While the fashion world is abuzz with the impending launch of Victoria Beckham’s e-commerce fashion site, MBA graduates are also scaling up their involvement in this type of online venture. In some cases, they consider themselves to be among the first there.
“When we started there were not a lot of female founded [online] consumer retail companies,” says Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt Groupe, an online shopping site that currently has more than 7m members.
Together with her Harvard MBA classmate, Alexis Maybank, Ms Wilkis Wilson launched Gilt in November 2007, initially focusing on women’s clothing. In 2009, the pair expanded into Japan, believing they had first mover advantage. The country’s outlet businesses were booming and the Japanese consumer was already very tech-savvy so they built a free-standing website tailored to the Japanese consumer and dedicated time to meeting distributors and making sure infrastructures were correctly in place.
Today, the company is active in 100 countries and offers a range of goods, including men’s fashion and discounted travel.