Today, LATechWatch introduces its readers to a service that consumers spend over $1.5B on annually, the tuxedo rental market. SimpleTux provides for the ability to rent online and are looking forward to adding a retail presence shortly.
CEO and Founder, Chris Sheng, has bigger plans to attack the larger $64B overall menswear market. He sits down with LATechWatch to talk about SimpleTux and his goal of becoming the “Netflix for menswear”
Tell us about the product or service.
We currently provide online tuxedo rentals, but will be adding a retail element in the next month, starting with accessories, then moving into off the rack suits 1Q 2016 and custom suits by 3Q.
How is it different?
We are the first in our industry to implement an online/direct sales hybrid that merges the comfort and security of brick and mortar shopping with the convenience of e-commerce. Our touch point offers customers a full retail experience, from measurement collection to fit, style and delivery.
What is the business model?
Essentially it’s an e-commerce platform, however, we view ourselves equally as a sales/distribution channel.
What inspired the business?
Several of us had just gone through the rental process for our weddings and mutually agreed that it was a pretty horrific experience. Most of the men we had polled in the beginning also agreed. There are just inherent problems with the traditional tux rental model and we thought we could disrupt that.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
A large part of our strategy is focusing on the high school marketplace. We will be launching our wear the future campaign which is just a much more formal and polished version of our cash for schools program that we had this past year. We want corporate social responsibility to be at the core of our business and giving back to high schools and specifically students is a big part of that.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
This might seem like a bit out of left field, but Ashton Kutcher. He’s mysterious as an investor but has made some very good bets. Plus, I haven’t seen him making many movies anymore so I’m thinking that the VC route is paying off handsomely for him. Those mysterious ones I feel like are the people you have to watch out for. They’re the ones that have a great hand but know how to hide it.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
Los Angeles is this huge melting pot of people with big dreams. Many come, many go, but few were born in Los Angeles. We grew up here, most of us born here. So to us, we believe not only is our company “Made in LA” but so are we. We are a part of the history, culture, future that encompasses everything LA is and has to offer.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
There is no one thing that can be done. I believe every startup knows this. Typically they say to try 10 marketing ideas and maybe one will stick. Figure out what works for you. Know your story. For us, our marketing objective from the get go was to reach a large number of potential customers, at one location, at one time – which is why high schools. This has now become an instrumental part of our overall sales strategy.
Where is the best place to watch the sun set in Los Angeles?
Anywhere really. But if I have to pick, I would have to go with my hometown of Palos Verdes. With cliff side views like the Italian Riviera, it really doesn’t get much better.