We've long been thinking about changes to ecommerce. There's no doubt that Amazon is killing it and along the way, drastically changing the retail landscape as we've known it for the past 50 years. And yet, it seems that there are niche brands that are able to create a loyal audience, create an authentic movement and cement a place in history all for themselves.
I recently spoke to an ecommerce entrepreneur who hit the nail on the head. He told me that it doesn't matter what he sells - although in his case, it was mattresses. The value of his platform is his ability to acquire customers in cost effective ways, build the brand and following for repeat and word of mouth customers and to control the supply chain to be able to provide the ultimate product.
That mindset led to our second investment in our Fund III (we'll talk about the first, third and fourth investments in future updates). The company is Whiff.com and they sell custom and curated fragrances - that's right - perfume! At the highest level, they sell a pack of 5 different perfumes (or colognes) that they put together into themes (Autumn Nights, After Dark, Work & Play) and many, many more. You subscribe to receive a different curated pack (5 scents and 3 of each one) every month for $7.95 or simply buy them a la carte. It gets more interesting though, because you can also customize the different fragrances to create your own scent. And once you're happy with your custom fragrance, you can even sell it on their platform and earn a commission. They have an impressive vision for the platform which they're seeding with perfume subscribers.
As is our usual custom, we were excited by both the size of the market opportunity and by the team. One of the founders and COO is Jason Pang (clearly he needs to tweet more). Jason was previously the founder of our Fund II portfolio company SparkFin (acquired by Stocktwits) and before that he was the CEO of Prima Cinema, and first employee at DivX where they exited with an IPO.
Jason initially drew us into the company and he is heading up the operations side of the business, which is much more complex than it might seem on the surface. The company is led by founder and CEO, Paul Tran. Paul is a lifelong entrepreneur, leading companies in different in industries from enterprise real estate software to surveillance equipment distribution. Most recently, Paul has become an ecommerce and social media ad expert, launching and growing both Dermaclara and Manscaped in the past few years to almost cult like followings.
Below is a quick example of a creative video ad that the team put together to spur some interest:
Whiff.com launched last week, allowing everyone to smell better; go grab your Whiff pack today!