We sat down with Machenzie Casey, Founder of start-up HUMM., to answer a few of our questions.
Can you give us an elevator pitch about HUMM and how you differentiate yourself from other companies in that space?
HUMM. is the first international peer-to-peer high-end fashion rental marketplace, giving women the opportunity to do what they love and look amazing while doing it.
In other words, Sex in the City and Airbnb had a baby and named it HUMM.
HUMM. is a marketplace that connects women who desire to rent an item for a one-off, special occasion to worldwide network of women who are interested in renting out their wardrobe for a fraction of the retail price. We provide access to a never-ending wardrobe of designer and luxury labels and goods, allowing women to freely browse and rent dresses by brand, colour, size and location.
At HUMM. we are excited about the growing competition in the space as it validates not only the retail rental sector but the peer-to-peer market opportunity. At HUMM. we offer a seamless, fully integrated platform where women can purchase their dream wardrobe, rent it out and make a profit, in turn, sell that item when the user wants to move on. We allow women to own their dream wardrobe as well as rent from the closets of stylish, fashionable women.
At the same time, our competitors offer impersonal interfaces, as opposed to HUMM., which focuses on creating an empowering brand image with a more seamless platform where women are in control of their items and can choose who they rent out to as well as offering insurance that covers all minor to major damages.
Given our centralised operating structure and use of third party logistics, we are able to run highly compelling margins that allow us to effectively deploy capital to areas of our business that actually build our brand image.
You’re a sole, non-technical founder which normally makes it quite tough to get funding. Any tips for other founders looking at raising capital?
I believe the most important thing is to be passionate. If investors can see your hunger and passion to succeed, regardless of their knowledge of the space and industry, they are more likely to invest.
My best advice is to be prepared. When I was preparing to pitch to my investors, I made sure that I had a response to every question and had the ability to discuss all aspects of the business from financials to the opportunities in the market.
You moved from Melbourne to New York. Did you have a support network in place? How have you found the move?
No, I did not. However, I have always believed that New York is the springboard for all dreams and a place where every woman has the resources and inspiration to pursue what matters to them. During the winter 2015 visit to the city, I had the opportunity to get in front of several New York hedge fund analysts who then connected me to the founder of THINX, Antonia Dunbar where I was granted on the spot funding. Moving away from Melbourne hasn’t been easy but the opportunities I have found in New York have been unparalleled. Since moving, I have joined a Next Generation group of worldwide entrepreneurs under 25 that has allowed me to connect with startup founders in New York.
How did you go about getting the platform developed without a technical co-founder?
I vetted about 15 of New York’s premium development shops with the CTO of Venmo (as a consultant) and ended up partnering with NYC Dev Shop to create the amazing product that I have today. I feel that my marketing and design background was actually more beneficial than a technical background as my skills combined with the development shop were more than complementary.
Over the last year I have learned in order to make it through the weeds and deal with the extreme volatility in starting your own business, one must keep your nose to the grindstone and put the utmost importance on even the smallest of things. There are no corners that to be cut and no rocks left unturned, a successful entrepreneur must oversee every aspect of the development of his/ her company. In doing so, I’ve encountered countless hurdles that are not adequately described in the confines of this one page article.
To enquire about setting up your own start-up, please contact a member of our commercial start-up team.