Every time we turn our heads, there’s a new Uber or Airbnb clone. There’s the Uber for helicopters, chefs and planes, as well as Airbnb-style apps for dogs, boats, cars, clothes and private jets. But another startup model is pulling more and more VC dollars away from sharing economy copy-cats and sexting apps. Call it the Bonobos-for-everything, or maybe the Warby-for-everything if you’re not into J Crew-style chinos.
As of this morning, Jack Erwin, a startup that makes mens’ shoes that lean a bit dressy, has closed a $6 million dollar round led by industry giant Brown Shoe. The NYC Soho-based company sells hand-made shoes from Spain, but can offer them cheaper than more established brands by going direct-to-consumer, cutting out middlemen, brands and retailers who jack up the prices. An analogous company would be Brooklyn-based Greats, which sells casual streetwear shoes through a nearly indistinguishable business model.
Sponsored by FedEx
Bonobos closed their Series D funding this morning at $55 million, bringing their total VC investments over $127 million. This time around, the injection will be used for building out the online retailer’s physical locations.
To the Cult of Disruption, opening physical stores may sound like innovation suicide, but the thing is, Bonobos stores don’t actually Read More
After the Storm
Today Betabeat is launching “Ask An Expert,” a new video series sponsored by FedEx, where you can live chat one-on-one with leading industry experts in social media, real estate, law and brand marketing and get their advice on scaling your business.
We’re kicking it off with David Fudge, director of brand marketing for Bonobos.com. The company, which is backed by Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Nordstrom, started with the simple idea of making better-fitting pants for men and is now one of the largest online apparel brands in the U.S.
Many startups are able to work remotely with just a laptop and a working Internet connection–though good luck finding one right now. But for ecommerce companies focused on pushing products out into the real world, “just ship it” is taking on a whole new meaning. Between extensive power outages and three days without a functional subway, the disruption is likely to last through the week.
“Eccommerce companies are lucky since we don’t have physical stores–we can handle a break pretty easily,” said Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan. “We are a little bit like an airplane,” he added: “you can turn off the engine for a little bit and there is no problem–if you turn off the engine for a while it is a disaster, but a few days is not a big problem.”
That doesn’t mean recovering from Sandy has been painless, though.
We frequently face this question here at Betabeat: What makes a tech startup a tech startup? All young businesses are startups, and a vast number of new businesses use technology or the Internet. So as a tech blog, how do we decide who to cover? Is Warby Parker a tech startup? Is Bonobos? Is Rent the Runway? All are lightweight on the tech side but have investment dollars from venture capitalists that specialize in tech.
Alley vs. Valley
Online pants-maker Bonobos and brick-and-mortar department store Nordstrom have fused their businesses together, the companies announced yesterday, as Nordstrom led a $16.4 million round in the New York startup and will begin selling Bonobos clothing in its stores online and offline.
Accel Partners, which is invested in all the companies you’ve heard of from BitTorrent to Facebook, as well as all the ones you haven’t, from Chakpak to YuMe, announced a year ago it had picked up a New York office in the Google building at 111 Eighth Ave. But apparently the venture capital firm was holding back. “The early plan was to use a rotating case of Accel investors from other offices— including Jim Breyer and Theresia Gouw Ranzetta. A sort of professional flophouse, if you will,” reports Dan Primack at Fortune.
Tweet the Public
Bonobos, the popular e-tailer that launched in 2007 with the promise of a better-fitting pair of pants (ones that could hug CEO Andy Dunn’s “surprisingly meaty thighs“), is raising a $15 million equity round. According to the company’s latest Form D, Bonobos has already raised $7,999,973 toward that goal, with $7,000,027 still up for grabs.
The issuer is listed as Bonobos itself and not Mr. Dunn in particular. The equity is offered in “Series C-1 Preferred Stock and the common stock issuable upon conversion thereof,” and the round is unrelated to a merger or acquisition.
File this under how to handle an epic fail. We didn’t even know Bonobos had had an epic fail on Cyber Monday until we got our Quora newsletter this week, in which the top question was: “Why did Bonobos have such an epic fail on Cyber Monday 2011?” Apparently, the e-retailer was overwhelmed with traffic for its up to 60 percent off discounts and had to take down its site for days. But before it could, the startup accidentally charged customers who hadn’t made orders, served up agonizing slowness and surfaced repeated 404 errors—a nightmare for a company that strives for Zappos-esque customer service.