Our Investment in Betabrand

We are pleased to announce that Foundry Group is the lead investor in a $6.5m Series B investment in Betabrand Corporation.  Located in San Francisco, CA, Betabrand is an online clothing company that creates unique clothing that appeals to an individual’s sense of personal style, exclusivity, and creation.  By creating limited edition “inventions” Betabrand takes the ability to manufacture small batches of clothes while allowing their users to participate in the creation process.

(Model Brad (the “Dude”) is sporting Disco Pants, while the more demure model Jason is wearing the Executive Pinstripe Hoodie).

We’ve been thinking more often about how valuable companies are being built by creating new marketplaces.  We believe that we’ve found a great opportunity in Betabrand to help create a company that embodies many of these principals in the world of online fashion.

Currently, the company allows users to chose which new items will be offered by posting proposals on their website and having prospective customers vote on which ones will be brought to market.  The long-range plan, however, is to allow customers to actually design the clothing, crowd source input and modifications and designs, and then bring the product to life.   Already the company has brought out a few items with this process and predicts that 80% of their items will be generated from their customers and freelance designers.

The company has created a unique distribution model built upon social media.  Called the “Model Citizen” campaign, customers send photographs of themselves wearing Betabrand clothing to the company, which in turn sends them a link they can forward to friends that puts those photos front and center on what looks like the Betabrand home page. (In fact, it’s a personalized version made just for them.)  In the future, one will be able to shop by only viewing things that interest friends in their social circles.  In some cases, they may limit the purchase of a particular item to only one person in a social circle to ensure exclusivity.

The company was founded by Chris Lindland who previously invented Cordarounds.  We are excited to work with the team.  And if you happen to see us wearing some cool new clothes around town, it’s probably Betabrand gear!

 

13 Comments
  • RP

    So threadless on apparel steroids? Still a cool idea to get behind, even though it’s probably not for me as a consumer.

    • jasonmendelson

      keep checking in. At a new release a day (in near future), you might just be a customer!

      • RP

        agile at it’s best. I will certainly keep track, as I try to w/ anything you guys believe in. Cheers.

  • RP

    Draw one comparison to threadless and your comment gets deleted? It’s the first thing I thought of, but that’s not a bad thing? Sensitive Jason… I think this concept is a bit different from threadless and grows on the community approach of piloting before manufacturing.. so kudos to them for finding a niche in all things apparel (not just T’s). I do wonder how much revenue can be gained when offering truly exclusive item to just one person.. just trying to understand the economics. Cheers to Foundry Group for investing in the team.

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  • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I like the limited edition approach. Is the “the dude” name going to stick to Brad? Or has it always been the case!

    • jasonmendelson

      With that sweater, I think it might just stick

      • http://www.engag.io/Abdallah Abdallah Al-Hakim

        It is a good name if it does stick :)

  • DanielHorowitz

    This looks cool, but doesn’t really strike me as a marketplace? Seems like a rather broad definition you are using…I don’t think there are any remnant assets either.

    If you look at “science as a service” there is:

    ScienceExchange – Multiple buyers and sellers + remnant asset utilization
    Transcriptic – One seller, no remnant assets

    Do they both qualify under your theme?

    • jasonmendelson

      I don’t think this is a pure marketplace investment. If I had to pick one of our themes, it’s Distribution. But it has some Marketplace characteristics as well and even some HCI / Maker Movement in it. Not sure that I understand your other point. We are talking about markets, not individual sellers. But is Uber and individual seller? Maybe in the same way that PivotDesk, Side Tour or even Betabrand is.

      • DanielHorowitz

        I’m thinking of marketplaces not markets. Anything can qualify as market disruptive? I think of open marketplaces as having many buyers and many sellers (that can set their own prices) In this sense airbnb and etsy are marketplaces…anyone can buy and sell. Pivotdesk fits this profile. I have space I can offer to people. Sidetour too. I have an experience, I can offer it to people. Uber seems different to me. To be like the others, anyone would be able to signup as a driver and offer their own prices. I can’t sell my own clothes on Betabrand can I? They are the manufacturer and seller. I concede I’m offering a very narrow definition/model.

        Don’t see much of an HCI connection either.

      • DanielHorowitz

        Not sure this is a theme, but I think of Uber as Services On Demand (This would be distribution) I concede that once they seed the markets and get over the regulatory hurdles they may open up their platform. But, quality control is pretty important so I’m not sure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/abraham.hoffman.1 Abraham Hoffman

    GD Mr. Feld – I am hard crushing on your old man sweater and Prince pants.