The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.
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Name: Cut On Your Bias
Quick Pitch: Vote on a range of design goods mockups, and purchase the ones voted most popular by the community.
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Genius Idea: Have a role in the item of clothing or piece of furniture you buy next.
After 10 years designing for the likes of Calvin Klein, John Varvatos and Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Monoyudis did in late 2010 what many at his stage his career do: Decided to develop his own collection.
But Monoyudis, who holds degrees from both Harvard and Parsons, was quickly bewildered. "I had all of these sketches and swatches in boxes in my little room. I was so overwhelmed by choices," he recalls. So he called his friends, the very people he imagined would be his target customers, and asked them for feedback -- what palettes they liked, what kinds of collars they preferred.
Then he asked himself, "Why don't I build an interface to do this virtually?" After conferring with his designer friends, who were eager to have access to such a tool for the development of their own collections, he decided to build Cut On Your Bias. The site launched in February.
Cut On Your Bias describes itself as a "crowdsourced social commerce platform" for clothing and home goods that allows consumers "to interact on preproduction decisions with the designer themselves, creating an opportunity for virtual collaboration between consumer and designer."
In reality, Cut On Your Bias isn't quite so interactive, but it does give you a bigger role in the design process. After signing up for the site, which you can do simply by logging in through Facebook, you can browse the week's designs up for vote. Some designers allow you to vote among a range of colors; others let you go so far as choosing size, silhouette, material and color, for example with the Graf & Lantz handbags below:
The combinations with the most votes are made available for pre-order in limited editions of 25 to 50 the following week. Those who voted on the winning design will receive some form of discount. Designers handle production and shipping on their own. Products are guaranteed to arrive in eight weeks or less for fashion, and 12 weeks or less for home.
The model is similar to the one developed by FashionStake. Before it was acquired by Fab.com earlier this year, shoppers could vote on three similar designs -- say, three takes on the classic white button-down shirt, or three black dresses -- from three different designers on a weekly ballot. Voters who selected the winning design could then purchase the piece at a 30% discount after the polls closed.
Monoyudis says there are two big difference between Cut On Your Bias and FashionStake. One is that Cut On Your Bias is focused on creating unique capsule collections with designers. The second is that it's attacking the production process higher in the supply chain. Designers don't have to create samples of potential merchandise -- they can exhibit drawings or digital renderings instead.
Tell us: Do you find Cut On Your Bias's proposition appealing? Would you like to have more control over the design of the clothes and home goods you buy? If so, how?
Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.
This story originally published on Mashable here.