Sure, those thick magazines are great places to catch up on the latest fashion trends — but what if they were updated every day, with the ability to save and buy the items featured inside? That’s the promise of Monogram, a new iPad app released today by a startup with Seattle roots.
The app is a fashion magazine with features and articles produced by experienced writers and editors, and new content daily. But beneath the digital gloss is an e-commerce infrastructure that lets readers click to save or buy those skinny jeans or knit shirts or anything else that strikes their fancy.
The startup will make money on those purchases through affiliate revenue, and its content includes offering from major fashion retailers. Monogram is based in San Francisco, but one of the founders is Leo Chen, a University of Washington grad who moved to the U.S. from his native China at age 9. Chen is a veteran of the Seattle startup scene, previously one of the co-founders of Cheddr Media.
Monogram is an outgrowth of package-tracking venture Fara, which Chen founded with one of his Monogram partners, Josh Chen (no relation). That project is still going, producing steady income each month, but the broader business has taken a different turn.
Monogram was part of the 500 Startups accelerator program and has raised $1.25 million in a financing round led by Quest Venture Partners. Other investors include Great Oaks VC, Initialized Capital, and technology executives including Brian Ma of Seattle’s Decide.com.
Even though the Seattle region has plenty of e-commerce DNA, thanks in large part to Amazon.com, Leo Chen said they opted for San Francisco in part because of the critical mass of social-media companies in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, including Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter and others — a situation that creates “a lot of serendipity” just from the ability to bump into the right people.
A free app for iPad, Monogram is available for download here.