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Retail transforms quickly, and the onset of the pandemic advanced retail tech by a number of years. In the first 6 months of 2020, e-commerce traffic increased from £16.7B to £21.9B monthly visits. This growth has pushed many players in the market, even traditionally bricks and mortar ones, to venture into the world of e-commerce. Startups like Outfts are ready to make that happen.
Founded in 2019, Outfts has built a social fashion platform that offers retailers and influencers a suite of tools to expand their community and drive revenue. The site has already onboarded a collection of some of the world’s biggest and best brands, and partnered with over 50 retailers.
We sat down with CEO and founder Nicolas Baxter to get the full story.
Tell us the Outfts story! How did the business first start?
The Journey for Outfts started 10 months ago when my co-founder Henry and I realised the Luxury Marketplace with integrated influencer features we were working on did not have PMF. So, we stopped in our tracks and evaluated why it was going wrong and what the market was dictating. It was a big step to put something we’d poured our time into to rest, but after an excessive amount of interviews with influencers and retailers, a new inclusive vision for Outfts was born.
What specific offering does this product give to retailers and influencers?
Our value proposition is creating an ecosystem; one that offers retailers a plug and play solution to generate revenue and expand their communities. For influencers, we unlock a passive income stream, whilst delivering their performance on the platform directly to retailers. We want to support influencers’ growth and help them get the contracts they deserve. That way, they’re empowered to bring their community to retailers and complete the three-sided marketplace.
Is there anything on the market doing this, and if so, how do you differentiate?
We sit directly in the middle trajectory of two main competitors, Lyst & Liketoknow.it. We differentiate ourselves by combining the two to create a traditional marketplace merged with social features. Our audience is also a major USP. We primarily focus on the Gen-Z audience in addition to Millennials, targeting younger brands from established, sustainable, creator-led and independent brands. Any retailers that fit our narrative and audience, are paired with the current influential people in fashion to support this.
The influencer and ecommerce markets have boomed in the wake of the pandemic. Why is this solution crucial for the scalability and success of those players?
I wouldn’t state we’re crucial for e-commerce, major retail players or influential creators to a point as these are established areas. Instead, I would say we’re a driving factor for the future of younger audiences and the behaviours they express with the modernisation of shopping. Our impressionable demographic demands individuality, variety, personalisation and product decisions dictated by visual and emotion, all of which Outfts encompasses in one social marketplace.
With this said, e-commerce players, influencers and relevant audiences are continually striving to grow communities in a competitive space, and that’s something we can actively support.
What have been the biggest milestones you’ve hit so far?
For me, it’s the ongoing development of our team, both internal and advisory; the knowledge and drive among them thrilling. Further, our new Non-executive Directors (see our update section) will be massive in defining the next chapter of the company. Additionally, the vast amount of brands and influencers we have acquired has resulted in a fascinating position for the platform as we commence our go-to-market strategy.
Securing ASOS and FARFETCH as clients within two weeks is a pretty big deal for us too!
What can we expect next from the platform?
Our public launch is not far around the corner! Aside from this, we will be actively developing our detailed roadmap while focusing on expanding our user base and listening to their vision for our future. Oh, and our mobile app is in development!
What do you think the biggest challenge going forward will be?
It is clear that what we’re building here requires a large team to continue to scale. I believe our small team is fantastic at achieving a quick turnaround, scalability and growth. But it would be naive to think that we would not need to do a more significant raise in the future to achieve our goal. But that’s the way of a technology startup, and we will be ready for it!
How come you chose to raise via crowdfunding and how do you plan to deploy the funds from this round?
It has always been in our sights and ethos to involve a community raise in our community-led platform, and beyond that, it is great validation that what we are doing is on the right track!
For deployment of funds, it is crazy what our agile team can do with a little budget, so we’re incredibly excited to be scaling our team. We have already begun hiring three new developers and have applied to the UK Government Kickstart Scheme.
If you go back and start the business again, is there anything you’d change?
Every entrepreneur’s journey involves creating the right product, team, and vision. However, I would stay away from agencies and keep complete control of the product. Startup’s chop and change fast, which can become increasingly expensive when you do not house your team!
What’s one skill you have that made you well positioned for entrepreneurship?
I’d like to think there is nothing I would shy away from when progressing myself and understanding products, business and audiences.
What’s one thing you geek out on?
I love anything technology, cliché but true.
Outfts was recently featured in our Fashion Investing Insights article, which dives deeper into the future of the fashion industry. Read more here.