There is a learning curve for a lot of things in life -- cooking, writing, public speaking -- but one thing I never seem to get better at is picking the right pair of shoes that will fit well, look good and be functional.
Toe-pinching, heel blistering and unsupported-arch woes hurt all of us the same. But a young Pitssburg-based tech company called Shoefitr has created a way to cushion the pressures of picking the right kicks and is doing so with an additional $1.2 million in funding.
Vital Financial LLC and BlueTree Allied Angels led in the dash to enter the first round of funding, along with Innovation Works, for the AlphaLab alumni company.
Shoefitr has gained momentum since separating from the research and development stage at Carnegie Mellon University and the well-known startup accelerator group AlphaLab last winter. Now partnering with shoe warehouses and shoe brands to provide consumers with a great fit.
What Shoefitr aims to do is use 3-D imaging technology to scan a catalog of current shoes and track different points of measurement to create comparisons and rate compatibility. Online shoppers and owners of discontinued shoes can rejoice, when the service launches with more partners, since they will be able to enter their favorite pair of shoes into their online profile and Shoefitr will find the best match.
"We currently have a number of great customers and partnerships with shoe manufacturers such as New Balance, Saucony, Brooks and other top brands. In fact, we're on-site right now implementing several new customers," said Matt Wilkinson, CEO of Shoefitr, in a statement. "This round of funding will help us get the message out about our offering to more potential customers and partners. We are just scratching the surface with what kind of virtual fitting implementations we can offer consumers and this funding will help us achieve our full capability."
Currently Shoefitr has a great focus on running shoes but the company is in the process of adding more types of footware.
The company not only solves the problem of ill-fitting shoes, but also the returns that stores have to manage when customers discover the problem early on.
Shoefitr said that in 2008, one in three shoes purchased online was returned, costing retailers more than $600 million in lost sales.
The application to curtail returns is what attracted BlueTree to the endeavor and shows promise across the retail marketplace.
"BlueTree was attracted to Shoefitr because it's got a unique technology to tackle a big industry problem," said Catherine Mott, president & CEO of BlueTree Allied Angels, said in a statement. "This is a great management team and we're excited to be part of the round."
Earlier this month, My True Fit announced that it would roll out in Macy's to aid women looking for the perfect fit in jeans. The Woburn, Mass.-based clothes-fitting software company's partnership with retail giant Macy's was another large step in reducing the need for customers to return merchandise in the more than 800 retail locations.