Featured Startup Pitch: Custom – Personalized search for fashion
Custom is a personalized search engine for people who like to buy fashion online. It aims to return items that are relevant only to you, reflecting your tastes, style, and brand preferences. URL: https://custom.cm/#/
Custom is a personalized search engine for fashion, which aims to take the complexity, frustration, and time out of online clothes shopping. Custom’s bespoke online shopping experience is tailored to an individual’s tastes, brand preferences and size. The site has search at its core, helping users to quickly and easily find the items they love without visiting multiple sites or trawling through irrelevant results. It is early days for the site but it already features half a million items of clothing across 4,000 brands, ranging from luxury retailers such as Ralph Lauren to high street staples like Zara and Topshop. The founders’ vision is to create a shop just for you that always has your favorite brands, where everything fits and the rails reflect who you are. Start by selecting your favorite brands, entering your size and then the search bar does the work, suggesting items to suit your style. The site is intended for a global audience and currency conversion will soon be added to its features.
DIFFERENTIATORS VS. THE COMPETITION
The fashion industry is dragging its heels in offering customers an individual, personalized shopping experience. Type in ‘leather jacket’ and you have to trawl through thousands of results and click on endless filters to find what you like, no matter what site you use. The chances are your search will return the same results as any other shopper and yet your taste and style is unique to you. Currently 89 percent of online shopping starts with search so why aren’t fashion websites giving us more personal, unique options when we’re looking for a fashion fix?
The answer perhaps partly lies in the fact that many fashion aggregators and retail sites are built around the retailer’s needs, not the individual’s, and will push the results which deliver the highest margins to the top of the page, regardless of whether or not they are the right options for the customer. And, of course, it is a tech question too, with powerful search algorithms not easy to build.
Custom remedies this. The more searches you carry out and the more items you ‘like’ or ‘block,’ the more the engine learns and tailors its results to suit your personal style preferences.
It was when searching for a winter coat for his wife that Max (who was previously Team Lead for Creative Labs at Google) became frustrated with the lack of personalization and the time-consuming search process currently offered. It took him hours to find something in his budget, in her size and in a style she would like. So he decided to tackle the problem head-on, leaving Google and launching Custom alongside co-founders Andy Weir and Robin Wong, using his many years of experience and industry contacts to help back the venture.
Robin is Custom’s head of product. He has a track record of turning highly complex ideas into simple and elegant user experiences. Aside from co-founding creative digital production agency WEIR+WONG, Robin also regularly coaches startups in user-centered design, Lean and Agile practice.
Andy is Custom’s COO and also responsible for the development of our brand. Andy has vast experience across the creative and operational spectrum, and led the project management team at Agency Republic before co-founding WEIR+WONG with Robin.
INVESTORS: Mark Chalmers, ECD Vice Magazine; Bernardo Hernandez and Charles Wiles, both formerly at Google, are among its dozen investors.
[The business has already raised 170,000 GBP of Angel funding in its first round. The business is now pitching for a second round of funding to take it to the next level, with plans to hire more developers and build a personal discovery feed.]
YEAR FOUNDED: 2014