Manish Chandra, founder and CEO of clothing and accessories consignment app Poshmark, pioneered a business model that is dressed for success.
Photo byJen Kay
Since its debut in 2011, Redwood City-based Poshmark has become an established force in the growing social marketplace for people-powered fashion. The app aims to essentially replicate an in-store shopping experience online, complete with a community comprising millions of “seller stylists” and collections that run the gamut from Armani to Zara.
Chandra grew up in India and recalls spending a lot of time with his grand-father in the pharmaceutical wholesale markets of Delhi where he worked. “This sparked an early love of entrepreneurship,” he shares. “Soon after, I created my first small business publishing a local news magazine for our neighborhood.”
At the age of 19, Chandra immigrated to the U.S., earning a PhD in computer science from the University of Texas at Austin. He later pursued a technology career in Silicon Valley, where he remains to this day. “In many ways, moving from India to Texas to Silicon Valley, and in parallel transitioning from semiconductors to enterprise software to fashion, represents something I deeply believe in,” he says. “Namely, embracing your weirdness and being open to new experiences and ideas.”
In true Silicon Valley tradition, Chandra started his first company, Kabdoodle, working in his garage. Initially inspired by a home remodel, it soon found its focus in social shopping to become a fast-growing community of women centered around fashion. After Kabdoodle was acquired by Hearst in 2007, Chandra spent the next several years bringing Poshmark to fruition.
Chandra maintains that fashion is inherently better served by a social discovery process, as opposed to a traditional search-and-browse approach. In addition, he notes that, “There is more than one trillion dollars’ worth of inventory sitting in our closets, unused or barely used. Knowing this, I wanted to build a community-centric platform that combined a social network with a robust marketplace—where anyone could turn their unique style into a boutique.”
In an average day, Poshmark shoppers open the app some seven to nine times and spend 20 to 25 minutes within its ecosystem. One in five new community members joining the platform is male. The company’s well-received introduction of Poshmark Stylist Match, an in-app social styling engine featuring a voice-enabled skill for Amazon’s Alexa, is further propelling growth. Clearly, Poshmark continues to attract covetous glances on the red carpet.
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