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Wikifashion, Uses ASSOB Platform To Raise Funds, Plans To Relocate To New York: Funding

Brisbane start-up Wikifashion shifts to New York after snaring funding

By Michelle Hammond
Friday, 04 May 2012

Brisbane-based student fashion start-up Wikifashion will relocate to New York later this year, after using the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board to set in motion three rounds of funding.


Wikifashion was founded by University of Queensland graduate Madeline Veenstra, 25, and her 27-year-old partner Coen Hyde, who works at fellow Brisbane start-up Kondoot.


Wikifashion encourages people to contribute and edit content about “brands, designers, fashion shows and all things fashion”.


The site allows followers and designers to update clothing from season to season in a bid to provide the most up-to-date information on fashion.


Veenstra says she and Hyde “bootstrapped the whole thing”, putting in around $20,000, primarily for “legal costs, domain names and things like that”.


Now the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board – a Queensland-based investor and business matchmaking venture – has listed Wikifashion for three rounds of funding.


“One of the guys (Hyde) is related to Kondoot, which raised $800,000 on ASSOB and has now gone to prospectus,” ASSOB chief executive Paul Niederer says.


“I think Wikifashion saw ASSOB as a good stepping stone.”


Wikifashion is hoping to raise $350,000 in its first round and $3 million overall. However, Niederer stresses it’s early days for the start-up, which is not yet live on the ASSOB platform.


“At the moment, only friends, family and ‘followers’ have the opportunity to invest… Usually, once they’ve raised between $200,000 and $400,000, they go live on the platform,” he says.


“When people see they’ve raised that amount of money, [investors] look at it and say, ‘Wow – there must be something good here’.”


The first round of funding will see Veenstra, Hyde and a business development director relocate to New York.


According to Niederer, only around 10% of ASSOB companies relocate overseas. However, he described the move as “very congruent” in the case of Wikifashion.


Wikifashion has already secured an unpaid deal with the city’s Fashion Institute of Technology to digitise its physical archives and make them available online.


It is also pursuing a deal with the city’s High School of Fashion Industries to offer internships to secondary students who will facilitate content creation.


On a local front, Austrade has selected Wikifashion as a potential export candidate.


“We’re hoping to relocate [to New York] by the end of the year,” Veenstra says.


“A lot of our users are there, a lot of the brands are there, and the PR companies we work with. Most people think we’re based there.”


Veenstra plans to introduce eCommerce capabilities so the site can generate revenue by earning a percentage from the sale of showcased items.


At the moment, the site only makes enough money through advertising and sponsored content to support Veenstra and pay for its hosting on Amazon cloud computing platform Amazon EC2.


“One of the first things we want to do is hire another developer to help make the site more user-friendly. We have a part-time designer, but I’m the only one working full-time,” Veenstra says.


Wikifashion isn’t the only female-led start-up preparing to head to the United States.


The founders of niche job site HireMeUp will attend entrepreneur convention TiECON in Silicon Valley after winning TiE Sydney’s pitching competition for female entrepreneurs.


Entrants were required to pitch their business idea in a three-minute presentation and a two-minute question-and-answer session.


As part of their prize, HireMeUp founders Fiona Anson and Alli Baker are now heading to Silicon Valley for TiE’s flagship TiECON conference on May 18-19.


This will provide them with an opportunity to meet with angel investors, venture capitalists and strategic investors from around the world.

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