A Q&A with Twice co-founder and CEO Noah Ready-Campbell. The San Francisco-based company was founded in Fall of 2011 and closed a $4 million Series A funding round in late August. Investors include IA Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, CrunchFund and High Line Venture Partners, among others.
SUB: Please describe Twice, and the value proposition you offer to consumers.
Ready-Campbell: Twice is the first concierge-style marketplace for buying and selling secondhand fashion online. Our value prop is all about convenience for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, we offer fashion at 70-90 percent off retail and perks like same-day shipping, 24-hour customer service, and free returns. For sellers, we offer the convenience of selling your clothes for cash upfront without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Twice does all the work of professionally photographing the garments, listing it online and shipping to the buyer.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Ready-Campbell: Since we only buy and sell women’s clothing at this time, our target users are primarily women between the ages of 18-and-45. We do plan to expand to additional categories in the future.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Ready-Campbell: We actually have two main categories of competition in this space: the traditional brick-and-mortar resale and secondhand shops, as well as peer-to-peer exchanges like Copious and Threadflip.
SUB: What differentiates Twice from the competition?
Ready-Campbell: We were the first to build a concierge-style marketplace and we are 100 percent focused on it, unlike the peer-to-peer exchanges. This focus helps us serve our customers better and the efficiency of our buying and selling experience is what has fueled our growth so far. We also differ from traditional consignment in that we pay sellers for their clothing upfront. Typically, consignment stores only pay out when an item is sold and they take a cut of the final purchase price. We offer more than 8,000 garments on our site.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Ready-Campbell: Twice was founded in September 2011 and launched in March 2012. My co-founder Calvin and I originally met at Google, and early on, we decided we wanted to build a business together. Our first idea, which was in the micro-payments space, did not gain the traction we were looking for, so we pivoted and the concept for Twice just took off like wildfire.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Twice? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Ready-Campbell: We were really inspired by the collaborative consumption trend, and startups like Zipcar and Airbnb. The average family throws away over 175 pounds of clothing every year—for many people, there’s simply no convenient alternative to getting rid of unwanted clothing.
We knew we wanted to apply the concept of reuse to apparel with a socially responsible component, but we didn’t want to do a peer-to-peer marketplace. Honestly, most people don’t have the kind of time needed to sell efficiently on a peer-to-peer marketplace. It is often more trouble than it’s worth to photograph, upload and list items for sale on eBay or Craigslist. We just knew there was an opportunity to be 10 times better by handling that process ourselves, and making it a much easier experience for sellers.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Ready-Campbell: We wanted to build a business that would help people reuse things, rather than just throwing them away. This gives our garments a second life, so they can be used twice.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Ready-Campbell: Operationally, the secondhand sale of fashion is challenging because each item is a one-off, meaning that we can’t use traditional ecommerce fulfillment techniques. Seventy-five percent of our team is focused on operations, and we have built out 100 percent custom inventory processing and management tools. No other third-party logistics provider can come close to matching the cost-efficiency ratio we’ve achieved in this short amount of time. Now that we’ve got the process down, we estimate that our garment processing cost is 75 percent less than our nearest competition.
SUB: You recently raised $4 million in Seed funding. Why was this a good time to raise outside funding, and how do you plan to use the funds?
Ready-Campbell: Yes, we felt the time was right for us to raise outside funding so that we could continue to scale the business and develop new site features that would further improve the buy and sell experience on Twice. We are looking to bring on more designers and engineers to build out the product team. Our other priority is building out the site’s inventory so that when somebody comes to our site, we have exactly what they’re looking for. Given that all of our inventory is one-off secondhand goods, we just need to have a large volume to meet the demand.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional funding in the near future?
Ready-Campbell: No, right now we’re just focused on building the business.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Ready-Campbell: We are currently generating revenue with 50 percent growth month-over-month since March. Our run rate is over $1 million per year.
SUB: What are your goals for Twice over the next year or so?
Ready-Campbell: For the time being, we are solely focused on making the experience of buying and selling secondhand women’s clothing seamlessly efficient and convenient. It’s an extremely large market, and the challenges are formidable, so we anticipate spending a long time here. Over the next few years, we plan to add in other related verticals, like handbags, jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.
Twice – www.liketwice.com