The Fancy spreading its wings in France

Dec 12, 2012
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One of the hottest curation startups at the moment is New York-based The Fancy, a site that seeks, via a visually and technologically elegant platform, to entice people to share and, ideally, purchase actual or similar items to what they ‘fancy’. Although the sharing of beautiful ‘things’ is an integral part of the Fancy experience, unlike some of their social curation peers (Pinterest!), they are more deliberate about their aspiration to become an effective, leading social commerce platform. Or, as their CEO Joe Eisenhorn calls is ‘demand-driven commerce model’.

Another interesting tidbit about the Fancy is that unlike many social shopping sites, their user-base skews more male (a split of 55% men / 45% women) and now even includes some notable ‘power users‘ which include Henri-Pinault (of course), Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Kanye West. Having raised an impressive $44 million to-date, including a $10 million strategic investment from PPR, and recruited a board that includes such big names as Jack Dorsey, Chris Hughes, Francois Henri-Pinault, and Amex vice-chairman Ed Gilligan, their model looks to be a winner. With their user base having grown in 18 mos to nearly 3 million and who spend a reported total of $75k/day on their platform (as of late last summer), it’s not surprising that acquisition rumors have already started circling. However, Einhorn clearly prefers to keep his head down and focus on evolving the platform and expanding their footprint around the globe. When looking at where to go next, launching in France is not only a logical, but important step for them.

Although there’s a wide-range of items at various price points posted and sold on their site, a good chunk of their featured products are luxury items. Given their strong backing from PPR and M. Pinault as well as the fact that France is still the heart of the global luxury industry, France is, not surprisingly, a priority market for them. As a result, they decided to task French entrepreneur Paul Dupuy to lead their expansion effort here. As the Fancy already has a core set of users in France (mostly acquired via word-of-mouth), Dupuy stresses that much of the emphasis here will be focused on recruiting more high-quality brands and stores to their platform and looking at innovative, effective ways to expand their user base. For example, Dupuy expects that several newly added features, such as gift cards, their ‘Fancy Box’ (real products, not samples), and their Amex cash-back programs, will prove to be as popular in France as they have been in the States, ultimately helping to draw new users. Finally, as the commerce aspect of their business will become increasingly important, he anticipates that expanding their logistical facilities outside the US will quickly become a top priority for them.

Dupuy sees that France offers a lot of opportunity, particularly as curation-focused, social shopping is not yet as entrenched in France as it is on the other side of the Atlantic. However, their success here not only hinges on drawing new users, but also making sure that the content on the site, namely the brands and products they feature, are top-notch. Given their relationship with PPR, I suspect they’re already way ahead of any other competitors on that front.