Retail business data model
Calgarian Cathy Han presented 42 in February last year at Decoded Fashion, a “hackathon” for startups to pitch tech solutions for the fashion and retail industry. With designer Zac Posen as one of the competition’s judges, Canadian model Coco Rocha in the crowd and Marc Jacobs showing off his fall collection in the same night, 42 was selected as a finalist at the Fashion Week event.
“It’s crazy — Fashion Week is everything you see in the magazines, ” Ms. Han, co-founder and chief executive of 42, recalled.
It was a fitting start for a company Ms. Han and Nicolas Porter, co-founder and chief technology officer, have fearlessly taken global from the get-go, both in terms of clients and setting up shop in New York before opening its office in Toronto in June 2013.
Now the Canadian startup has another international achievement to add to the list: Being selected for the latest cohort of Y Combinator, a prestigious seed accelerator program in Silicon Valley.
“We looked around the world for a program to help move the business forward, ” Ms. Han said. “Y Combinator has a history of building products and companies that people actually find a lot of value from, such as DropBox and AirBnB. We’re incredibly excited.”
The company’s Web platform takes bricks-and-mortar retailers’ raw point-of-sale data and turns it into easy-to-read insights, such as identifying who top customers are and what products are driving sales growth. The aim is that merchants can take this actionable data to better personalize in-store experiences.
Ms. Han said the idea was partly inspired by her experience working at Procter & Gamble, where she poured over spreadsheets to help large retailers identify gaps in their business. It helped her envision a data platform that would free businesses from sifting through numbers so they could instead spend time figuring out solutions themselves.
“Working with the data was so hard and it crashed my Excel all the time. I never had a tool that was powerful enough, ” the 24-year-old Sauder School of Business graduate said.