Holdings and KAMIA.

For its users, Re.mu combines the functions of clothing organizing apps such as ClosetNetRobe and Stylitics with a social platform that lets people share their daily outfits, get validation from other users with similar tastes, and go shopping in-app. Re.mu’s community is still small — since launching two months ago, it has racked up 35,000 users — but Woon says the community is highly engaged and uploads about 25,000 posts per day, including photos of outfits and items that they own.

In addition to Asia, Re.mu is also targeting growth in Spanish-speaking countries and the U.S. Re.mu can offer analytics about trends emerging in those places for fashion companies. For example, one trend that Re.mu has picked up on over the last two months is the popularity of floral-print leggings in Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand. Seventy percent of users in those countries, however, prefer to dress in black, white or grey, and Woon is excited about the potential of Re.mu’s data for social scientists that see fashion trends as an economic indicator.

But Re.mu has plenty of competition. Lookbook.nu is already well-established among fashion brands as a source for trend forecasting. Other fashion communities include Chictopia, StyleMob, Pose and Tagbrand, as well as the many style blogs on Tumblr and wardrobe_remix, a long-running group on Flickr.

Woon says Re.mu sets itself apart with features like a machine-learning algorithm that will tell you how to style pieces you already own, based on factors like your favorite color combinations, body type and what’s trendy in your area. The site also offers “very granular filtering” in order to give companies and designers insight into not only what items are popular each season, but how fashion consumers are styling them.

Re.mu also wants to differentiate with an approach to fashion that encourages people to wear the stuff they already own instead of chasing the latest products. To build traction, Re.mu has been targeting consumers who share that philosophy.

In the U.S. and Spanish-speaking countries, the startup has approached bloggers who are into searching thrift shops for secondhand items or buying handmade items on Etsy. That tactic doesn’t work as well in Asia, where many style-conscious consumers still covet luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, but Re.mu has stuck to its idealism. In Taiwan, for example, the startup has hosted secondhand clothing markets.

Of course, Re.mu will have to balance its “spend less and wear what you have” manifesto with the demands of fashion brands as it develops its business strategy, which Woon admits will be a delicate balancing act. He faced the same challenge at Plurk.

“I think after a while, I began to realize that I’m good at building communities, but maybe not that good at trying to make money out of them,” he says. “But I’m pretty good at building stuff and getting people to come and play with it.”

Re.mu’s path to monetization is more clear-cut than Plurk’s because it already has a strong vertical. Right now the app has affiliate links to e-commerce sites like Saks.com. Woon says he wants Re.mu to eventually offer whole catalogs inside the app from a select roster of brands, with a focus on independent designers. To encourage users to make purchases in-app, Re.mu will offer incentives like discounts or the ability to upload more photos with each post.

Plurk never achieved the high profile of Twitter and the microblogging networks of Sina and Tencent, both of which are massively popular in China, but Woon says that its traffic has continued to grow steadily since its launch in 2007. Woon isn’t involved with its day-to-day operations anymore, but he’s still its chairman.

Though it’s hard to recall in the wake of Twitter’s successful IPO, the site once had masses of users threatening to leave because of its server problems. The irritatingly frequent appearance of Twitter’s Fail Whale error message helped cast Plurk and other microblogging sites as strong rivals.

When I asked Woon if it’s weird to see Plurk described as a Twitter also-ran, he was frank.

“Plurk is a six-year-old company and I think we can agree that at times we lost track of what we were trying to do because people were trying to go for bigger targets, like how many millions or billions of users we could have,” he says.

Now Plurk focuses on attracting users who want to connect with small social circles over niche topics they are passionate about (Woon has described Plurk’s average user as “16-28. Female. Cos-player. Knitter. Second Lifer. Likes cheesecake.”)

Woon hopes Re.mu will retain that same sense of intimacy even as its user base grows.

“It’s a matter of trying to create a medium where newcomers don’t feel left out when they first get a taste of the network. Then after a while, you need something to keep them hooked,” he says. “As their friends join, are they going to get the feeling, like, if you like an indie band and then it gets popular and then you start not to like them anymore because now even your mom knows about them? We want to preserve a tight-knit social network as we grow.”

More TechCrunch

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.