Just-launched fashion and beauty tech start-ups get tons of press, but with a steady stream of emerging new companies, it’s easy to forget to keep up with the old guard (unless they get a whopping investment in a fresh round of funding). Chatting with Doreen Bloch, the founder of Poshly, we got a sense of what it’s like to be a beauty-focused tech company one year in.
Bloch and her Chief Technology Officer, Bradley Falk, officially incorporated in 2011, after having met while working in financial services but bonding over a shared passion for the online fashion and beauty space. Their idea with Poshly was to connect consumers and beauty brands via a truly personal, proprietary platform that makes sense of the complexities of people. Bloch noted that “there are [plenty of] online curation based systems and they lump people in pretty broad buckets — boho girl, rocker chick. We wanted to see how much more in depth we could get to create the portrait of a consumer. Our average member answers 40 questions, and super users answer 80, which is 20% of our user base.”
With their ability to get rich consumer insights, completely driven by a product giveaway structure that’s proved to be more popular than the founders ever expected, Bloch was singled out by L’Oréal as a recipient of one of their first-ever NEXT Generation Awards. The beauty behemoth founded an innovation fund and then sought out the right, female-led digital start-ups with whom to partner. Bloch says that the patronage has been “such a valuable resource — to be able to walk over and have a meeting [with L’Oréal] — you can’t put a price tag on that.” Though Poshly and L’Oréal haven’t established a specific course for their partnership, Bloch has been thrilled to “tap into all the incredible advisers,” and from there, Poshly is now expanding in unique ways.
“L’Oréal helps answer the question ‘what do brands or agency stakeholders think of these initiatives?’” Bloch explained. “The primary thing they’ve helped to shape is our future product development. In 2013 we’re launching an e-commerce experience, but holding no inventory. E-commerce will help us scale up the kind of data we can acquire.” Meanwhile, the company has been able to substantially expand on their two main offerings for brands and publishers. “We provide consumer insights in real time. In a recent Refinery29 collaboration, we could turn around 2000 respondents’ answers in 24 hours about politics and fashion. The data structure is there, and it’s easy to pull insights quickly,” Bloch told us.
The second feature is aimed at brands. Poshly can quickly pull characteristic-based user lists, and though they “never ever share user-identifiable data with anyone, ever,” Bloch assured us, through aggregated and anonymoized data, they can help brands send out super-pinpointed offerings. “We can pull the user list, we’ll create the email, and we’ll send it out on the brand’s behalf. The subsequent sales and click-through rates are much higher, because it’s highly targeted.”
All this and Poshly is actually still in beta. “When we launched in July, investors were skeptical that we could bring in the data we wanted, and we could,” Bloch said. “We have a lot more to debut in the future.”