A Q&A with NuORDER co-founder and president Olivia Skuza. The West Hollywood, California–based company was founded in 2011 and closed a $3 million Series A funding round in mid-November. Investors include GRP Partners, Greycroft, Aileen Lee, David Tisch and Creative Artists Agency.
SUB: Please describe NuORDER and your value proposition.
Skuza: NuORDER is the future of fashion wholesale for the world’s best brands and retailers. NuORDER takes the entire sales process online and mobile: orders, custom linesheets, product catalogs and inventory, as well as an exclusive marketplace for prospecting new accounts. In short, NuORDER is ecommerce for wholesale.
Our mission is simple: eliminate pen and paper, while driving more sales for brands and allowing retailers to buy more effectively. NuORDER also helps create significant efficiencies, like minimizing mistakes on orders and reducing the time required for all sales activity. Independent research reported a 17.6 percent increase in sales after brands adopted NuORDER.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Skuza: Apparel, footwear, accessories and related brands, along with their respective retail customers around the world.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Skuza: Currently our biggest competition is pen and paper. We are changing an industry that has been working with pen, paper and fax machines for decades. We are helping brands and retailers become more efficient and employ digital and ecommerce thinking into their day-to-day lives—so they can spend their time focusing on more important things.
SUB: What differentiates NuORDER from the competition?
Skuza: We are in a class of our own. Sure, there are other companies out there that claim they offer similar functionality, but if you’re a brand that is serious about your business—especially if you have an international business—we are the most comprehensive, feature rich solution available on the market. When you compare NuORDER side-by-side with any other similar product on the market, no one else offers what we do.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Skuza: The company was founded in 2011. We started out with a six-month beta phase before launching it publicly to the market. During this beta period we worked closely with a handful of high-volume, ‘key’ fashion brands who gave feedback and helped pinpoint anything that need to be changed or added to the solution. We were pretty close at the start, but the beta period allowed us to see the system in action and do some fine tuning. When we hit the market we could stand by our product 100 percent with the knowledge that it was incredibly powerful, intuitive and something prospective clients would see the immediate value in.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for NuORDER? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Skuza: There absolutely was an ‘aha’ moment. Prior to the birth of NuORDER, my co-founder Heath Wells and I owned a successful fashion-orientated marketing and digital agency. The experience of working closely with different fashion brands, retailers, and the largest trade show in the U.S., MAGIC, allowed us to see firsthand how broken the wholesale model was. Immediately we realized that there was a huge opportunity to take business-to-business transactions online. By then we had designed and built many ecommerce websites at our agency, and we asked the question, “why hasn’t anyone applied the same thinking of ecommerce to wholesale?” After some research we quickly learned that the fashion industry was hungry for change.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Skuza: The name ‘NuORDER’ goes back to our agency and to a mentality that Heath and I live by every single day. Our agency’s name was the STATE OF TOMORROW, because we were always thinking about the future—what was new and innovative. At the agency it was about brand building, but we wanted to apply that same innovative thinking to the new product. Obviously the word ‘ORDER’ explains what our product does—it’s an ordering platform, among other things. But that was never going to be enough. By adding the word ‘Nu’—new—we were able to capture the true essence of the business. The product does offer a new way to order, but our objective and mantra is always to be the most innovative and forward-thinking company in wholesale commerce. We felt ‘NuORDER’ perfectly exemplified this. And, it was short and catchy. Through our experience in branding we knew the value of an impactful and relevant name.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Skuza: The biggest obstacle we’ve faced to date is the fact that we are changing consumer behavior. In an industry that has behaved a certain way for such a long time, it’s only natural to encounter resistance from time-to-time. But with any new technology there are always going to be early adopters, and these customers quickly built a very strong case as to why our product helps a brand’s business so much. Today, even in comparison to six months ago, we face resistance a lot less. The market is moving and adapting incredibly fast—faster than we ever expected.
SUB: You recently raised $3 million in Series A funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Skuza: The funds will be used to accelerate our growth. We’ve expanded our product and development teams considerably. We have so much in the pipeline for 2013, for both iPad and web browser. We’ve also grown our sales team substantially and opened an office in New York.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise funding?
Skuza: We have the best product at the right time. The market is now ready for our solution. Prior to the investment, Heath and I were simply bootstrapping the NuORDER company—channeling profits from the agency to fund the development of the product. We found good traction on very limited resources, but the market was demanding NuORDER and eventually we realized that the only thing holding us back was the lack of resources. We knew that in order to acquire more customers—and faster—we needed additional funding.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Skuza: Currently we have an annual subscription-based model—per user fee—that brands pay for. Retailers are free. We have a substantial pipeline of product developments for the next 6-to-12 months that will create significant additional opportunities for revenue generation.
SUB: What are your goals for NuORDER over the next year or so?
Skuza: To cement ourselves as the number one wholesale platform for the fashion industry in the U.S., with considerable growth in the European market. We are also planning to venture into other verticals outside of fashion—we are constantly being contacted to adapt our solution to other markets.
NuORDER – www.nuorder.com