I've been working with a committed founding team, led by Scott Stone, towards building a site that enables teens, mostly girls, to have a wonderful on-line shopping experience. Scott's team believes that online shopping is mired at only 5% of total apparel sales, in large part because the experience is 'oh so 80's'. Grab a look at the shopping experience at Homedepot and compare it with Abercrombie. It's really a commerce, and not a shopping experience. We hope to change that. The Wall Street Journal had a brief write-up here.
As in most start-ups the highs have been euphoric, the lows depressing, and the frequency of each rapid. The company is not yet encumbered by customers or partners, so things are rosy and everyone has their heads down towards a late Spring launch.
Though it's a new Company, let me share some things that have happened that starkly contrasts with early stage investing/start-ups from a mere 3 years ago:
1. Architecture- At no time were proprietary tools/foundations considered. The architecture is LAMP flavored based, but with two key caveats:
* The database will be a NoSQL flavor. So many folk have highlighted the inefficiency of SGL based systems in webscale applications that we were persuaded to go to the edge on this one.
* When building consumer applications, LAMP is not enough. We spend many hours concentrating on the LAMPF component. Facebook Connect is just so incredibly important/scary that figuring out how to work with, tweak, and be in compliance took more time than determining the components to use.
2. Infrastructure- Everything, and anything you can't carry is outsourced. Applications are GOOG based, phone is Skype, servers are virtual, etc. Expenses are totally variable and service can webscale.
3. People- We have been fortunate to find incredibly talented, equity oriented, and passionate folk in NY. Meetup is the lubrication for physical social connections. We could spend our days and nights attending all the interesting sessions held each week here.
4. Professional help- Many quality lawyers have 'special' deals for start-ups, and paying for good help won't consume your budget (less than 3% of $ raised in a seed round).
5. Angels- Most that we spoke with prefer investing at the venture stage (post-revenue). A few, notably Jon Whelan, really dug into the product and offered great feedback that influenced our product design greatly.
6. VC's- We have not been looking for VC $, but for insight. We received good feedback and offers to help. Once we do our job and get the product launched, we'll see if the offers were sincere.
The team is now busy coding, cutting and adding features, and engaging with their audience. No one knows if 'lightning' will strike, but we are encouraged...and wondering....