Choosy raises $5.4M to build out its on-demand social shopping platform

The company owns its entire supply chain, allowing it to manufacture and deliver cheaper and faster

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 15, 2018
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Social and e-commerce have always seemed like they'd be a match made in heaven. After, that's where people spend so much of their time so what better way to get people to buy stuff than by going where they already are?

Of all the major social networks, Pinterest is the most obvious example of having made e-commerce a major part of its platform but plenty of other networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have installed buy buttons to allow their users to make online purchases without ever having to leave. Then you have a site like Poshmark, which is a peer-to-peer social network that allows people to buy from each other. 

While these companies act as a facilitator for the transaction, basically selling third party goods through their site, what none of them have been able to do is actually figure out a way to have their own vertically integrated supply chain, as well as relationships with manufacturing factories. That's what separates Choosy from the pack: it's an on-demand social shopping platform where collections are inspired by what's trending on social media. Choosy is then able to create looks on-demand and deliver the items to its users in less than two weeks.

The company is only around six months old but it has already attracted attention from VCs. On Tuesday, it announced a $5.4 million seed round led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from Forerunner Ventures, Innovation Global Capital, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, XFactor Ventures, Supernode Ventures and angel investor Bryan Rosenblatt.

Choosy was founded in late 2017 as "the first social commerce platform for users to shop their favorite collections as they trend in real time," Jessie Zeng, co-founder and CEO of Choosy, told me in an interview.

"The reason we started this is that I am a huge social media user, especially Instagram. Whenever a celebrity posted an outfit and it started to trend, I'd see a few hundred thousand users asking, 'Where is that item from?' but they'd never get answers from celebrities. Even they did get an answer, you'd go onto the site and it would either few thousand dollars or sold out," she said.

"Clearly this is a new generation that is shopping in a different way and we wanted to make a new platform that would be able to have a supply chain that holds zero inventory."

Here's now Choosy works: as users browse Instagram, if they see they a look that they like, those users tag it with #GetChoosy. Based on those hashtags, Choosy then identifies the top 10 trending fashions each week, and will design and sell the items directly to those users. 

The company began running a test run earlier this year, where it identified street looks inspired by fashion models Bella and Gigi Hadid. That test collection completely sold out within hours.

The typical user is someone who is "very social media savvy, very obsessed with what is being worn by celebrities, reality TV stars, influencers, and is wanting to have that lifestyle," she said. "Someone who wants to shop and live like social media personalities, that's our Choosy customer."

In addition to seeing what's trending, the company also uses artificial intelligence for personalization and recommendation. That means that if a user buys good from a certain influencer, the company is then able to then suggest similar items to other users that like that same influencer.

Choosy is set to launch to the public in July of this year. 

Owning the supply chain

While Choosy creates its styles, it doesn't mass produce them, instead making them after it receives an order, yet Zeng says it can still get the item the user's front door in as little as two weeks. 

The company is able do that because it owns its entire supply chain, including design and fabric sourcing, as well as production and shipping, which means they only work for Choosy, not for any other businesses. Having an in-house team, rather than doing what many other companies do by going through a series of middle men, i.e. brokers, allows the company to also keep the cost of the items down. All of the goods sold by Choosy are under $100, with the majority in the $50 range.  

The fact that Choosy only makes what customers demand also keeps the cost down, as it allows them to maintain a zero-balance inventory as well as minimizes wasteful production of excess clothing. 

Many of the advantages that Choosy has in running its business this way stem from Zeng's family, which has deep relationships in the textile manufacturing business in China and who work with employees who came from some of the largest retail businesses in China. She has been able to leverage those connections into the current business. 

"Manufacturing is extremely relationship driven. Our fabric supplier has 10 years of experience trading fabrics. That comes through my family’s past connections, and me spending years in manufacturing and venture capital in China," said Zeng.

The greater control over the manufacturing process produces another additional benefits: it allows Choosy to offer a larger variety of sizing to its users, who can buy up to size 20 in their favorite designs.

That kind of size inclusivity, so often not found in the fashion world, is important to Choosy's goal of making styles available to people who don't often have access to them, Zeng told me. 

"For us, we want to be on the forefront of the next generation of commerce for the ideal world wish we could live in." 

The future of Choosy

Choosy says it will use the funding to "perfect the customer experience," which means improving everything from ordering processes to receiving deliveries on time. 

"We want to focus on customer experience, which might mean having a team of customer experience specialists on call. Also getting packaging right so customers are delighted when they receive something. That's a new way of shopping," said Zeng.

While Zeng made it clear that, eventually, Choosy might potentially be a platform all types of goods, and not just for women's apparel, right now the company will remained focused on that sector.

"I think its hard to say so early on what other spaces we might get into. Women’s apparel is a trillion industry globally so let's see how we are able to scale," she said.

Ultimately, the goal behind Choosy is to open up a whole new way for the current generation of shoppers, those who do a fair amount of their shopping on the Internet, to buy goods. 

"We are leading a new way to shop in the digital age. This never been done through social media and trending with zero inventory supply chain."

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