Today Calgary-based BeauCoo announced that it has added $1.1 million in a seed funding round led by Zinc Ventures, adding to $100,000 in seed funding from angel investor Brad Zumwalt earlier this year. BeauCoo allows women with similar body sizes and figures to share and provide feedback on clothing, brands, and fit with a built-in feature that provides rewards based on their activity. It’s currently in private beta and will be looking to launch in October, and the company plans to use the funding to ramp up their efforts in marketing, growth and product development.
The company is the second startup for Christian MacLean, Victoria MacLean, Rick Cotter and Cory Smith, previous co-founders of Decoder, a mobile development company that was acquired by their now-seed investor Zumwalt earlier in the year. “Every woman has a hard time finding clothes that fit their body shape and their size, whether they’re petite and slender to plus size and curvy,” Victoria said in an interview. “What I discovered was online communities of women sharing and talking about clothing and how it fits and giving that feedback. Where this came from is realizing that there’s no way to store really good data around these brands and specific items of clothing, so it would get lost on a Facebook feed or lost on Reddit or wherever and that’s where the seed of this idea came from, collecting all those ideas and feedback.”
When the iPhone app launches, users will be able to create a profile that would prompt them to enter their basic body dimensions, which are kept private, and they are then matched up with other women with the same body size. Women would then be able to browse photos that other women their size share, share their own photos of clothing they try out in-store for feedback, which women can then comment on, like, and put on their wish list. The company will be using Kiip, a real-world rewards system for virtual gamification, to deliver rewards for early users of BeauCoo to provide promotions and coupons based on their activity.
“It’s not based on the item of clothing, it’s based on the women themselves, instead of trying to say Gap jeans fits this kind of person, or a blouse from Zara fits somebody this way. The most important thing is women’s dimensions, so we’re not focused in on actual brands, because season to season, manufacturing run to manufacturing run, those items changes,” Christian added. “We’re very focused on the actual women and users, not the actual brands.”
The company wants to demonstrate its value to retailers and brands before launching some of the monetization strategies that are on the table. Some of the opportunities the co-founders said they were exploring included providing data and insights to brands based on user activity on BeauCoo, and partnering with brands to create curated or suggested galleries based on users’ preferences and past activity.
Other players in what is being touted as fashion’s discovery economy include the likes of Pose, which lets users curate their own fashion magazine catalogue, and Snapette, a mobile app that lets users discover and share fashion finds as they browse stores. BeauCoo, however, feels that it addresses a larger issue that revolves around the frustration around the large amount of time and effort put into finding clothing that fit and look good on a particular body figure.
“We like Pose, we like Snapette, we like what they’re doing, they give people a vehicle to share their personal taste and their personal style, but for us it’s about a deeper issue, it’s about solving a problem women have. For us it’s about solving the discovery problem and making shopping a more enjoyable experience,” Christian said.
After the iPhone app launch in mid-October, the company plans to launch a web version and an Android app shortly after before opening up their API later in the year to outside developers. It also plans to migrate its rewards feature in-house through partnerships with retailers and brands after proving how their network hopes to drive buying action. Women have no shortage of apps to help them discover new styles with both established players and emerging startups looking to translate their online browsing behaviour into sales, so BeauCoo has it’s work cut out for them to convince women that sharing their size and finding similar women is the right fit for them.