Q&A with EDITD co-founder Geoff Watts
EDITD serves up real time information and analysis on trends and market dynamics for the fashion industry. They recently secured $1.6 million in seed funding. The London-based company was founded in 2009.
SUB: Please briefly describe what EDITD is, and the value proposition you bring to the fashion and apparel market.
Watts: EDITD connects fashion, luxury and apparel people with the data they need to make better decisions. By applying analysis to social, commercial and creative information, we give businesses the power to quickly understand trends and market dynamics in real time—now, in the past and future. EDITD provides factual, actionable information for trading, product direction and strategic decisions. It’s like a Bloomberg for the fashion industry.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Watts: There’s a number of companies that sell fashion inspiration to the fashion business, but the critical thing that’s so important to the value of our product is the real-time strategic information that’s especially for product design, merchandising, buying and strategy.
Trend forecasting companies that you know now like Stylesight aren’t competitors—inspiration and runway shots are important, and we cover that ground too, but that way of operating has become less relevant as the entire industry becomes so much more rapid and less seasonal.
SUB: What differentiates EDITD from your competitors?
Watts: Currently, fashion retailers and designers forecast what garments they should stock or produce based on instinct and what sold last year or last season. As a result, often the wrong designs are put into production, which is extremely costly when they must be discounted or disposed of. Half of all garments sold at retail are sold at discount (U.S. market, Bain & Co), so this problem is epidemic.
EDITD provides real-time information, which is fast becoming critical for apparel companies. As in other industries, apparel is moving to just-in-time manufacturing and replenishment, both in the high end as well as the mass market. This change represents an opportunity to use data to make decisions that are closer to the commercial reality, and trade more competitively.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind EDITD? Was there an “aha” moment, or was it a concept that was a long time in developing?
Watts: (Co-founder Julia Fowler) is a fashion designer, and we started the company to address her frustration in the lack of provable, factual data to make commercial decisions about fashion. The reports available were all based on intuition and were often written up to 18 months in advance. There was no concrete data and nothing even close to real-time information. My expertise in building technology that exploits big data helped the idea become a reality but the process is ever evolving as the industry changes.
SUB: When was EDITD founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Watts: EDITD was officially founded in 2009, but the idea had been in incubation for a couple of years before that. After relocating from Australia to London, we put the plan into action, Julia worked full time on development of the concept while I developed the software in evenings and weekends while I worked as a consultant on other projects.
SUB: How are you marketing your services?
Watts: We’re lucky enough to have great word-of-mouth and PR, the buzz surrounding the company is a great driver for the business.
SUB: You recently closed a $1.6 million seed funding round. How do you plan to use the funds?
Watts: Doubling down on our data, and expanding our team and the breadth of our product. We’re hiring, actually, so anyone keen to apply should check out our site (http://editd.com/jobs).
SUB: How was the company funded to this point and why was this a particularly good time to seek outside funding?
Watts: We funded it personally. The timing for our business was right to raise outside capital, we knew we could accelerate growth and improve the product significantly with investment.
SUB: Do you plan to seek more funding in the near future?
Watts: We’re always looking to have the best people involved in growing the company.
SUB: What have the biggest obstacles been so far to building EDITD?
Watts: It’s taken us thousands of hours to get the product to the point where we are expressing data in a way that fashion natives can understand.
SUB: Where do you see EDITD in about a year from now?
Watts: We are planning to grow the business over the next 12 months, this involves expanding the amount of data that we capture and analyze, increasing the client portfolio and obviously, growing the team.
SUB: As an entrepreneur who has successfully navigated the bad economy, what advice do you have for those entrepreneurs just starting out?
Watts: It’s conventional logic now that the best time to start an innovative business is when the economy is “bad”—there are tons of benefits that I won’t reiterate, but one of the important ones for us is that we’ve been able to innovate while your competitors are shoring up.
The product we have increases efficiency and profitability for the fashion industry, which is always welcome in a bad economy—so I think the confluence of the timing has been great for us.
Timing isn’t something you can rely on, so the best advice to anyone starting out is to just go for it, and take advantage of the environment around you.
EDITD – www.editd.com