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Startup fashion eyewear e‑commerce platform Eponym scoops $1 million in seed funding


Here’s a ques­tion which might exer­cise the grey mat­ter of the aver­age e‑commerce man­ag­er and e‑commerce ana­lyst: what’s best — to focus or broad­en?

Let’s be a bit clear­er. In the mas­sive fash­ion and retail e‑commerce space, does it pay to focus on your own exclu­sive brand and build a com­mu­ni­ty around it, or is it wis­er to “think broad”? War­by Park­er, the start­up fash­ion eye­wear e‑retailer def­i­nite­ly belongs to the for­mer camp, pro­vid­ing cut-price, high fash­ion alter­na­tives to eye-water­ing­ly pricey design­er frames under its own moniker.

How a broad approach can work

But then there’s Eponym, which is also tar­get­ing con­sumers who want design­er eye­wear but is tak­ing a rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent tack to War­by. Where War­by by focus­es like a laser on its own brand, Eponym exists to serve oth­er brands.

Any e‑commerce man­ag­er read­ing this is like­ly to be ask­ing “how?” at this stage. Andrew Lipovsky, epoynm’s founder, offers a soft­ware plat­form (as-a-ser­vice) to han­dle an end-to-end process for design­ers want­i­ng to launch their own unique lines, tar­get­ing the mid­dle range con­sumer.

The team at Eponym begins work­ing with brands at the out­set, liais­ing close­ly with their design teams. Once the plans have been whipped into place, Eponym sets about build­ing bespoke web­sites for them, pow­ered by its own infra­struc­ture.

Tech­ni­cal­ly, Eponym is an umbrel­la com­pa­ny, and it’s one which has achieved remark­able suc­cess over the last three years, despite fly­ing under the radar most of the time. It’s spent that time cul­ti­vat­ing rela­tion­ships and amass­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels and is work­ing with two brands – its own house brand, Clas­sic Specs, as well as male eye­wear designed by the famous Steven Alan (Steven Alan Opti­cal).

Soar­ing suc­cess

And here’s the bot­tom line for the skep­ti­cal e‑commerce man­ag­er: Eponym’s plat­form-based busi­ness mod­el has been a rip-roar­ing suc­cess. Lipovsky says that rev­enues are now expand­ing at a rate of 50 per­cent a month and promis­es the launch of “some excit­ing new things in the near future.”

One rea­son, no doubt, why it recent­ly clinched a $1 mil­lion seed-fund­ing round, with angel investors almost falling over them­selves to par­tic­i­pate, amongst them Gar­ry Tan (the founder of Pos­ter­ous and Y‑Combinator part­ner), Loopt’s co-founder, Sam Alt­man, and Red­dit co-founder, Alex­is Ohan­ian.

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