- Jerry Hum; Dennis Liu; Steven Ou, 29; Jonathan Wu
For the founders of Touch of Modern, the third time's a charm. The San Francisco-based men's clothing and home goods seller initially launched in 2010 as an app to help people find things to do on the weekend. Less than a year later, it relaunched as an event planning app. "It's really hard to scale and make money when you have to manage all of these small businesses and be hyper-localized," says 29-year-old co-founder and CTO Steven Ou.
Rather than give up and return their investors' money, Ou and his three co-founders pitched their VCs one last idea: a destination for stylish guys to find unique products. To test the idea, the company ran two preview sales before its official launch in 2012. The sales brought in more revenue than the previous two companies combined. The idea worked, but the logistics were an afterthought. The team had no idea how to ship the $7,000 Danish couch they had advertised on a whim. When a customer unexpectedly bought it, it took six months to get it to her. "She was very patient," Ou says.
Touch of Modern has raised a total of $17 million in funding and says its revenue is on track to hit $200 million in 2018. The brand takes more than a million orders a year, the bulk of which come through its mobile app. Top-selling items include luxury watches, clothes, art, and--everyone's favorite James Bond accessory--a wrist-mounted flame thrower. --Lindsay Blakely