As one of the first companies to join Catapult, StyleSeek is well known in our startup community. The personalized e-commerce site for lifestyle products, specifically fashion for men and women, has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2011.
We were able to sit down with Tyler Spalding, CEO and Co-Founder, to get an inside look into this innovative company. The main idea behind StyleSeek is to try to build a relevant system and sort through everything available on the Internet. Spalding has a background in data analytics and algorithms and wanted to put it to use somewhere. He began with clothing because there was good market opportunity, good structure data, and good consumer data. So far, the consumer responses to StyleSeek have been favorable. Since they’ve created a relevant system that isn’t invasive, meaning that StyleSeek doesn’t scrape information from you, they have been able to cut through the clutter on the web and sell a lot of clothing and accessories.
What differentiates StyleSeek from other companies in the industry is approaching lifestyle products from a new angle. Being a data driven company, StyleSeek relies on the data to tell them everything about consumer preferences. Part of what makes StyleSeek so unique is their StyleGame: a nine-step quiz that identifies your personal style by presenting pictures, not necessarily related to fashion, that you choose from between recognizable items such as 500 Days of Summer and Roman Holiday, a Range Rover and a Maserati. The StyleGame creates the user's "Style DNA", customizing the user's preferences, in order to make the shopping experience unique for each individual user.
Even though StyleSeek has made a name for itself in the startup community, Spalding still says that there are companies he looks up to. He leans more towards emulating businesses that go after non-consumer plays and solves some sort of a need. Amazon is the first to come to mind, as the online retailer has been able to maintain smaller company culture while being a huge company. Similarly, Spalding looks up to Google for its useable consumer products, continuous reinvention, and creation of products that engage people in different ways.
Currently, StyleSeek has fourteen employees but is looking to expand on the engineering side. They are already a heavy engineering team, but they are searching for people who like prediction and data science—aspects of StyleSeek that really distinguish it from other personalized e-commerce sites. One requirement to fit in with the StyleSeek team: enjoy fast food. When asked what the team’s favorite restaurant in Chicago is, Spalding responds, “Engineers love McDonald’s.” When they’re not sipping on Dunkin' Donuts coffee, the StyleSeek team is writing a ton of code. Right now, the Style Seek team is focused on creating new products in the mobile space as well as handling user experience information.
One of Tyler Spalding’s greatest fears is running out of challenges. Startups always have challenges and he would hate to get to a point where he’s done with StyleSeek and the difficulties that come with it. He always wants to be building something meaningful, continually innovating and engineering. Though running out of challenges is a fear for him, he doesn’t think it will ever happen. There is always something more to do ... and we can’t wait to see what StyleSeek is up to next.