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Curtsy raises 11 million dollars

By Kristopher Fraser

Jan 25, 2021

Curtsy, a clothing rental app aimed at Gen Z women, has raised 11 million dollars in Series A funding led by Index Ventures. Curtsy originated as a way for sorority women to rent dresses from each other, and turned into a full-scale buy-and-sell business.

The new funding will be used to the company to scale and build out its leadership team as they work on growing their market. Curtsy was founded in 2018 by David Oates William Ault, Clara Agnes Ault, and Eli Allen. To date, the app has raised 14.5 million dollars.

“The giants in the clothing resale space have been around for a while and haven’t done a great job appealing to casual sellers or keeping up with the times,” said cofounder David Oates in a statement. “Most apps focus on closet clean out, ignoring the Gen Z use case of rotating their wardrobe.”

Even throughout the pandemic, Curtsy continued to perform well. In October 2020, the company facilitated the sale of 85,000 items, an increase of 35 percent since September.

“Consumer-to-consumer e-commerce, first pioneered by eBay, continues to be unbundled,” said Damir Becirovic of Index Ventures in a statement. “Dedicated platforms are rising that have a tighter relationship with their users and that facilitate more frictionless ways to transact a certain type of good. Curtsy has accomplished exactly this for young women and their desire to buy and sell clothing. Never before have we seen such a strong overlap between buyers and sellers on a consumer-to-consumer marketplace. We believe the incredible love for Curtsy is indicative of a large marketplace in the making.”

The explosive growth the company has seen is a testament to their go-to-market strategy, which is to focus on Gen Z women, aged 15-30, who are underserved by the major players in the retail space. Despite the proliferation of resale apps over the last decade, the status quo is still dropping off bags of clothing at Goodwill — 20 million tons of clothing still end up in landfills each year. In part, this is because existing clothing resale apps demand a lot of work from users in order to sell. Sellers have to figure out how to best merchandise and price their items, grow their audience, and manually fulfill orders. As a result, existing apps are primarily used by professional sellers who are more profit-driven than casual sellers. There is no app focused exclusively on Gen Z women, the fastest growing segment in the space.

Curtsy recognized that buyer behavior had fundamentally shifted — Gen Z buys 60 percent more clothing than previous generations, but keeps them half as long. Existing apps that centered around cleaning out the closet, as opposed to rotation, had not adapted to this shift. Gen Z demands a more sustainable, simple option for clothing resale.

Curtsy radically simplifies selling in order to win casual sellers and unlock their closets. Using machine learning and human review, the app helps sellers effectively merchandise their items. When sellers list items, Curtsy recommends a price and autofills details, like category and brand, to reduce errors. Before items are shown in the app, Curtsy improves the images, fixes issues with the listing, and removes spam. These steps have the effect of standardizing listings across sellers, which makes for a more seamless shopping experience.

Curtsy removes the friction from order fulfillment by providing Curtsy-branded shipping supplies that sellers can use to package their items from home and the app helps them schedule a free USPS pickup, so sellers don’t have to drive to the post-office. Buyers can resell items purchased on Curtsy with one-tap, without having to photograph or describe the item again.

photo: via Curtsy Facebook page