Fitiquette, a developer of virtual fitting room technology and a TC Disrupt finalist in September 2012, has been acquired by Myntra, one of the big fashion and lifestyle e-commerce companies in India.
Myntra plans to put San-Francisco-based Fitiquette, led by CEO/co-founder Andy Pandharikar, at the center of a new innovation lab in the city, as well as use Fitiquette’s core product on its retail site to drive more fashion purchases online. For now, that retail site is only in India, where Myntra reportedly made some $100 million in revenue last year.
This is Myntra’s second recent acquisition in the U.S. The first, in November 2012, was of New York-based Exclusively.in and its private label brand, Sher Singh. In both cases, the financial terms were not disclosed.
Fitiquette is in a crowded space — or fitting room, as it were. Others coming at the idea of virtual fitting including TrueFit, MyShape, Clotheshorse, True & Co. for undergarments, Meality and Body Metrics.
But with the $1.5 trillion fashion industry still in its early stages of moving to the web — even in the early-moving U.S. only about 10% of its $300 billion fashion market is online — there is a growing need for technology that helps consumers make accurate virtual estimates of how something will look in real life. One of the big gating factors to growth, Pandharikar says, is “lack of personalization.”
From my experience, Fitiquette’s approach is pretty engaging. You start with a mannequin that you customize to your measurements across specific areas like height, hips, breasts and and so on, allowing for minute adjustments for closest accuracy; this is then used to suggest clothing sizes and looks that would fit your shape. When you try the clothes on, you can view the results in an animated, 3D simulation. Future plans had included even more precise ways of getting a more lifelike appearance by way of photographs and video, and the ability to mix and match more clothing together.
The product had still been in pilot mode when it was purchased by Myntra, but it had already gained some traction: a limited beta of attracted some 20,000 users and somewhere between 2 million and 3 million try-ons, according to Pandharikar. And it had already been in discussions with a number of e-commerce players, some well-known, about rolling it out commercially. He says that Myntra approached Fitiquette almost immediately after TC Disrupt, and while Myntra had some customers nearly closed, “it was a deal we couldn’t resist.”
That’s a great exit story for a startup borne out of a fictional product used in a Cisco commercial for virtualization — Pandharikar and his co-founder Anant Kumar met while working at Cisco, and were inspired, when the commercial about the “future of shopping” went viral, to figure out a way of making a cool virtual fitting room into a reality. (There is more backstory here: Pandharikar also had some exposure to the fashion industry while still an undergraduate in India, when he imported and sold leather accessories to finance his way through college.)
Although Fitiquette had been envisioning its technology as a white-label service, it doesn’t look like it will be developing any third-party deals with other e-commerce sites for now. Myntra says it’s seeing 100% growth every six months, with some 30,000 products from 500 brands online, but the acquisition will give it one more way to help remain competitive against the likes of Snapdeal (which recently picked up a $50 million investment led by eBay) and Flipkart.
“Myntra aims to create the most compelling fashion shopping experience for Indian consumers at par or better than global standards,” Mukesh Bansal, CEO and co-founder of Myntra, said in a statement. “Fitiquette has developed pioneering technology for solving the Fit/Size problem online. This acquisition will not only help us improve the experience significantly but will also enhance our technology team with addition of top tech talent.” For its part, Myntra has raised about $70 million from VCs including Tiger Global, NEA-IndoUS Venture Partners, IDG and Accel Partners.