tl;dr Teleport just added serious firepower. Excited to welcome in Danielle as my co-founder.
how it started
teleport started as a simple thought: “why does shopping online not feel like shopping in person?” i grew up in korea where shopping for clothes, hanging out, eating were all accessible by walking outside even as a teenager.
online, shopping felt like looking at a boring magazine catalog of squares. i felt like i was buying what everyone else said is good.
the shopping i know taught me about people. how to talk to people, how to negotiate, and how to find gems. and in the process i found a small part of who i am as well.
with that simple idea, i took the plunge to find a product that can make me feel that way. warm and fuzzy while i’m shopping.
entering and exiting the idea maze
over the past 3.5 years, we explored various products in the broader space, but what stood the test of time and of our users was something I never expected when I started the company: an OOTD (outfit of the day) app for gen-z.
(i’ll follow up with a separate post on the idea maze we explored in the future if people are curious.)
post your OOTD
Teleport is “depop meets tiktok.” It’s a lively, authentic playground for all fashion lovers. It’s an unlikely destination where people from different corners of the cafeteria could all hangout and compliment each other on their outfits. It’s a much more warm and fuzzy way to explore your style.
it’s so exciting that over the past few years, our users have discovered their style and creativity for fashion without the pressure of trying to be an influencer. it’s the childhood i had in suburban korea, a fun playground to explore and see what the world is like, and how i want to express myself in this world.
by building this simple “photo booth” app where 4 clips of an impromptu video of your outfit, we had made a warm and cozy fashion corner of the internet where users from dozens of countries all became acquaintances.
as one of our users said: “2 years ago i posted my first teleport, and since then i haven’t stopped posting every day. it’s been wild, i met wonderful people, interacted with so many beautiful souls, found friends, and most importantly i found me. my style grew so so much those past few years, and i’m at a moment i feel confident witht he way i dress!”
with this, i knew we had created something very special.
the product outgrows the maker
while we had built something truly special, we started to hit a plateau. i didn’t know what was going on.
as we continued to build feature after feature, i realized that the product had outgrown my original vision.
i thought the path of the company would be a straight line from building this special “warm and fuzzy” market square to a major competitor in the e-commerce market.
however, building an iconic company in the fashion vertical meant a few new things. we would build for the next generation: gen-z. they were passionate about thrifting and fast fashion (it’s complicated). we would build primarily for young women (the most engaged group + where new cultural phenomenon often start).
i started to feel a disconnect from the user base and where the core product could go from the initial magic that we conjured.
this is when i realized, as the founder i could quit or double down.
i decided to double down, but only with the help with one thought: the company isn’t an extension of me the founder, but it now has a life of it’s own. it is a living organism with its own needs. what it needed was a passionate missionary that can continue the mission but with a focus on young women’s fashion with a strong view of how thrifting and recommerce will evolve online.
the next chapter
from having that thought, many crazy things happened very quickly. our lead investor was supportive of the strategy. I found a stellar co-founder candidate who was working on new fashion resale products at amazon. we hung out in person and went thrifting in nyc. i suggested we work together. she thought about it and decided to make the plunge. despite not knowing her for a long time, i felt certain i found the right person. i felt she was the steward that this community needed to find it’s highest form.
despite a bear market, extension funding came together quickly (and oversubsribed!). after a long period of paused growth, we 4x’d our growth rate in the first month. it felt like we had made the right call.
my new co-founder & me
Danielle Vermeer is quite possibly the most passionate fashion tech person I’ve ever met. She’s also a warm soul, wife and mother to two beautiful kids. She’s an absolute beast at work, and we share the same vision for the future: shopping will be fun, it will be social, it will focus on discovery, and it will make you feel good, not guilty/stale/aspirational. She will be joining as co-founder and as a CEO.
I’ll be staying on as co-founder and am in the process of transitioning to Chairman of the board. I will focus on fundraising, strategy, product, hiring, and helping Danielle become a badass founder very quickly. She’s already been bringing heat in growth and positioning.
I’m so excited about Teleport’s future. Watch us go the distance. Today, we help young women shop clothes online. Tomorrow–godwilling–I see us bumping shoulders with the giants. Let’s have fun building this Danielle!
p.s. thank you
kevin, you were the first check. david, you were my coach. keith, you bet on me when all i had was an idea, and met with me every month through thick and thin. you bet on us again when i suggested we bring danielle in. jeremy, you were the first person who joined the journey and we built so much together. paulo, you built the entire backend and pushed me to become a better founder. ransher+natalie, you joined with zero fear and did whatever it took to move teleport forward. ryan, you brought passion and the creator mentality to teleport. tim, you brought heart and discipline to teleport. vijay, you helped connect eng and marketing into a cohesive process. abdul, rousseau, eddie, blaine, troy, joseph, ashe – i might have been a solo founder, but without your patient listening ear, i would not have made it. thank you everyone.