Metail, a tech startup that provides fashion retailers with a platform their customers can use to “try on” clothes online, has secured a further £7.5 million in funding from Hong Kong clothing manufactuer, Tal Group, bringing total investment in the company up to £12 million.
The East London company’s technology provides online shoppers with a virtual 3D ‘MeModel’ of themselves that is said to be 94 to 96 percent accurate, depicting features such as the shopper’s hair colour and skin tone.
Since launching in 2008, the startup has attracted the custom of several large UK fashion retailers, including Clothing for Tesco, Warehouse and House of Holland.
However, now it wants to expand overseas and develop its mobile product on the back of support from forthcoming investors.
Tom Adeyoola, co-founder and CEO of Metail, told Techworld that he turned down UK venture capital firms because they offer little beyond money.
“UK venture capital is highly populated by money men in the main and the ones I've met don't have the contacts I would expect to help me drive my business, plus their terms are predatory,” he told Techworld.
“From an investor you ideally want money on good terms where your incentives are aligned and the ability to help your business through contacts and 'been there, done it' mentorship.”
Adeyoola said he had conversations with a number of UK VCs when the company was first finding its feet and again at the end of 2012.
“I found the level of conversation pretty disappointing, given how much the space is heralded,” he said. “My 'favourite' conversation was with one of the bigger UK VCs where they were trying to tell me how I needed to change my go to market strategy to focus on Net-a-Porter, when they had never heard of Next, the UK's largest clothing retailer.”
Adeyoola claimed that many of the people working in UK venture capital companies are “ambitious Oxbridge and MBA types who’ve never run a business but are great at back of the envelope calculations”.
The main venture capital companies in the UK tend to be headquartered in the London's exclusive Mayfair area. They include the likes of Accel Partners, Index Ventures and Balderton Capital.
“I know one startup who had Accel as an investor and the partner never showed up for a single meeting,” claimed Adeyoola. “I know another founder who rejected an investment from Index because he was going to face having a 20-something MBA on his board rather than someone who could actually add value.
The VCs in Sandinavia, the Far East and west coast US surpass those in the UK because they have better operational contacts and mentoring capabilities, according to Adeyoola.
In his latest funding round, Adeyoola went to Hong Kong in search of the right investor.
“I've managed to deliver a big strategic investor in Tal Group from Hong Kong, who are one of the biggest clothing manufacturing companies out there making one in six men's dress shirts as well as being the major vendor to Burberry and Brooks Bros to name just two of their clients,” he said. “They buy into our long-term vision, can help the business particularly with reference to garment sizing and our eventual launch into menswear.”
Delman Lee, president and CTO at Tal, said his company shares the same values as Metail on data, R&D and sizing.
“We look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on our industry and we look forward to helping them with the eventual move into men's clothing,” said Lee.
Image credit: Metail