“I have nothing to wear!” How many times have you uttered that phrase in the morning, while staring into a packed closet? To alleviate that problem, Marissa Swanson has designed Toss, a personal stylist app that uses machine learning to curate your next winning outfit from what’s already in your closet.
The app employs a unique styling algorithm to put together outfits based on your mood, your errands, the weather, and more. Think Cher Horowitz’s Clueless closet brought to life on your phone.
Swanson, an architect by day, got the idea when studying 3D modeling. “I believed if you could write parameters for 3D modeled objects, why couldn’t you apply it to fashion?” says Swanson.
The app also brings those pieces that you forgot about in the back of the closet, helping you move toward a more sustainable lifestyle. “You not only save time when getting ready, the app capitalizes on what you already own, saving you money from buying new clothes out of frustration,” says Swanson.
The startup recently joined the ATDC accelerator and is well on its way to releasing an alpha version of the app. CEO Swanson shares more about how Toss stands out against the subscription service competition and how they are looking to impact the $1.9 trillion retail e-commerce market.
Year/Date founded? January 2016
Number of employees? 3
What’s your funding history?
We are completely bootstrapped, Toss has been a part-time venture that I have funded with my full time job. Currently we are raising our first round of friends and family, looking to raise a total of $100,000 for 6 months of runway. We will be testing our private Alpha then launching a limited release Beta to the public at the end of the 6 month period. We will begin our second round of funding after the Beta launch.
What’s your pitch?
Toss is a personal styling application that uses your existing wardrobe to curate outfits for you based on event type, weather and mood. By utilizing a unique styling algorithm, in combination with machine learning, Toss gives you the luxury of a personal stylist, in the palm of your hands.
What problem are you solving?
We are solving the problem every day women face when it comes to choosing what to wear. As women, we hold ourselves to certain standards in our appearance and always want to be the best looking versions of ourselves. Our closets are lined with investments in pieces that we love but fail to utilize all of our wardrobe to its full potential. You not only save time when getting ready, the app capitalizes on what you already own, saving you money from buying new clothes out of frustration.
What’s Toss’ market impact and customer base?
We are entering a $1.9 trillion retail e-commerce market, growing to $4 trillion by 2020. We are targeting Millennial women (22 million in the U.S. alone) as they are the largest generation of influencers when it comes to fashion and as they enter their peak consumption age in a few years, they will be buying more than any other generation. Currently women are buying an average of 64 pieces of clothing and accessories each year, equating to an average of $3,300. We believe that a lot of these purchases are made out of frustration of “not having anything to wear.” Instead of contributing to the “fast fashion” phenomenon, we believe in capitalizing on the investment you’ve already made into your wardrobe.
Our main revenue model is Freemium. In the free version users have a limited number of ‘tosses’ (outfit shuffles) where in the premium version, you have unlimited. Premium also has recommendations to “complete your look,” e.g. a statement necklace or colorful cardigan. Each recommendation includes how that new item will fit in your current wardrobe, showcasing 5 unique looks with that recommended piece. Premium is $9.99/month with your first 3 months free. Toss receives a commission for each item purchased through the app.
How did you come up with this idea?
Who are your competitors and why do you stand out?
Currently the cost to hire a personal stylist is not affordable for most women. Other styling services, like subscription boxes, do not lend a sustainable financial model, especially when what they send you isn’t anything you’d like to keep. No service out there uses what you already own to style you accordingly. Through user preferences and continued use, our platform will continue to learn what you like and do not like paired together. Yay for machine learning!
How does Atlanta weave into your story?
I moved to Atlanta in February of 2015 seeking higher profile projects in architecture. After meeting a few people who worked for and ran startups, I started attending any and all events around entrepreneurship, gaining insight on how to pursue my idea for Toss. My major break through was when I attended the Women Who Code Hackathon in July of 2016. Walking away with first place validated that I had what it takes to run with my own idea.
You were just accepted into the ATDC accelerator program — how will this help you scale your company?
A lot of the journey leading up to joining the accelerator has helped me craft many things I never would have been able to do on my own, specifically my 5-year financial model and investor pitch. The ATDC program is an incredible network of experts that truly care about helping you create a product that will have an impact and grow in to a successful business.
I have a very knowledgeable sponsor catalyst, Kirk Barnes, who is helping me outline my key objectives to get ready for our launch. He and the rest of the ATDC community have already connected me to some very important people to help me get to the place I need to be at a rate much quicker than what I could have done on my own. I am excited to continue down this path with ATDC fueling my fire.