Aslaug Magnusdóttir – The Investment Rollercoaster

Following a lovely early morning set from Lay Low, the second day of YAIC 2012 got underway with a talk by Aslaug Magnusdóttir, CEO of Moda Operandi, a high-end online retailer that combines her business experience with a flair for creativity and fashion.

Aslaug talked about her unusual history of moving to the States, living in London, training as lawyer and then working in investments at Vogue group in London. She worked with Bloomingdale CEO Marvin Traub, started TSM Capital, a company that invested in early stage fashion businesses before co-founding Moda Operandi in May 2010.

Inspired by a dress she fell in love with at a show, and which she found out would never be commercially produced, she decided to “give these pieces a life outside of the runway” and formed Moda Operandi, the first and only website to offer runway styles to consumers directly after the shows, disrupting the traditional cycle by making consumer the buyer.

Having proved the naysayers wrong, the company’s average transaction is $1400, enjoys 35% repeat purchases and  signed up over 300 luxury brands in first year.

Aslaug explained the benefits of her business model and also how the perception of online commerce has changed, from being a promotional channel, to a discount point of sale, to nowdays being a potential high-end retail channel in its own right.

In terms of finding investment, she advised making sure you have no gaps in your team, that your finances are in order, that you have a business plan, and understand the different types of investors and the pros and cons of each, from friends and family, professional angels, VCs and strategic investors.

Also, pick the right time to approach investors, i.e. during a time of strength. “It’s like dating – don’t look too eager, and be careful who you pick as you’ll likely be with your investor for many years to come”.