Jon Alagem, CEO and founder of the fashion photo-sharing app Trendabl, believes that beautiful images speak louder than words. Fortunately for Alagem, these days, beautiful images can be displayed on the Web and on mobile devices.
And, not only are venture capitalists and investors interested in putting money into startups that can make their services aesthetically pleasing, fashion sites, photo and mobile apps are also in vogue.
To that end, Trendabl - which seems to be riding on the coattails of these hot trends - just raised $835,000 from Khosla Ventures, Forerunner Ventures, as well as angel investors. The new funds comes shortly after Alagem and his two friends started the Instagram-like app back in March of 2012 from Alagem’s New York City apartment.
It is easy to put Trendabl in a general bucket with all the other photo-sharing apps; however, the functionality and difference comes from it being content specific – fashion only!
“On Instagram, you never know what you're going to get,” says Alagem, in an interview with me. “We wanted to develop a platform that people came to knowing that all they would see is fashion; this is a fashion-only community. We believe that content is king and being fortunate enough to have some of the biggest brands and retailers in the world post to Trendabl creates a really unique experience.”
If that doesn’t impress you, then just look at the list of members that Trendabl can boast about: Michael Kors, Monique Lhullier, BCBG, Stylemint, Joie, Equipment, Current/Elliott, Diane Von Furstenburg, Carolina Herrera, and the mother of all fashionistas – The Olsen Twins (yes, I see them as one entity – err, enterprise). With big competitors like Pose, Fashism, Polyvore and Chicismo, these names come in pretty handy.
Nevertheless, Alagem is pretty modest about how he’s been able to impress such a large and influential chunk of the fashion community.
When you get down to it, however, Trendabl works similar to Instagram. The app allows you to upload photos of fashion items straight from your iPhone. Members can add image-enhancing filters to the photos as well as brand, store, color and price. Trendabl also allows users to utilize the search and filtering features to discover specific items such as, “shoes”, “pants”, or even a “red Michael Kors skirt” and so on. Designers, celebrity members and even popular users are labeled with a “Tastemaker” badge to set them apart as trendsetters. Anyone can be a user. And, let’s not forget the social networking element of it all as well.
All this sounded great to me, especially since I’m a big fan of companies that focus on the overall discovery problem in e-commerce. But, there is always that overarching question with these sorts of ideas - how will it make money? Although Alagem wasn’t able to clearly answer that for me, I can only assume that building a community consisting of big fashion names will pay off.
“We're discussing some different models but at this point we are really just focused on growing our community and generating beautiful fashion content.”
Alagem plans to welcome more brands and other notable names. “We think the platform is mutually beneficial for both parties.”
Currently, the app is only being offered for iPhone users; however, it's goal is to expand on other platforms as well.