EXCLUSIVE: Men’s Style Startup Dash Hudson to Tap Marketing Power of YouTubers

/ Jul 15, 2014

Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson, a social/mobile startup that aims to make it easier for young men to find style recommendations and make purchases, knows where it should go to drive audiences to its platform — YouTube.

The company is launching a new program called “We Dress YouTube,” which will enlist establishing and rising male YouTube stars to promote the platform via referral codes in exchange for a new wardrobe and some additional incremental revenue.

Dash-Hudson-1First things first, what is Dash Hudson and how does it work? Using a proprietary search technology, the commerce platform pulls in available clothing items from different web sources. A group of style experts then write articles about those items, and publish them on a news feed available on Dash Hudson’s mobile app. Users can sift through these posts and determine which things they want to buy, which can be done directly via the app.

Since launching in March, Dash Hudson has been witnessing 20-30% week-over-week audience growth, says co-founder Thomas Rankin.

The startup also recently raised $400,000 in seed funding from a group of investors that includes former Groupon CTO Paul Gauthier.

Now, the startup is targeting its next stage of growth by tapping the influential relationship YouTube creators tend to have with their audience. Those Dash Hudson enlists in the “We Dress YouTube” program will receive $250 in free clothing and a custom referral code, which they can distribute to their viewers. Creators will then make 2.5% off every transaction the platform processes with their referral code.


WDYT#1

Since Dash Hudson is focused on a “young, urban, college-educated male audience,” the startup is interested in working with YouTubers that “speak honestly” to that audience, says Rankin. Mostly, this means young, male YouTube creators — though women who feature guys in their videos can also apply.

“We are looking across verticals,” adds Rankin. “We want to work with personalities in comedy, tech, gaming, style… We are open to speaking to our audience in all of the different ways that they engage in content.”

The only major requirement is that all participating creators have a minimum of 100,000 subscribers. The company has already signed up a few creators, though Rankin declines to disclose names. In total, the goal is to sign up 20 influential YouTubers for the initial phase of the program.

A brand, especially within the category of fashion and style, enlisting the YouTube community to reach and engage with audiences is not uncommon — in fact, it’s becoming increasingly less so.

With the service that Dash Hudson aims to provide, it also makes perfect sense, according to Rankin. “YouTube has to be the next distribution channel for fashion,” he says. “Look at what happened with television. Fashion brands and retailers have been dressing TV personalities for decades, either through direct endorsements or through helping those personalities look better. Both parties get value. That kind of thing can happen on YouTube.”

Rankin is well aware of the problems YouTubers — especially those with 100,000 to 1 million subscribers — WDYT#3currently face by relying on only ad revenue, which is generally split with YouTube. “This is a great opportunity for them to add some supplemental income.”

And to Dash Hudson’s credit, beyond understanding that there is an opportunity in working with YouTube talent, the startup is also aware of how to manage that relationship. “We want [creators] to be wearing our clothes, but we also want them to be themselves,” he says. “We don’t want to get involved with the creative. We are going to trust the personalities to be who they are, and speak about Dash Hudson in a way that makes sense for them.”

The company won’t run ads on those channels, either. “We just don’t feel like it’s the right way to go about it,” says Rankin.

That said, working with the YouTube community is a long-term project for the company. This initial phase will also be used to understand and outline what works best, says Rankin, but Dash Hudson expects to open up the program to more YouTubers in the future.

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