Sometimes, necessity is the haberdasher of opportunity. That was certainly the case for Swaggle co-founder Eric Niu.
When he arrived in Washington, DC, to start his first job as one of the youngest political appointees in President Obama’s administration, he realized he was lacking a key ingredient for success: a proper outfit.
“I wanted to look good but I didn’t have any money,” says Niu, founder and CEO of Swaggle, the way men shop. “I was too poor for Prada.”
Niu also realized he wasn’t alone. His millennial roommates and friends also wanted to wear but couldn’t afford new, high-end fashion. So they began searching online for a clothing solution. They discovered there isn’t one. Few brick-and-mortar fashion resellers cater to men or have the resources to manage an online e-commerce presence and the ability to reach male audiences. According to research, in fact, men are a neglected target consumer in the booming online resale industry, which is estimated at $34 billion.
So Niu saw the opportunity to create Swaggle, a mobile marketplace that connects fashion resellers with male buyers interested in gently used, high-end fashion. The company’s platform, set to launch in Q2, after completing the ETC’s AccelerateBaltimore program, provides a personalized shopping experience for consumers to easily find quality menswear at discounted prices. Swaggle also helps fashion resellers — consignment shops, boutiques, and dry cleaners — expand their market reach, gain business insights and increase their revenues.
Niu says one of the main differentiators for Swaggle, whose revenue model combines per-transaction commissions and ad revenues, is gamifying the “haggle” process to help consumers avoid the endless bargaining that often plague competitor sites like TheRealReal or Poshmark.
“Swaggle’s proprietary algorithm facilitates a matching and bargaining experience to ensure that the most relevant goods are exchanged, by the right people at the right price,” says Niu.
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