Texas Update: Localeur, Need Raise New Funds & Plan Expansions
It’s been just over a year since we launched Xconomy Texas. One of the items I’ve recently been considering adding to our roster of innovation coverage is a regular catch-up feature with some of the many entrepreneurs we’ve met.
In this case, both men report new funding and expansion plans. Readers, please reach out if it’s been a while since we chatted.
—Localeur: The travel website that relies on local residents, or “localeurs,” for recommendations expanded into four additional cities last week, bringing its total to 10.
The new outposts are Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, and Miami. And plans are underway to add Washington, DC, Seattle, and New Orleans by the end of summer.
“The network effect is starting to take effect,” Spearman says. “After every city we launch in, we get more buzz in other cities that we’re not in, asking for it.”
In fact, he says Localeur has more subscribers based in London than in San Francisco, a city Localeur added last fall. “They are using us as a source for when they are traveling in the U.S.,” he adds. Not surprising, then, that the British capital is likely the website’s first international destination.
Spearman credits the site’s iPhone app, which was released in January, with helping to expand Localeur’s reach. In order to finance this rapid expansion, Spearman says he has brought on new angel investors—including Michael Brogioli, formerly at Freescale and a Rice University computer engineering professor, and Bart Robertson, a former Microsoft executive—bringing total angel money to $650,000. Spearman says he plans to raise as much as $2 million in venture capital within the third quarter.
—Need: Perhaps it’s not surprising that, in the birthplace of luxury retailer Neiman-Marcus, an e-retailer designed to help men shop better would hit a sweet spot with shoppers. The site features monthly limited collections of menswear and accessories.
The Dallas-based website has raised $400,000 in seed funding, six months after its launch. New investors include Greg B. Abbott, former CEO of Ithaca Industries, a New York private-label apparel manufacturer; Imran Sheikh, U.S. director of retailer Aftershock London; and Mobelux, Need’s technology development partner.
The money will be used to hire up to 10 people and look at expansion opportunities, says Alexander, Need’s founder and CEO. Alexander, who is English, along with Sheikh’s connections, means London is on the table. “We’ll start exploring new demographics, probably coinciding with a Series A,” he says.
Alexander says Need has sold out of each of its six monthly collections, each of which included between 50 and 100 items. “But sometimes shipments would take too long and wouldn’t arrive on time,” he says. “We needed to manage inventory and demand better.”
So, he says Need has revamped its inventory management and brought shipping in-house in order to improve customer service. “It was fun to sell out quickly, but it’s more frustrating for our customers to try to buy something and it’s sold out,” he adds.