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BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

Elevator Pitch: Closet Couture

Closet Couture wants to be the Facebook (and eBay) of fashionistas. Can it stitch together $1 million?

What's in Your Closet? Christine Elia's start-up lets women compare wardrobes -- and share plenty of fashion advice.

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The Pitch: "Our tag line is 'Where everyone's closet is open for business.' Members can upload photos of their clothes, mix and match them with items on our site, and receive virtual consultations from professional stylists. This fall, we are launching a marketplace where members will be able to sell their clothes, as well as demonstrate how they should be worn -- just like dressing a mannequin in a department store. I think this is a big opportunity. If you could sell everything in your closet that you don't wear, and get money to buy more stuff, would you do it? I think most women would."

CEO: Christine Elia

LOCATION: New York City

EMPLOYEES: Four

LAUNCHED (BETA): 2008

2009 REVENUE: None

2010 PROJECTED REVENUE: $180,000

2011 PROJECTED REVENUE: $2 million

NUMBER OF MEMBERS: 30,000

NUMBER OF UNIQUE VISITORS PER MONTH: 50,000

FUNDING SOUGHT: $750,000 to $1 million

IN THE NEWS: Mentions in O, The Oprah Magazine and on Vogue.com

The Experts Weigh In

An Ambitious Endeavor
Closet Couture once applied for funding from us, and we initially had some concern about how many people would be willing to upload photos of all their clothes. The site now has 30,000 members, which tells me that it has an audience it can engage. Opening up an online consignment shop is an ambitious endeavor, but I think it is a natural extension of the site's existing features. I am curious about how Closet Couture plans to scale certain features -- such as services from stylists -- to meet demand as more members join. That's one of the biggest hurdles it faces in execution.

Kindra Tatarsky
managing director, Golden Seeds
New York City

Target the Community
Closet Couture is in an interesting market. A number of fashion companies, like Gilt Groupe, have built meaningful businesses in recent years. I like the idea of giving users a place where they can mix styles and share their tastes. If Closet Couture can create a recommendation system like the ones on Amazon or Last.fm, it has the potential to create some real opportunities for community and targeted advertising. I'm not as convinced about the used-clothing marketplace. It strikes me that people are probably surfing for ideas more than they are looking to buy used goods.

Saad Khan
partner, CMEA Capital
San Francisco

But Most VCs are Men
This is a creative attempt to combine several developments, such as social commerce and targeted advertising, into a novel platform. But because of its novelty, there are few precedents that would give investors comfort that this is an effective alternative to other proven sites. Most VCs, who are male, will have no basis for accepting the assumption that women will pay for help in choosing their clothes. On the basis of this pitch, I would consider meeting with the company, but I would need to see measurable proof, like the average amount spent per customer, that the site is gaining traction.

David S. Rose
chairman, New York Angels
New York City

IMAGE: Brad Paris
Last updated: Jun 1, 2010




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