Custom jewelry design and marketplace
This is a Title III deal, which means that all investors — regardless of net worth or income — can invest.
Troupe aims to disrupt the $250 billion global jewelry market with self-service design and an online marketplace.
Troupe makes it possible for anyone to design their own jewelry, set up a store to sell online, and shop for other custom jewelry from designers all over the world.
The company’s easy-to-use computer-aided design (CAD) tool works like LEGO. Users take components from its extensive library, or convert their own 2-D images into 3-D, and then “snap” things together.
If you’d like to make a pendant of your dog, for example, you just need to upload a photo of it. Then Troupe uses its high-end 3D printer to turn the design into brass, silver or gold jewelry.
Most of the manufacturing process happens in huge batches, but each piece ends up being hand polished. The product will get polished and plated according to the user’s preferences, and then be assembled into the bracelet, necklace, or keychain of their choice.
The company has a number of CAD tools. At initial launch, it’s releasing two of them: the charm designer and the pendant designer. With these tools, users can make bracelets, bangles, chain pendants and key chains. What users can create in terms of shapes, textures, styles is virtually limitless.
The company’s jewelry supports eight different materials. It uses mostly brass and sterling silver as a base, and offers a variety of finishes including 18-karat gold plating. Everything is then coated in what’s called an “e-coat,” which is an invisible polymer that will help the jewelry wear longer.
Creating a piece can take as little as 10 minutes. Once a user places their order, it’s delivered within 14 days. And when it gets delivered, it looks like it came from a high-end department store.
If you’re aiming not just to make jewelry but to sell it, the design process is the same — but once your design is finished, instead of clicking the “buy” button, you can launch a campaign to start selling your merchandise. From the site, you can track your sales directly. You can watch your revenue come in, and then withdraw your earnings via PayPal.
The global market for jewelry is about $250 billion, and it’s growing at 8% annually. The charm market itself is $17 billion, but Troupe is targeting a far broader market than that: it will be in just about every category — from signets and bands to earrings.
About half the jewelry market is focused on what Troupe calls “outward jewelry,” which is about expressing status and affluence. The other half is about personal expression, and that’s where it is focusing. It believes the personal-expression market is growing far faster than the 8% growth of the industry in general.
Jewelry presents a way of expressing your passion that’s more personal than designing a t-shirt or a household decoration. For example, if a user just got her driver’s license, she could create a pendant with her first car on it.
The company’s audience is anyone who feels strongly about their passions. In fact, it’s planning on launching with affiliate partners who focus on narrow verticals. This way, it can target communities of people who are passionate about a particular thing, and provide them with jewelry designed by a major influencer within that community. For example, it could reach out to sororities, targeting the whole chapter of a hundred girls. That group represents an immediate audience that wants something with their symbols on it, or that commemorates a particular event.
In the 2D world, the market for customizable fashion is already exploding. If you go to Nike.com, for example, one of the key messages you’ll see is to customize your own shoes.
As another example, custom T-shirt maker Teespring has grown to about $300 million in sales over a 3-year period. To get started, it reached out to “influencers,” like the woman who runs the popular website bandmomdesigns.com. She’s an influencer in the high school marching band world, and will sell her shirts to her community. Because she already has an audience, when Teespring finds these influencers, they can make great profits.
Teespring is great at what it does, but it’s got a lot of competitors. With t-shirts, there’s a low barrier to entry, and it’s easy for competitors to enter the market. Troupe, on the other hand, is the first at what it does.
You see, up until now, 3D design for jewelry has been considered too complicated. Troupe makes it easy. And as a pure virtual inventory platform, it expects to become the largest topical jewelry store in the world.
The company’s main competitors today are the charm vendors, but those vendors are limited by their inventory. A user’s ability to get at their specific passion is limited by whatever the vendor carries, whereas the variety in Troupe’s product is virtually limitless.
Another area of competition is 3-D printing companies that allow users to design their own goods. However, taking this path means that users need their own tools, and they need to have professional-level CAD skills. Those platforms are complicated; they’re designed for wholesalers, not casual users.
As Ben Littauer, Troupe investor and member of Boston-based angel-investment group Boston Harbor Angels, said: “Custom apparel is a huge market, but because of the complexity of 3D, the custom jewelry market is wide open. Troupe uniquely brings consumer self-service to 3D starting in jewelry.
The design experience is frankly amazing. It takes what used to be an incredibly expensive and complex process and makes it super-easy and engaging. Not too long ago, it used to be easier to use a professional to book a flight or design a business card. As simple, self-service tools emerged, entire industries became disrupted almost overnight. With Troupe, I can see that happing in the massive $250B jewelry space.
This is a big idea, in a very big market; add to that a game-changing technology and excellent craftsmanship and we have a formula for success.
Troupe is led by Andy Fox, who is a great CEO, technologist, and visionary. Andy has generated great returns for his investors in previous companies he founded, so I’m very excited to be an early investor in Troupe.”
Lauren Nagel – Marketing
Lauren is an experienced consumer marketing executive.
She has held senior marketing roles at Flipkey (acquired by Trip Advisor), Karmaloop.com, PLNDR and Chelsea Row/ Kitsy Lane.
She met Troupe’s founder, Andy Fox, while working at Chelsea Row / Kitsy Lane.
She earned her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and her MBA and Masters in Marketing and Information Systems from Boston University Questrom School of Business.
Andy Fox – Founder & CEO
Andy previously founded several successful startups including Imidio, iconverse, and Technically Speaking.
Four of his startups have been acquired by bigger entities, providing his investors with profits.