We announced yesterday that DFJ Esprit has led a $5m round in Lyst, fashion’s leading social commerce platform, or, for those of you who prefer plain English, Lyst is a social shopping site where consumers discover and buy fashion. We were joined in the round by Accel, Alex Zubillaga and Venrex. Techcrunch and TheNextWeb did two of the best write-ups.
As regular readers will know, at DFJ Esprit we’re believers that Facebook and other communication and time wasting oriented sites are running out of room to grow in terms of new users or additional time on site for existing users. Going forward the exciting area for growth in social will be services which leverage social data to help us do the things we already do better and more efficiently. In the case of Lyst that means:
- bringing all your favourite fashion designers and retailers into one place
- giving you a personalised feed of recommendations based on what you like, what your friends like, and what your favourite fashion bloggers are saying
- having everything on the site available for purchase
- alerting you when items you have added to your ‘Lyst’ (i.e. favourited) go on sale
Fashion is a huge market and anyone with an interest in the space will know that there are a huge number of startups trying to make a piece of it their own. Even within the narrower social fashion space there are lots of competitors. Lyst stands out from the crowd because of their tight focus on commerce. Uniquely, Lyst has great metadata which allows them to optimise the experience for purchases, with pricing, stock information (including sizing), and an effective search function.
Lyst also stands out from the crowd because of its momentum. The company is pretty tight-lipped with its numbers but they have said that sales have doubled every month for the last three months. I will add that the April figures weren’t too small. I like it when we find companies with good momentum and invest to help them accelerate.
Next is the team. Lyst was founded by Chris Morton and Sebastjan Trepca, who are first time entrepreneurs with enormous potential. Chris was formerly a VC at Benchmark Europe (now Balderton Capital) where he got exposure to a large number of startups, worked with a number of fashion companies, and saw first hand what success looks like. My favourite story about Chris is that in the early days of Lyst he hustled his way into a relationship with Net-a-Porter by becoming a menswear model. Seb was almost part of the DFJ family before we made this deal because he used to work at our portfolio company Conversocial, we weren’t able to keep him there, but we’re thrilled to have nabbed him now. I think these guys will go far.
Finally, some of the other fun bits and pieces that make us excited about Lyst:
- Everyone wants to work with them. Lyst’s roster of partners reads like a who’s who of the fashion world including big names for design and retail like Gucci, McQueen, Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus and Barneys. In all they have admitted hundreds of partners to the site and there is a queue of applicants that will take six months to process.
- Everyone wants to work for them. They have made four hires in the last month and it’s been great to see the high quality of candidates that have been attracted to the business.
- They are on the leading edge of social – Lyst was a Facebook open graph launch partner earlier this year and now has a Pinterest integration which is working amazingly well.
- Lyst is also a big data play – they are pulling data from over 3,000 fashion bloggers giving them real time data on localised trends
- The best is yet to come – good things are happening at Lyst, and there are a lot of obvious things which should accelerate growth, perhaps the most obvious of which is to release a mobile app.
If you are into fashion, go and sign up.