Co-founded by high school sweethearts Eric and Susan Gregg Koger when they were only 17, ModCloth.com launched as an online clothing, accessories and décor retailer.
While Susan spends her time scouring the world for small designers and great vintage finds to meet the discriminating tastes of their loyal customers, Eric runs the business side of things. Their team of eclectic and fashion-forward employees has grown from just three to over 100 in the past three years, and their website has been visited by more than 10 million women.
Susan and Eric attribute much of their success to the fact that they run their business in a “democratic style” which allows for maximum customer interaction. ModCloth’s Twitter account boasts over 12,000 followers while the company’s Facebook currently shares inspiration with 20,000 fans.
In addition to interacting with customers through social networking sites, ModCloth also requests customer feedback through ModLife Blog, where customers can give product reviews, and through its Be the Buyer program, where customers can vote on potential inventory.
Founders/Ages: Eric Koger, 26, and Susan Gregg Koger, 25
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Startup Year: 2002
Startup Costs: $750
How We Got Started
ModCloth founders Susan and Eric Koger met in high school. Susan spent weekends and summers thrift-store shopping with friends and found herself unable to pass up a great vintage find in any size. Susan’s closet was soon full of vintage wares she could not wear, and ModCloth was started as an outlet for her love for fashion. Eric, however, had a different interest. He adored Susan, and wanted to help her realize her dreams, so in 2002 he designed a web site to help her turn thrifting into a modest moneymaking hobby. They had a sale the first day! And so ModCloth was born.
Top Customer Insights
The first time Susan was recognized on the street by a customer. The customer told Susan that ModCloth helped her find her personal style – and even asked for a picture with her! That really meant a lot to Susan, and it’s her favorite customer interaction.
The biggest start up challenge for Eric and Susan was raising capital to fund the company’s growth as well as finding experienced leaders who also understood e-commerce.
Figure out what you’re really good at and find people who are really good at everything you’re not. Don’t settle until you find the right people (even if nice people offer you free time, be very careful about who you let into your company). When you find the right people, give them ownership in your company through a four year arrangement, so they have to earn their piece of the company over time, but still get to be an owner.
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