GlamSquad chief executive officer Alexandra Wilkis Wilson spoke of her transition from cofounder of Gilt to lead executive at the on-demand beauty service. Gilt rode the tsunami of online flash sales that seems to be slowing to a trickle. Wilson left in 2014 and just last week, Gilt announced it was laying off 45 workers. GlamSquad is in expansion start-up mode, which is where Wilson feels she shines. GlamSquad has 32 employees across three markets and has raised $24 million in financing to date. Wilson told the crowd that GlamSquad expects to do a huge business on Halloween and suggested booking appointments now.
Intimate apparel retailer Adore Me ceo Morgan Hermand-Waiche told the proudly nerdy crowd how a guy that knew nothing about lingerie has become a successful online business. Hermand-Waiche wants to be disruptor in the world of lingerie in the same way Warby Parker changed how people buy eyeglasses. He said the private company sells more lingerie than Agent Provocateur or Chantelle and his goal is to beat Victoria’s Secret. He prices his bra and panty sets for less than Victoria’s Secret and carries larger sizes. Hermand-Weiche said his products will begin appearing in department stores, too.
ShopKeep’s president and ceo Norm Merritt explained how his software gave small businesses a technological advantage. The company was created when one of the cofounders became frustrated with a Windows-based point of sale system for his wine store in Brooklyn. ShopKeep focuses on small business owners that need a “do everything” system from transactions to inventory management to keeping an eye on the staff. Small businesses that can’t afford their own data departments, can analyze their business with this software.
While these companies seem well on their way, there were a handful of smaller start-ups pitching their ideas to the crowd.
TVP NYC is the upscale version of Café Press. The company was created after many customers expressed displeasure at the quality of their goods found on Café Press. TVP NYC has upped the ante on branded merchandise. It helps set up e-commerce and can even help people design and manufacture custom apparel.
Pyazza is a luxury consignment business. A Pyazza representative said, “If Craigslist is Wal-Mart, Pyazza is Neiman Marcus.” It focuses on high-end luxury products for person-to-person transactions. Both parties pay to play on the site. It has been beta launched in Washington, D.C., and is expected to go live in New York in a few months.
Notify Nearby is a fashion app that allows retailers to communicate directly with customers. Cofounder and ceo Nevin Jethmalani said it has signed up 120 retailers and is going live in a few months. Using beacon technology, customers can get targeted notifications. For example, if they are walking by a specific store, it will alert them there is a sale.
There were also a handful of lifestyle companies. Hooch is a private membership cocktail club. Cofounder Lin Dai explained that members pay $9.99 a month and are entitled to one free drink a day at participating clubs. There are 30 venues in New York City with more to come. The company plans on expanding to more cities.
Supper is an app that is described as the “Spotify of restaurant hunting.” It is a list of restaurants curated by musicians, artists, chefs and fashionistas. It also provides recipes and hip restaurant music playlists.