Jaqard, emerging Italian startup in fashion industry, among winners of AppCircus 2014

Pubblicato il 15 Feb 2014

Jaqard, announced few days ago, to be among winners of the AppCircus Online Competition 2014 and will take part to the final step at Mobile Premiere Award in Barcelona 24-27 Febbraio 2014, one of the biggest app show on earth, within the Mobile World Congress.

This App (iOS), is a visual Q&A for fashion that leverage on the perennial question: “What would match with my new dress?”

Everyone can challenge the community with his handpicked photos and everyone can become an influencer stylist giving advices to others. Social sharing and engagement that finally lands on fashion, brands, shopping, e-commerce.

An idea that makes sense.

However, the genesis of this startup was quite troubled and is a nice case of pivoting, as Mauro Longone, co-founder and CEO, tells Startupbusiness in this interview.

Hi Mauro, tell us more on Jaqard story…
Jaqard is born out of a previous startup called Style4Real. In spite of the efforts and participation in finals of national Italian competitions in 2012, among which Wind Business Factor, Intesa Sanpaolo Startup Initiative and Mind the Bridge, the community never took off as we had hoped. Analyzing the causes, it became clear that there were issues with the business model and the user engagement, which made us reconsider the whole project. After a few months, we decided to make a decisive pivot and start from scratch leveraging the experiences we had.

We wanted to create a platform that allowed people to exchange fashion suggestions in a brand new way, more efficiently and simply than was available on the market. We needed a solution of this kind. Too many photo-based apps (as was Style4Real), imitated the, slightly vain, logic of Instagram. Our idea was to make available for everyone, a team of stylists, ready to give advice and useful ideas to add the special touch to one’s style. Neither a magazine, too static and one directional, nor a forum, which lacks the necessary visual component of fashion, would do. There was a need for a different and innovative solution, based on a community that allowed the ability to express the intuition of the many fashion lovers out there.

In the meanwhile, Marco joined the team, a new designer who Stefano had collaborated with on some projects. After many brainstorming sessions, we came up with Jaqard, the first community for exchanging fashion advice in a completely visual way: ask a question with a photo (e.g. “which way could I match the new shoes?”) and receive answers of selections of clothes from a mega catalogue within the app, connected to the best brands and online retailers.

The first concept came out July 2013, whilst in October we had the first alpha in the app store, thanks to the experience now gained in developing advanced social platforms. After the initial feedback, we dedicated ourselves to the UX, which is very distinctive and unique in the app world. Our efforts were rewarded straight away and in January we won the online competition of the App Circus circuit. A few weeks later, the real big surprise: we were selected, only Italians, for the finals of the Mobile Premier awards in Barcelona, the international competition for the most important apps in the world. As fate would have it, the best possible moment, since it meets the timing of our first really solid and proven version of the app being launched.

How are you going to make money?
The business model is three pronged, and sequenced over time.
• The first, already implemented, is via affiliation. Jaqard contains within the app, a mega catalogue, which aggregates, via our own software development, dozens of online retailers from all over the world. Without ever having to leave the app, one can browse simply and intuitively amongst thousands of items to then recommend to other members of the community or keep in an own wish list. Every item is connected to the page of the online retailer where one can purchase directly via the app – and soon also via the upcoming web site. In the event of purchases, we gain a commission on the sales.
• The second, arriving end 2014, will be the integrated offer of emerging brands, which are hard to find, and which will be present for limited times only. We do not intend to compete with online fashion outlets on past collections at reduced prices. We actually want to propose highly creative brands that are struggling to make it into the tough global fashion industry. We want to be a showcase for quality and creativity, within the style advice experience that is Jaqard.
• In 2015, when we hope the user base will have significantly increased, we aim to earn also as an interactive and unconventional marketing platform, for example launching contest and promotions tied to popularity and other engagement mechanisms for the community. Also in this case, we are studying an innovative solution that ties exclusivity and the “collector spirit” of Foursquare badges, with promotions, prizes and coupons.
We also keep our eye on the iBeacon, which could become a bridge between physical and online retail outlets in the future. But at this time, we remain focused on e-commerce, because it can provide a good start and solid growth.

What does this AppCircus Award mean to you and your team?
We are incredibly satisfied to have won the online App Circus and gained a place at the Mobile Premier Awards 2014 in Barcelona. There is no better confirmation for the work we are doing for Jaqard! This gives us additional motivation to keep going and improve our app and our coming web site. This will be a unique opportunity to launch our first community of fashion advisors internationally. We will be there to represent Italy at our best, we believe in ourselves and we aim to win.

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