Dallas Start-up Success

Lifestyle site Need carves out sustainable place in multibillion-dollar menswear industry

Need carves out sustainable place in competitive menswear industry

Jiberish spring buds blue shirt on Need
Lifestyle site Need offers a single monthly collection of hand-selected men's apparel. Photo courtesy of Need
Cereal No. 5 magazine available on Need
Need also offers items such as magazines. Photo courtesy of Need
Matt Alexander, Men of Dallas Campaign at Pockets
Matt Alexander founded Need in November 2013. Photo by Jason Acton
Jiberish spring buds blue shirt on Need
Cereal No. 5 magazine available on Need
Matt Alexander, Men of Dallas Campaign at Pockets

Another startup is proving that it’s good to do business in Dallas. Need, which launched last November, has closed a round of funding that will allow the men’s lifestyle site to add staff, reinvest in its proprietary technology, and expand retail and editorial offerings to other cities.

Leading this investment charge alongside London-raised founder Matt Alexander was New York-based investor and apparel industry veteran Greg B. Abbott; Aftershock London CEO Imran Sheikh; and Need’s technology partner, Mobelux. To date the company has raised more than $500,000 from venture capital and angel investors, including several from Dallas and German venture group Venista Venture.

Alexander says he’s proud to have built something sustainable, unique and profitable without a disproportionately huge amount of funding.

Founder Matt Alexander says he’s proud to have built something sustainable, unique and profitable without a disproportionately huge amount of funding.

“Prior to our initial launch, I was warned incessantly that I was entering a ‘crowded market’ and that I’d have to unseat many incumbents,” he says. “As such, I’d need an enormous amount of capital.

“The truth is, though, that the menswear industry is worth roughly $130 billion. And, as we’re all abundantly aware, men still hate to shop. So that leaves plenty of room for experimentation, partnership and growth. And the economics simply do not require enormous volumes of venture funding.”

Until now, Alexander was the sole employee of the company, which offers one curated collection of men’s apparel monthly. In the last six months, the site has sold out of each collection using only a single email to solicit purchases.

Items available on Need are exclusive to the site or otherwise hard to find online. Retail partners include Bridge & Burn, Field Notes, hook+ALBERT, Noble, Nudie Jeans Co., Realm & Empire and Rye 51. There is also an editorial component called Imprint.

Following the success of Vol. 3 in January 2014, which featured an assortment of literature, coffee and desktop accessories, there are plans to sell those types of items year-round — billed as lifestyle “staples.” These offerings will follow the same formula as the apparel — interesting brands and exclusive partnerships — but they will be available on a continuous basis, to help bridge the shopping gap between monthly collections.

As part of this initiative, Alexander says there are some collaborations in the works, including a co-branded line of coffees. And propping up local and regional “creators” has always been part of his mission.

“We’ve raised half a million not to dismantle and defeat those around us,” Alexander says. “Rather, we want to support a growing community of creators — whether they’re focused on brands, businesses or art — on a local basis.

“We want to provide something fundamentally reliable, dignified and useful, while also encouraging fantastic writing, photography and design in amazing cities around the world.”

Need has also formed a strategic partnership with Greg B. Abbott to explore new consumer-focused opportunities in the fashion and media industries. Need’s proprietary platform will drive the new joint venture, the details of which Alexander hopes to announce in the coming months.

“In an age of sky-high valuations and enormous rounds of funding, Need has shown that with a strong concept, disciplined approach and solid strategic partnerships, it’s irrefutably possible to build a sustainable, well-positioned business,” Abbot said in a release. “I’m excited to be aboard and to support the company’s growth via both direct investment and upcoming collaborative endeavors.”