Over the last year or so, I’ve seen a number of new startups launching brand aggregation platforms that, among other benefits, provide consumers with curated product discovery. Many of these aggregation platforms are online marketplaces (the recently announced high profile Verishop is a great example), while others are offline (e.g., Showfields). As online customer acquisition gets more and more difficult and expensive for young DTC brands (see here for more details on that trend), I believe that platforms will become even more important. Young DTC brands will increasingly seek out aggregation platforms that curate products are relevant for their target consumer – and this will be a key way for these young brands to acquire customers.
Given these trends, it’s not surprising there have been many new entrants into the aggregation platform space. Many of these focus on a particular industry vertical (e.g., ethical fashion, sustainability, beauty, fine jewelry). More recently, I’m seeing many more startups in this space focus on a particular customer segment (e.g., millennial discount shoppers). And these platforms are interesting in that they can also build a sense of community among their users, where curated shopping is just one of the key benefits. Allowing consumers to feel a sense of social purpose is another benefit that these platforms can provide. I’m betting that these sorts of aggregation models will be among the next generation of massively successful shopping platforms.
My thesis around aggregation led me to invest in a curated aggregation platform that launched earlier this month: Dough. Dough brings together inclusive, female-founded brands across a variety of categories including fashion, home, beauty and more. You’ve probably heard of some of the brands on the platform (like Dagne Dover and Alex & Ani), but perhaps not others (such as Avery Grey Soapery). The twist to Dough’s model is that becoming a member of Dough (for $89/year) gives you access to discounts, swag, exclusives and perks from all of these brands. The discounts and perks make it easier for shoppers to try new brands and vote with their wallets to support the brands (and the founders) they care about. And the icing on the cake is the community that Dough is creating. Currently, members can nominate other women-founded brands to join the platform and in fact are encouraged to do so. This community aspect will only grow over time.
I invested in Dough and its co-founders Anna Palmer and Vanessa Bruce because I believe the time is right for a curated shopping platform that allows women shoppers to be more intentional in their spending, easily discover new brands across a wide range of categories, while still providing discounts and accessibility. At the same time, Dough is providing a new channel for young DTC brands for building awareness and customer acquisition. And all while building a community of women supporting other women.