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Startup Founders Series: Why Did You Start Your Business?

December 07, 2016

Whether you're a veteran entrepreneur or someone building your first business, there is a unique story behind why and how you started. In our past 3 years of equity crowdfunding, we have been able to interact with a wide variety of founders who all bring a unique perspective to building their business. In order to help other founders who are still unsure of their path, we wanted to bring you a unique perspective from some of the founders raising capital on our platform.

Eric Niu

Founder of Swaggle

 

1. What inspired you to start this business?

Swaggle was conceptualized out of a shared problem that each of the cofounders had experienced. As four young professionals in Washington DC, they had a hard time finding quality clothes at economical prices. They could not afford to buy designer brands and the lower price point options just didn’t have enough swag. As an alternative, they looked to consignment shopping and quickly realized that the brick-and-mortar space was dominated by women's apparel and if men's clothing was an option, the selection was extremely limited. As a stop-gap solution, the co-founders began swapping and buying clothes from each other and shortly realized the need for a solution which eventually evolved into Swaggle.

 

2.What’s the top question you get from investors and how do you address it? 

The top question we get from investors is whether the consignment (fashion resale) industry is a lucrative industry and if it has growth potentials.

The popularity of consignment shopping exploded in the wake of the Great Recession and an array of new online stores that allow people to buy and sell used clothing have emerged, challenging eBay, the original online consignment store. Online consignment is estimated to be a $25 billion industry, according to ThredUP, and it is growing at 10% annually, according to SnobSwap, another competitor. Venture capital is fueling the sector’s growth, and investors poured hundreds of millions of dollars into fashion resale in 2015 alone. Total funding over the past five years has passed the $450 million mark.

 

3. What makes you different from your competitors?

There is one area where women are light years ahead of men - fashion resale. The fashion resale industry has exploded in recent years, particular tailored for women. Unlike our competitors, Swaggle is engineered using artificial intelligence to create a seamless clothes shopping experience for men. Whether it's a 1950s sports jacket or a classic timepiece, customers can shop on Swaggle for fashion they can't find elsewhere.

We believe by bringing resale fashion to men's fingertips and establishing ourselves as the central hub for quality and affordable men's wear, there will be an increase of interest and awareness of resale fashion for men. Swaggle is looking to spark a fire in this space and become the industry leader.

 

4. Where do you think your industry will be five years from now?

Consumers are increasingly shopping online for fashion, whether new or resale, and the industry appears to show no signs of slowing down. The mobile fashion resale industry will be dominated by men in 5 years. eMarketer estimates that US retail e-­commerce sales of apparel and accessories will have totaled $60 billion in 2015, a 17.2% share of total US retail e-­commerce, and that they will grow to $86 billion in 2018.

According to TechCrunch, Mobile was having a significant impact on Black Friday 2016, online sales hit a record-breaking $3 billion, over $ 1billion from mobile. More than half the U.S. m-commerce audience is men (52%), with most in the 18 - 44 target group. Men are more likely than women to make purchases on mobile devices, 22% versus 18%. Swaggle is bridging the gap between mobile, the consignment industry and men.

 

5. Explain how these funds will be utilized within the organization and how investors could benefit if you are successful.  

The funds will be used to complete Swaggle’s mobile development for iOS, develop its mobile application in Android and optimize operational efficiencies for the iOS beta development. Part of the funding will help the company to establish its customer support mechanism and boost user acquisition, marketing and business development efforts.

Investors will be part of the Swaggle team that will transform the mobile resale industry. Additionally, we are having an early investor special exclusively for Flashfunders investors. For $250 and more, Flashfunders investors will get a Swaggle shirt to show off vision in mobilizing the consignment industry. Once we reach our minimum fundraising goal of $50,000, we will reach out to investors for sizing and shipping information. Shirts ships early March 2017 includes International Shipping.

 

6. What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received as a founder?

Learn to pivot and always focus on creating value for your customers.

 

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