Don’t have time to obsess over the latest fashion trends? Launching today, a new service called Ajent is bringing curated style options to busy professionals.
Most e-commerce sites focus on breadth and offer a massive database of fashion items, typically imported by the community or a developer scraping the web. Polyvore, for instance, is updated with over two million new items each month.
Today’s look is “Emerald”; users can peruse a shortlist of affordable deep green shirts, a kimono, pants and shoes, and even plan a trip to the Emerald Isle.
Ajent’s founder Meghan Higney (pictured above) hit on the idea for the site when she was bedridden for several months after breaking her back. The former private equity professional said she felt “overwhelmed” by the clutter on the Web and yearned to have a personal style hunter to source the best deals, delivered straight to her inbox.
So Higney quit her day job to develop the site and daily newsletter. She tested the beta on 200 users — men and women — and brought on a team of five staff members, including a front-end designer and several fashion editors. Each day, Ajent’s human editors pore through magazines, street style blogs, arts and culture, and more for inspiration.
Ajent is a bootstrapped effort, and the next step is to hire engineers to build an algorithm (inspired by Netflix or Pandora) to offer personalized style recommendations. This will differentiate it from sites like Stylefeed that help users curate fashion by searching for deals from their favorite designers.
“The really interesting piece will be when Ajent brings you items on a day-to-day basis that you have told us specifically to look for,” said Higney over coffee. Ajent will also be aware of users’ size, budget, and style preferences.
To make money, the team is also considering rolling out a concierge-style service. If you’re looking for a leather skirt for spring, an Ajent style hunter will source the best deal and style from the Web and offer suggestions for items that will complement the look. It’s a similar business model to Zirtual, a virtual assistant service that is growing quickly and recently raised funds from Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh, among others.
In the future, Ajent will also benefit from building its own buying and selling platform, so users won’t be redirected to an external site if they choose to make a purchase.
In a recent interview, Forerunner Ventures‘ founder and managing partner said the key for the next wave of e-commerce sites is to “focus on augmenting the traditional shopping experience.”
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition: Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.