Within the past couple of years, Penn alumni have been successfully launching fashion-focused web startups. Here are three to watch.
Two years ago, Wharton MBA students Neil Blumenthal, Jeffrey Raider, David Gilboa, and Andrew Hunt launched Warby Parker, a truly innovative online eyewear retailer that sells stylish, functional, and astoundingly affordable glasses. For a mere $95, customers receive anti-reflective polycarbonate prescription glasses, along with free shipping and free returns. (Warby Parker also offers polarized sunglasses at the same low price.) Whereas prescription glasses’ price tags frequently surpass $500, Warby Parker’s founders have devised a groundbreaking business strategy to allow for such competitively priced optical wear (read more on their website). To boot, for every pair purchased, Warby Parker donates frames or gives funding to nonprofit organizations to help the estimated one billion people in need of glasses.
Peekseed, launched by Philadelphia-based brothers Ryan and Dylan Brown, is a self-described “social content sharing platform for individuals who want to explore their interests, express themselves, and connect with others in a more meaningful way.” Peekseed allows users to customize nearly every aspect of the content they receive. The website allows users to plant pieces of content, called “seeds,” and each group of seeds is organized in a “pod,” which is essentially a user’s collection of images, links, and thoughts. Users can view seeds from just the people they follow, or from all Peekseed users. Peekseed won the “best design” award at the SXSW2012 Awards, and rightfully so– the website is innovative, easy-to-use, and remarkably aesthetically pleasing. Signing up is quick, free, and can even be accomplished via a Facebook account.
Trendabl, an iPhone app launched this past March by 2004 Penn alum Jon Alagem, is a self-proclaimed “community of people who love fashion.” The Trendabl app allows users to upload photos of fashion items straight from their phones, and these photos can then be tagged with relevant brand, store, color or price information. Users can share posts with friends on other social networking platforms (like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr); also, users can “follow” friends, celebrities, magazines, designers, bloggers and more. According to Trendabl’s website, celebrities such as the Olsen twins, designers such as Michael Kors, and retailers such as Barneys New York are already involved. Clearly, Trendabl has been garnering major respect from the fashion industry, and it is undoubtedly worth checking out.