Tailoring Tech: Fashionable startups gaining funding

Krystal Peak · July 19, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/287e

500 Startups introduced several tech companies making fashion easier for anyone to achieve

Technology and fashion are rarely said in the same breath but the latest fleet of companies from the 500 Startups Demo Day event, held at Zynga on Wednesday night, proved that tech can bring the sexy back to millions of Americans.

The latest fleet of tech companies fresh from the 500 Startups accelerator program delivered their pitches to a room full of angel investors looking for the next Instagram, OMGPop or Yammer.

Founder of 500 StartupsDave McClure introduced dozens of companies to various venture capitalists in the Bay Area and it was quite a diverse group. 

500 Startups is an early-stage seed fund and incubator program founded in 2010, which seeds between $25,000 and $250,000 introduced the crowd to companies founded not just from the Bay Area, but also from Japan, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Australia, and Slovinia.

Since its inception, 500 Startups has invested in more than 250 startups, connected companies with more than 170 mentors and done three different plane tours, taking entrepreneurs all around the globe to learn about business markets worldwide.

Here is a look at 5 fashion-focused companies from 500 Startups:


Bombfell – We Style, You Play.

This new service solves the problem that men hate shopping, greatly because there are too many options and not enough help finding necessary items.

Bombfell lets users input their style, preferences and interest to build a profile then Bombfell associates send each person a box filled with items that fit their needs. Every item is priced at $60 and you can send back anything that just didn’t work.

The process is automated, hassle-free, and allows men to try on different items in the comfort of their own home. I might add the perk of being able to try these items on in front of their significant other or friends that would otherwise not be able to go shopping with them.

Bombfell already has 1,000 subscribers in its beta-phase and a 96% retention rate. Managing director and founder of the Foundry Group just signed up for the service this week.

The company has also built relationships and deals with Twitter, Google and Facebook to help to their employees stay fashionable.

So far the cost per acquisition is $50. This company is raising $500,000 with $125,000 already committed.

Umba Box

Many people may be familiar with the monthly subscription box services like Birchbox and Citrus Lane that send hand-picked items for different types of people so that they can discover gems they wouldn’t have otherwise found.

Umba Box takes handpicked to another level by offering handmade goods. With Etsy as the largest marketplace on the Web with vintage and handmade items, bringing in $500 million last year alone, it is easy to understand just how many people was unique gifts.

The challenge with Etsy is that there are so many items to scroll through and no one is curating and assuring the quality of these pieces. Umba Box picks the best of the best and fills a box each month to send to its subscribers. For $25 a month, users get to discover hand made items (between one and three each month).

With just a few months under its belt, Umba Box has made $110,000 in revenue and has 90% retention. Last month alone, Umba brought in $18,000 in revenue.

The CPA of the company is $13.

Umba is trying to raise $500,000 and $100,000 is already committed.


Shopping. Personalized. Reimagined.

This iPad app aims to become your personal shopping aid by helping aggrigate sales relevant to you, new products from designers you love and new designers similar to your interests.

Many lovers of fashion find that the segment is very fragmented and they are constantly wondering why they didn’t know about a new line or sale for their favorite store and Monogram works to bring all the pieces of fashion together and automatically update all of the time.

Users can browse all brands and stores in the same place, add things that they want updates.

The service also updates based on the things that the users have looked most recently.

Monogram is first tackling iPad, where the market has already shown that it is commerce savvy and focused. Currently, 87% of iPad users shop on their device  and spend 30% more than their counterparts on the Web.

This company is in the process of raising $1 million, of which $700,000 is already committed.

Tie Society

This service was born when the founders were tired of having to buy expensive ties all the time to freshen up their wardrobes and started swapping ties back and forth with other young professionals they knew. Since 75% of Americans believe well-dressed men are more successful, and ties are a major component of being well-dressed, it is important to have a modern tie.

With 3 million men wear ties on a daily bases, there a huge market of people that could save a lot of money by not having to buy a lot of ties.

Tie Society has built a service that lets users pick out ties that they want to add to their wardrobe and pay a per item, per month fee to keep the ties as long as they want or return and swap them out each month. Services start at $11 per month, per item to $50 per month for 10 items.

The ties are available for free door-to-door shipping that will arrive in 1-3 days.

In the month of May, Tie Society shipped 1500 ties around the country and reached a 96% retention rate.

Currently, Tie Society is raising $500K and 20% was already committed. 


Following in the stead of aggregation fashion brands like ModCloth and Urban Outfitters, TuckerNuck sees a void in the All-American, leisure fashion where it can bring families great clothes and accessories.

Launched 8 weeks ago, Tuckernuck scours brands for family fashion with an active and classic American style. The company has already made $60,000 and each checkout cart averages $125 per purchase.

The service also extends beyond adult clothing to include home decor, children’s clothes, pet accessories, and wedding needs.

Tuckernuck is looking to raise $750,000.


(Another popular segment of tech companies was also education apps and services. Feel free to check them out here.)

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Tie Society


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At our simplest, we are the original Netflix for neckties. What we offer is a monthly service, where members choose to have either 1,3,5, or 10 spots available in their online closet. We allow our members access to hundreds of different ties each month to fill these spots. Shipping is free both ways, with all necessary packaging already provided. When you'd like to exchange for a new tie, just send one or all of them back- and you can do this an unlimited number of times each month. We'll send our ties from our door to yours in 3 days or less, and members always have the option to keep the ties they like most. Since our inception in November 2011, we've grown to now ship over 2,500+ packages a month. Our users are loving our service too, as we've been able to achieve a 96% retention rating among members.

We carry top brands such as Burberry, Armani, and Brooks Brothers, but the real strength is in our direct partnerships. We work with great smaller tie companies, such as Mosaic and Brier & Moss, to provide them with a location for distribution and in turn, receive product at a highly-discounted price. But Tie Society isn't done yet- we're selling the full look of style to young, aspirational men. While we currently carry ties, pocket squares and cufflinks, our service is expanding to include other accessories and apparel. Curated outfit selections/fashion advice, member discounts for our partners's products, and item recommendations are all established in the new version of our site- launching within the month of September. Ties are just the beginning- soon Tie Society will be able to connect you with the resources to complete the full outfit at the lowest cost possible.

That being said, ties are still a huge market, and are growing in popularity each day. We'd like to refer to it as the "Mad Men" effect. We've heard that their are well over 5 million jobs in the US that still require guys to wear a suit and tie Monday through Friday. Beyond that you have weddings, job interviews, dates, bar mitzvah's, etc... The US is just a beginning for us- we're constantly being told to set up shop in London or Japan and with your help we'll get there!

For the month of September, Tie Society has, once again, officially partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation in their efforts to end prostate cancer. For more than 16 million men and their families fighting prostate cancer globally, the PCF is a primary source for new research information. Keep checking www.tiesociety.com for more updates on this year's events.

Competitive advantage

We've been doing this for longer and our service simply works much better. We have an expansive stock of ties, and are adding more each day. While competitors do exist, we are confident in our team's abilities- as well as our moves to expand into offering customized style advice and curation. Ties are just the beginning...keep checking back as a major shakeup is headed soon.


Dave McClure

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