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Ideeli Makes High Fashion Fun

What happens when you combine the concept of personal shopping, luxury goods such as Kotur and Etro at deep discounts with the web and SMS alerts? You get Ideeli, a web service from an eponomously named start-up based in New York City that has just raised $3.8 million dollars from Boston-based VC firm, Kodiak Ventures and some angel investors. The company that soft launched in May 2007 will announce it’s most recent round of funding on Monday.

“Ideeli is an invitation only shopping community,” says Paul Hurley, founder and chief executive officer of the company. “Think of it as an advertorial that combines mobile, e-commerce and community.” By keeping the service invitation only, Hurley says, Ideeli is an attractive option for designer labels who want to maintain exclusivity but want to tap the web for its commerce potential. “We have built this from a brand owner’s perspective.” Oscar De La Renta and Baccarat have already signed on as partners. Why not? The service has a precedent, and is inspired by super-successful French site, vente-privee.com.

The website offers luxury goods such as clutches and bags from high end designers at discounts of between 50-to-90 percent. Ideeli sends out the members an email every week letting them know what products are going to go on sale in the coming week.

Then, every day a single such product (or brand) goes on sale, and the date and time of the sale is kept a secret. The members of Ideeli are sent an SMS alert or an email when the products go on sale. In addition, the company also offers weekly giveaways, typically one exclusive item. In order to become a member of Ideeli, one needs to invited by a current member.

There are two tiers of service – the basic service called Second Row. The premium option that costs $7.95 a month is called First Row and entitles you to get SMS alerts and a one-hour head start over others as far as sales are concerned. The First-come first-serve nature of the service is one of the reasons Hurley believes people will sign-up for the premium SMS alert option. So far, they have seen about 10% conversion among their beta testers. (Warning: ideeli doesn’t work with T-Mobile for now.)

The company plans to expand into other verticals sometime in the future, but for now they are focusing on the Cosmopolitan-set. When I showed the service to some of my lady friends, they approved the selections on offer, though were quick to point out that some of the stuff wasn’t that au currant. Would they bid? Of course .

What’s my prognosis on Ideeli? If they manage to get the viral growth they are hoping for, they will have suitors in big fashion-oriented publishing houses: CondeNast, Hearst, Hatchette and even Time Warner. [digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Ideeli_Makes_High_Fashion_Fun]

To try out, click here.

16 Responses to “Ideeli Makes High Fashion Fun”

  1. Sarah Newcastle

    Another happy girl here – I love these ‘private sale’ websites. I’ve been a member of vente-privee.com in France and in the UK and I can’t praise them enough. They only downside is delivery times. Other than that there are some really really nice clothes and accesories on there for very good prices. Feel free to use me sarahnewcastle123@hotmail.com as your referrer if you want to have a look.

  2. Janice

    invites are so annoying. every time i find an invite, it’s always expired. it’s too much work to find one.

    hautelook.com, for sure, though! thanks for the heads up. i don’t need an invite for that. :]

  3. ideeli does get some great stuff, but the frequent emails make me feel spammed. you should really check out shop it to me (www.shopittome.com), which emails you when clothing you want goes on sale in your sizes at major and niche sites. plus–you get to specify how frequently you want to be emailed.

  4. I like stuff like this. You almost feel privileged when you shop from an exclusive online store like this. That is actually a very good job of marketing from Ideeli. They will develop a loyal customer base with this method, even if they don’t get a load of people overall to shop from them.

  5. Om, you might want to give attribution to the original ideas when covering clone startups. In this case, Ideeli sounds like a direct clone of the French vente-privee.com.

    Since people figured out that vente-privee is such a success story (400 million euros, 30% margins…with only a French footprint), clones have been appearing all over Europe. And now, it appears, in the US as well.

  6. I can just see how to avoid fraud or spam.I believe that you can not keep things exclusive on Internet. But keeping any thing close does not track to success (exception Google mail). In quick time, sales folks will start advocating to “open up more” on their marketing book chapter “Expansion and Diversification Plan”.

    Only benefit I can see here is to avoid fraud or spam order.