Featured Startup Pitch: Tie Society is bringing the Netflix rental model to ties for men who want some variety in their neck wear

By Editor November 26, 2012

Tie Society logoCompany: Tie Society

Website: www.tiesociety.com

Founders: Zac Gittens and Otis Collins

Headquarters: Washington, DC

Year Founded: 2011

Investors: 500 Startups/Dave McClure, David Shen Ventures, David Kadavy

Twitter: @tiesociety

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Tie-Society/220161844683850

Blog: tiesociety.tumblr.com

Brief Company Description: Tie Society is the largest and #1 Netflix-style service for neckties and menswear accessories. We give guys the look of great style at a price they can easily afford.

By Jake Kuczeruk, Chief Marketing Officer

Product Overview

Simply put, we allow guys to outsource their entire tie collection. Members can literally wear a different tie every day of the week, for less than the cost of purchasing a single tie from a high-end retailer. We offer a monthly service where our members choose to have either one, three, five or ten spots available in their online closet. We then allow them access to hundreds of unique ties each month to fill these spots.

Shipping is free both ways, with all necessary packaging already provided. When members are ready for a new tie, they just have to pop one (or all of them) back in the mailbox. A significant advantage of Tie Society is that our members are free to swap their ties an unlimited number of times each month. We’ll send our ties from our door to yours in three days or less, and members always have the option to keep the ties they like most. No late fees. No return dates.

We carry top brands such as Burberry, Hermès, and Brooks Brothers, but the real strength is in our direct partnerships. We work with many trusted, high-quality, smaller tie companies, such as Mosaic and QP Collections, to provide them with a location for distribution and in turn, receive product at a discounted price. But Tie Society isn’t done yet—we’re selling the full look of style to young, aspirational men. While we currently carry ties, pocket squares, tie bars, and cufflinks, our service is expanding to include other accessories and apparel. Curated outfit selections and fashion advice, member discounts for our partners’ products, and item recommendations have been established in the new version of our site—launching soon. Ties are just the beginning. Soon, Tie Society will be able to connect you with the resources to complete the full outfit at the lowest cost possible.

Founders’ Story

Our co-founders, Zac Gittens and Otis Collins, started Tie Society after they were visited in their dreams by a well-dressed angel, carrying a message of hope for a new type of menswear service. Believe it or not, our founding actually happened one day over beers and football. Shortly after graduating college, Zac and Otis were working jobs in the Washington, DC area that required them to wear a suit and tie every day to work. Having been lifelong friends, the guys started meeting up on Sunday afternoons to watch some NFL and unwind.

Image is everything in business, and when money’s tight, it’s hard to justify spending $50 or more on a new tie. Guys can get away with wearing the same few suits each day to work, but the tie is the first thing that people tend to notice. To help diversify their outfits, Zac and Otis came up with the brilliant plan to bring their tie collections with them when they watch Sunday football to swap ties amongst each other. Zac would trade his J.Crew ties for Otis’s Brooks Brothers, and so on. Pretty soon, more and more of their friends were joining in these tie exchanges. Naturally, it reached a point where they decided to take it all online—and thus Tie Society was born.

Since our inception in November 2011, we’ve grown to now ship over 2,000+ packages each month. Our users are loving our service too, as we’ve been able to achieve a 96 percent retention rating among members.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy

Tie Society has been blessed with a considerable amount of press attention, which has done a great deal to increase our customer base. Specifically, we’ve been discussed online and in print by national news sources such as USA Today, The Washington Post and MSNBC . We’ve even had our service and products discussed live on Fox News Philadelphia and on the radio with coverage by NPR. Beyond that, we have experimented with advertisements on leading menswear blogs, mobile advertising, and through PPC efforts. People love to get discounts, and we frequently distribute savings codes to interested parties. Maintaining a strong social media and community presence has always been one of our key values, which is pivotal to the success of any young company.

We’re also very intent on staying plugged into local events, contests and business development groups. Tie Society has been fortunate enough to present at Vator Splash in San Francisco, to the fashion and tech crowd at FIDM, and throughout several Fashion Week events.

Day in and day out, Tie Society is finding the partnerships and product to enhance our Online Closet. By working with smaller labels, we’re able to provide them with exposure, as well as take advantage of the support they direct our way too.

How We Differentiate from the Competition

We’re actually different in quite a few ways. First off, we carry a large volume of product that our competitors simply don’t have. By the numbers, we have thousands more ties and accessories than our closest competition. They simply don’t have the quantity to match us. You’ll also notice that Tie Society stocks many brands you may have never heard of before, in addition to all of the big names. We want to open our users’ eyes up to developing labels and provide them with a chance to wear the designs they can’t just find on the rack.

A significant difference is that we give our users free unlimited exchanges. Other services charge users every time they want to swap for something new. We also don’t jack up the prices on our plans depending on which brands of ties you’re partial to. Our competition forces their users into higher-level payment plans if they want to rent the designer labels, like Burberry or Hermès.

Business Model

The Tie Society business model is similar to most membership-based, ecommerce rental services active today. Our profits come from our ability to rent products out multiple times, which allows us to earn beyond our initial purchase price of the items.

Current Needs

We’re currently looking to raise additional investment, as well as bring on a full-time Ruby on Rails developer.

Tie Society – www.tiesociety.com