BeautyMatter: Give us your TrendSeeder elevator pitch.
Matt Jung: TrendSeeder is a platform that collaborates with fashion, beauty and digital innovators through education and community. We are empowering a new generation of brands through our relationships and expertise.
BM: You have had success in the fashion vertical with TrendSeeder. Why Beauty? Why now?
MJ: We started in the fashion vertical a few years ago and have built a powerful Program that has been successful in fostering the growth of the companies in our portfolio. We are really excited about what we have done in the fashion space and are ready to do the same in beauty. The reason we even began to consider moving into the beauty industry was because beauty executives and startup founders were asking us to dedicate a program to the sector. There was in-bound interest that we could not ignore as it is always crucial to listen to the market. Beauty and fashion have many similarities and so we thought it was a perfect next stage for the TrendSeeder Program.
BM: What is your definition of an incubator?
Our definition of an incubator is an enterprise that is set up to provide startup companies with office space, potentially startup capital and maybe some mentoring.
BM: How is TrendSeeder different than incubators?
MJ: The foundation of TrendSeeder is education, mentorship and community – it’s not about office space. Unlike incubators, we are very hands on with the startups in our Program. In addition, startups in incubators tend to be very early stage and just starting out. TrendSeeder can provide the most value for companies that already have a product and some traction by helping them scale efficiently and effectively.
BM: What are your criteria for choosing participants?
MJ: When we are evaluating companies we look for companies in the fashion or beauty industry that have a unique value proposition. The unique value proposition can be anything from a differentiated supply chain to a patented technology, like a high heel shoe that converts into a low heel. The participants also are founders that we strongly believe in and who are open to mentorship. In addition, we assess the market size and opportunity, competition, and potential exit opportunity.
BM: Who is the ideal candidate for TrendSeeder and who’s not?
MJ: The ideal founders for TrendSeeder are those who are open to advice and mentorship from our deep roster of over 150 industry mentors. They also have an established product with proven traction in the market. Importantly, we want to make sure that TrendSeeder can deliver on our end as well. We would not invite a company to participate if we didn’t believe we could be helpful.
BM:What should an entrepreneur expect to get out of an incubator?
MJ: Companies should find incubators that address the needs or the holes they have in their business. In addition, they should utilize the expertise provided by the incubator to build their business in the most efficient and effective manner.
BM: What does success look like to you for a brand that participates in TrendSeeder?
MJ: For a company that participates in TrendSeeder, success is scaling their business faster and more efficiently than if they hadn’t joined the Program. We would expect to see our businesses grow revenue and profit in a meaningful way.
BM: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs interested in exploring an incubator path?
MJ: For any entrepreneurs interested in exploring an incubator path, we urge that they really get an understanding of what the incubator is bringing to the table and know what it is that you want to get out of the program.
BM: What has been your biggest success story?
MJ: Our biggest success story to date is probably Naadam Cashmere from our 2015 Fashion Program. Prior to joining TrendSeeder, Naadam had a powerful brand story, foundation and six figures in revenue. During the Program we had the founders works closely with the CMO of a major fashion company, a well respected digital marketing expert and Steven Alan to help drive growth. Since the Program, they more than doubled revenue in 2015 and are on track to do the same in 2016. In addition, they have successfully launched e-commerce and have rolled out distribution in Steven Alan boutiques.
BM: What’s next for TrendSeeder?
MJ: There are a lot of great things coming from TrendSeeder. This will be the first time we are launching a Beauty Program. In addition, we are opening up memberships for people to access the TrendSeeder ecosystem, professional development and educational opportunities. Lastly, the new professional development series from TrendSeeder and our legal partners called FashionSense 360 starts this September. We are very excited about everything happening!