Posts tagged with "Start-up"

Taking your measure: At Redthread, the perfect pair of jeans is just a 3D body scan away

May 15, 2019

For every woman we see on the street, strutting her stuff in a skintight pair of jeans, there’s another in a dressing room somewhere, quietly swearing because she cannot find of pair that fits both her waist and her hips.

In fact, Meghan Litchfield, the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Redthread recently told Wired that she spent years dreading going into a store to shop for jeans.

There were the garden-variety complaints: inconsistent sizing between brands, the way back pockets stretched or sagged, the humiliation of walking into a dressing room with half a dozen options only to walk out empty-handed. Even the best candidates were ill-fitting. Most of the time, she’d buy jeans one size up to fit her hips; then, ask a tailor take them in at the waist.

Litchfield, formerly a vice president at GoPro, figured there must be a way to shop that wasn’t so demoralizing. Instead of taking off-the-rack clothes to the tailor, what if she could buy her clothes tailor-made? And what if she could make that happen for other women, too?

Now, Wired reports, her company creates bespoke clothing for anyone with a smartphone. Customers choose an item from Redthread’s website, fill out a “fit quiz,” and capture a series of full-body photos with their phone. Redthread pulls 3D measurement data from those photos and, combined with a customer’s fit preferences, creates a made-to-order item.

Redthread currently offers an essential ankle pant, essential wide leg pant, a tee, and a snap jacket—fitted to the customer’s personal requirements, hand-sewn in San Francisco, and shipped to the front door in a week for just $4.99. If customers don’t like the results, that $4.99 is quickly refunded; if the patent-pending technology provides the perfect fit, the full price is invoiced ($128 for the ankle pants and $78 for the tee).

The result, Litchfield hopes, will go beyond simply outfitting a more diverse set of body types. It will upend the way clothes are bought, sold, and designed in the future.

Redthread licenses its photographic measurement technology from a company called CALA, which lifts 15 exact measurements from the pictures the customer sends in. The company then uses those measurements to tailor a garment in a dozen or so places before shipping it out.

This kind of customization represents “a huge shift in the industry,” says Sophie Marchessou, a partner at McKinsey who consults on retail brands. A McKinsey report on The State of Fashion in 2019 pointed to personalization as a key trend— especially among younger customers, noting, “They have a desire to individualize products, and they’re often willing to pay a premium for it.”

While custom-made clothing might save retailers money on returns and overstock, Marchessou says it’s not yet sustainable for most brands to ship out custom-produced single orders. Technologies like automated sewing and 3D printing for clothes could make it easier to scale up a bespoke garment business (and also drive down costs), but those technologies aren’t widely accessible yet.

Litchfield, for her part, told Wired that she imagines a world “where stacks of apparel inventory and sizes are eliminated, everyone has their measurements in a digital wallet, and all clothing is created on-demand, personalized to each person.” She thinks we’ll get there, eventually—one pair of made-to-measure pants at a time.

Research contact: @WIRED

Edgewell to ‘shave off’ industry disruptor and competitor Harry’s in $1.37B acquisition

May 10, 2019

The dream of many entrepreneurs is to launch a great idea—and then get bought out for millions of dollars. That’s just what happened to Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, who founded New York City-based Harry’s in 2013 because “they were tired of overpaying for overdesigned razors, and of standing around waiting for the person in the drugstore to unlock the cases so they could actually buy them.”

Now, they offer a starter set—a weighted rubberized handle, a five-blade razor cartridge, foaming shave gel, and a travel blade cover—for just $8. Customers can choose to continue buying with a subscription service that will send customized refills every two, three, or five months.

Not only have Katz-Mayfield and Raider disrupted the entire shaving industry—until that time, dominated by just two brands (Gillette and Schick)—but now, they’re joining forces with one of them, The New York Times reports.

Edgewell Personal Care—the company that owns the Schick and Wilkinson razor brands (as well as Hawaiian Tropic)—announced on May 9 that it plans to buy Harry’s for about $1.37 billion in stock and cash. And the founders, Katz-Mayfield and Raider, will stay on to run Edgewell’s operations in the United States.

It is the one of the largest recent examples an established business buying a younger, nimbler competitor born of the Internet and predicated on reaching consumers in new ways, the Times reports. That has included deals like Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club, the other shaving start-up sensation, for $1 billion three years ago; as well as Walmart acquiring the online men’s wear purveyor Bonobos for about $310 million.

In the men’s shaving market, the combined Edgewell and Harry’s will remain a distant second to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand, which commanded 47.3% of the American market last year, according to data from Euromonitor. Edgewell’s top brands held about 13.6% of the market, while Harry’s had about 2.6 percent.

