Start-up shopping app Frockhub, which has been called a ShopStyle for younger consumers due to its social component, recently completed a $4.5 million funding round from the Sovereign Group.
Frockhub users create their own closets and promote their personal style by posting photos tagged with purchases from fashion retailers. Other users can purchase the products through a universal shopping cart that provides a seamless checkout process without leaving the app. Style influencers can create multiple closets within a boutique. Users can follow their favorite closets by creating custom feeds.
Neither Frockhub nor users own any inventory. Retailers provide the shipping and take back returns. Basically, the app lets anyone operate a store. “Frockhub offers a retail selling experience for users who otherwise couldn’t afford to stock luxury designers,” cofounder Mark Fishman said. “We’re opening the revenue stream model to everybody. Every user can make money from their style.”
Commissions range from 5 to 15 percent, depending on the retailer and brand, Fishman said. “It’s about an 8 percent commission on average,” he added. “We split that 50-50 with users.”
Fishman and cofounder Molly Hurwitz took Frockhub on a retail road show where they met with executives at Nordstrom, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.
“They didn’t want to engage us just yet because we’re a start-up and weren’t yet funded,” Fishman said, explaining that Frockhub acquired its retail partners through affiliate networks such as Biglink. “Most retailers have affiliate networks,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll go back to the retailers and make the right partnerships.”
Frockhub will feature 50 retailers at launch time and several hundred by yearend, Hurwitz said. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Topshop and Revolve will be represented on the site when it launches.
“It’s very similar to Shopstyle,” Fishman said. “But Shopstyle isn’t a social site. Shopstyle plans to launch more of a shopping app as opposed to a search engine by the end of the year. Hopefully we’ll make enough of a splash in the market by then. We’re catering to younger people, starting at 15 or 16.”
Frockhub will depend on bloggers and their followings to drive traffic. “Bloggers get paid by brands for posting on Instagram and social media,” Hurwitz said. “You can get paid by Gucci to promote an item on Instagram, and on Frockhub, you can get the revenue share.”
Hurwitz stress that “average people can also try to monetize on their posts.”
One of the reasons for the Beta test was “to see if bloggers are interested in our social model. A year ago, we approached 2,000 bloggers with 50,000 to 150,000 followers,” Fishman said, adding that 20 percent responded. The effort ultimately garnered 35 bloggers who promoted Frockhub, which led to 5,000 downloads in one day.
In addition to bloggers, Frockhub is looking for three celebrities to talk up the app. “It’s extremely hard to get through the door with agents and managers,” Fishman said. “We’ve spoken to a lot of agents and sent out seven proposals. We can’t name any of the celebrities. “We’re giving them equity, $100,000 or $150,000. We’re looking for people with fashion experience.”