StyleShare CEO Jayoung Yoon is only 25 years old, but has built a formidable fashion and style platform and has just secured a further $2.5M to expand her vision globally. This series B investment from LB Investment follows a seed round from Primer (20M KRW), and a seed round from Suprema & the founder of Daum ($08.M).
StyleShare as a mobile fashion contents platform that allows users to share what they are wearing every day, or what they have bought. The company plans to become the top global destination for fashion conscious individuals, that connects style-related content with commerce."StyleShare aims to connect the media side, such as magazines, blogs and other media types with commerce, on mobile. Jayoung highlights that while there are rich and diverse fashion media, non has yet effectively connected with the commerce end, meaning a disjointed fashion experience. Not only is this inconvenient for users, but it is also damaging to the potential of retailers.
Jayoung believes that the existing style process from content consumption to commerce is very ineffective; "With StyleShare I want to connect the two [Media and Commerce]. Eventually users will be able to view fashion content and then purchase items with one click," she explained.StyleShare now has 1M users and the company is ready to start experimenting with a range of revenue models. In the next six months the company plans to build their commerce platform, utilizing the funding that has just been raised. Initially they will target small and medium designer brands who want to promote their products to StyleShare users. These would include independent designers in Dongdaemun (Seoul's boutique designer district where much of the new 'K-Fashion' styles originate from). StyleShare's key market segment is highly fashion conscious 18-25 year olds in the mass market price category. Partners could also include other mass market brands such as Forever 21, Uniqlo, and H&M.
Plans for Overseas Expansion
"We want to expand overseas" explained Jayoung, "but for now we want to focus on building a quality style platform based on Korean content." This seems a smart move as Korean fashion is experiencing a boom period, allowing natural expansion beyond Korea in the short to mid-term. At a rapidly expanding 15% StyleShare is already gaining traction overseas and Jayoung believes that there is plenty of interest in Korean style to gain a large global audience, without the need for opening overseas offices or diverging into non-Korean content for now. "We aim to build a global product from Korea, and will look at opening overseas offices at some point in the future, once that form of expansion is required. For now we are focused on leveraging the Korean Fashion Wave." In view of this, StyleShare will aim to build presence to become the only app for viewing Korean fashion, globally.
In Korea StyleShare consider traditional media like Vogue and Cosmopolitan to be their top competition and there are no other online services with the same reach (1M users) that have emerged so far. We are generating the most traffic in this industry, in Korea," commented Jayoung. In the US the company may face stiffer competition though, with the likes of Pose and in SE Asia, a key market for StyleShare, there are 100s of services, though none has emerged as dominant yet, with maximum user numbers stalling at a few hundred thousand copared to StyleShare's 1 million.
What is StyleShare's secret sauce?
StyleShare is easier for users to engage with, Jayoung pointed out, because the type of content is focused on casual, rather than professional. It is aimed at people who like to take their own photos and upload them. People want to see natural pictures, and the company actively encourages engagement in all content, not just that produced by professional organizations. To achieve this high level engagement in user generated content the team first focused on building the community. This is one of the key differentiating factors for StyleShare. Users are more likely to post their own content if others engage with it, and no other platform has been able to achieve this to the degree that StyleShare has.
While the company is far from turning a profit, mobile commerce is expected to be the revenue model, along with advertising. Jayoung explained that they are taking ideas from US-based Fancy, who also connect online media content with their users and employ a range of monetization. The company aims to achieve break even in around one year from now.
StyleShare wants to build the diversity of content on their platform, but also want their content to be viewed on as many other platforms as possible. to achieve this they are actively pursuing content partnerships. They already are experimenting with a partnership with Doosan magazine, which deals with the rights in Korea for most of the top fashion magazines. Vogue Girl, for example, provides their content to StyleShare. This means you will be able to find 'magazine level content in your palm'. They are also partnered with Naver. If users search key words in Naver then StyleShare content is searchable in the image results.