But executives from Edgewell and Harry’s said in an interview with The New York Times that they saw a chance to form a big, new consumer products company infused with both global reach and new ways of marketing to customers.

“We’ve had an interesting product portfolio, but we’ve lacked a way to communicate with the consumer,” Rod Little, Edgewell’s chief executive, said.

Talks between the two companies began in earnest shortly after Little was appointed to his post in March, the executives said. The Harry’s management team had considered alternatives, like an initial public offering, but combining with an established brand ultimately made the most sense.

“This got us where we wanted to go more quickly than some alternative route,” Katz-Mayfield said.

Under the terms of the deal, which was approved by both boards on May 8, 79% of Edgewell’s offer—just over $1 billion—would be in cash. The remainder would be in stock, giving Harry’s investors a roughly 11% stake in the combined company.

Katz-Mayfield and Raider will become co-presidents of Edgewell’s American operations, giving them a bigger perch and more brands to oversee and overhaul.  Little will remain chief executive of the combined business.

The deal is expected to close by March 31, 2020.

Research contact: @harry’s

You can lead Millennials to water, but Recess might be the beverage of choice in 2019

January 10, 2019

Not tired, not wired.” That’s how a new, non-alcoholic, decaf drink called Recess will make you feel after just a few sips—or so says the eponymously named start-up company that produces it out of New York’s Hudson Valley (and markets it out of New York City).

According to a report by The New York Times, the new beverage checks every box for Millennials: Bubbles? Yes. CBD? Check. Sans-serif block font? Yeah! A knowing, nudging, creepily on-point Instagram presence? Obviously.

The news outlet notes that the drink is a sparkling water infused with CBD (government name: cannabidiol)—a non-intoxicating ingredient that is said to act as a pain reliever, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and “chillifier.”

It currently is available in three flavors—Pom Hibiscus, Peach Ginger, and Blackberry Chai—and, in addition to the hemp extract, it contains what the company calls “adoptogens,” among them:

  • American ginseng to help customers focus and improve memory;
  • L-theanine, to reduce stress with the help of green tea; and
  • Schisandra to boost immunity and promote a balanced state of mind.

And who better to target the drink at Millennials than company Co-founder and CEO Benjamin Witte, an age 29 entrepreneur who previously worked in tech marketing in San Francisco.

“We canned a feeling,” whispers the copy on the Recess website. The site uses phrases like “the unlikely friendship we’re here for” and, regarding a sample pack, “for those who fear commitment”—“channeling the half-embarrassed self-aware sincerity that defines the Millennial mood,” according to the Times.

The site, social media, and product all read, “Calm Cool Collected,” an apparent mantra and marketing tagline in the soothing lexicon of self-improvement. The cans of Recess,  are tinted in palliative pastel colors of pink, peach, and purple; with minimalist typography reminiscent of such popular brands as Casper and Allbirds.

For those discerning shoppers who are seeking a healthful alternative to mineral water, sparkling water, seltzer—and yes, just plain water—Recess offers a rare alcohol-free, caffeine-free, and almost sugar-free experience.

Research contact: @benwitte

The face is familiar … and a new app will help you remember the name

January 8, 2019

It has happened to all of us. We run into somebody we know, but can’t match a name to the face.

Embarrassing? Yes. But now there’s a way to finesse the situation, thanks to the creators of SocialRecall, an app that uses smartphone cameras and facial recognition software to scan the features of your acquaintances—or even strangers at an event— and tell you their names.

“It breaks down these social barriers we all have in terms of initiating the protocol to meet somebody,” neuroscientist Barry Sandrew told Scientific American for its latest issue. Sandrew’s start-up, also called SocialRecall, created the app,  and tested it at an event attended by about 1,000 people.

There are two versions of the app, the magazine reports: In one version, a user upload selfies that SocialRecall then uses to identify the person for other app users within the bounds of a specific geographic area, such as an event venue. Another version is designed for users with prosopagnosia, better known as face blindness. That version enables a user to tag images of his or her own friends so that the app can remind them of their names on the fly.

Privacy concerns? SocialRecall says it deletes obsolete user data on the event version of the app, and that data for the other version is only stored on a user’s phone.

But, Scientific American notes, privacy experts remain concerned that the app represents a widespread rollout of technology that could have profound implications for the future of public spaces— and that it’s difficult to adequately inform users about the long-term risks of a technology that’s still so new.

“The cost to everyone whom you are surveilling with this app is very, very high,” New York University law professor Jason Schultz told Scientific American, “and I don’t think it respects the consent politics involved with capturing people’s images.”

Research contact: info@socialrecallapp.com