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‘Selfies With Purpose’: The Latest Big E-Commerce Idea; Fitbay aims to be the “Facebook of social shopping”

‘Selfies With Purpose’: The Latest Big E-Commerce Idea

By VANESSA FRIEDMAN

JUNE 12, 2014 8:21 AM Comment

The above headline may sound like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it is actually part of the business plan (and purpose) of a new e-commerce social network called Fitbay, which just raised $2 million in seed funding from Steadfast Venture Capital of New York and Creandum, a Nordic venture capitalist company and Spotify investor. Fitbay aims to be the “Facebook of social shopping” according to Christian Wylonis, its founder and chief executive.

Alibaba and Net-a-Porter notwithstanding, fashion is still regarded by many as the great untapped Internet market.

Fitbay takes a slightly different approach: It aims to solve the problem of the ridiculous alternative-sizing universe that often seems to exist in fashion (I, for example, am a size 0 at the Gap, and a 44 at Pucci). This would in turn theoretically solve the problem of the 40 percent of online purchases, according to a report by Credit Suisse, that are returned to retailers. And while there are a number of other virtual fitting rooms out there, Fitbay aims to do it through crowdsourcing and, yes, selfies.

Think of it this way: Because I know how those jersey T-shirt dresses fit me at Pucci — given I like a little breathing room — I could use that information to tell other women of my size and shape what size they should buy. And take lots of pictures of me to show them!

Makes sense, right? It effectively combines four e-trends (fashion, selfies, crowdsourcing, big data — more on that later) into one platform. And it even has that nice added advantage of justifying selfies, thus giving people a legitimate excuse for taking them. Do not underestimate the allure of justifying self-regard.

Fitbay, which is based in Copenhagen and New York, began in beta in March after raising $400,000 of angel investment, and opened to the public on Wednesday; between March and now, the company has acquired “tens of thousands of users,” primarily in the United States, Britain and Scandinavia, according to Mr. Wylonis, who said that it had been growing 110 percent month-on-month (but won’t get more specific about numbers).

When you join Fitbay, you are asked a series of questions about your size and have to choose a body pictogram, all of which you can opt to keep secret or share. You can also upload pictures, which clearly would be helpful for others to judge whether you had gilded the lily about your own sizing — though when I explored the site, the photos I saw were mostly head shots, which were not that useful.

Still, there are certain built-in safeguards against lying, because Fitbay monetizes its members not by asking for a fee from them, but by acting as a commerce portal to “suggest” garments that may be right for users, based on what others of the same (theoretical) size bought. If the user then buys a garment, the site gets a cut of the sale — but it also gets lots of information on what size that user actually is. In other words, that hot-button word: data!

Fitbay is currently working with a number of online retailers including Yoox and ShopSense, and has a database of two million garments and 400 brands, including Alexander McQueen, Madewell, Diesel and Marc Jacobs.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Check it out and report back — I would very much like to hear your thoughts.

 

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About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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