Ideeli’s Paul Hurley Talks About Winning Over Investors and Making His Mark in Online Fashion

The dynamics of shopping, especially for fashion, may never be the same again with growth of websites such as New York’s ideeli, which offers limited time “flash sales.” The five-year-old company carries the clout of venture backing that lets it strut through the industry with the confidence of a runway model. “Flash sales are part of a major disruption happening in retail,” says Paul Hurley, CEO and co-founder of ideeli.

Much like photographers maneuvering for position along the runway, investors have stepped up to capture pieces of ideeli. Founded in 2006, ideeli offers daily flash sales to its members for luxury apparel, accessories and other wares and competes with the likes of Gilt Groupe. Ideeli has gained momentum with investors as it has grown. The company raised $3.8 million in 2007 in a round with Kodiak Venture Partners and angel investors and then another $20 million in 2009 with investors that included StarVest Partners, Constellation Growth Capital, and Kodiak. And in April it raised $41 million in a round led by Next World Capital with participation from Cue Ball Capital and prior investors.

The early financial backing, Hurley says, ran counter to perceptions during the mid-2000s when few saw room for new players in the e-tailing space. “In 2006 and into 2007, when we started to talk to investors at that point there had been virtually no investment in e-commerce,” he says. “It was felt that Amazon had won the war.

Hurley says though investors were initially skeptical of … Next Page »

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