MEET PHILADELPHIA'S HOTTEST NEW STARTUP LOOKING TO CHANGE THE LANDSCAPE OF ONLINE SHOPPING
I recently spent a few hours hanging out at CoLabination’s co-working space near Drexel’s campus meeting the various team members to hear not only about their unique backgrounds, but also understand the passion shared by each employee working at CoLabination. All of the feedback I received was unique and honest, especially what I heard from the guy who dreamed up a particularly innovative concept only a couple of years ago.
“I knew there had to be a better way,” Latham said. So he has set out to overcome the extreme fragmentation that permeates the streetwear and underground apparel industry. “Its an exciting opportunity because at first what I thought I was doing was just solving a problem for brands similar to mine, but what we’ve realized is that it has grown into two really big problems, one for brands and one for shoppers,” Latham explains.
Scott split his time between refining this concept with the help of other entrepreneurs at Seed Philly, an early stage incubator for Philadelphia startups, and gathering an all-star team that could contribute to the mission right away. Within a year, what was a frustration became a solution in the form of CoLabination, an e-commerce startup in Philadelphia focused on providing a marketplace for brand discovery and collection.
CoLabination boils down to three main features benefiting both brands and consumers. For discovery, shoppers use the Rolodex to scroll through and check out the newest or most popular products featured on the site. If you click on a shirt or hoodie that catches your eye, you are taken to that brand’s Showroom. Once inside the Showroom, users can browse and purchase what the brand offers, but they also get a better understanding of the story and people behind that particular brand. “We let designers tell their stories,” insists CoLabination’s Brand Specialist Tyler Blaisdell. “Ideally, we want CoLabination to serve as a platform for connecting shoppers with brands from all around the country.” If a certain brand keeps displaying apparel you like, you can add them to your X Collection, a personally created profile allowing users to define themselves by the brands they collect.
Sitting down with Tyler and Paul Dziemianowicz, CoLabination’s product expert, I quickly appreciated the tricky yet crucial balance CoLabination is striving for when it comes to building a site that is easy and intuitive to use but also allows brands to express themselves. Currently, a limited number of e-commerce startups feature up-and-coming brands, but they often leave shoppers feeling overwhelmed and confused. After just a couple minutes on the site, I could already see why every member of CoLabination has taken such pride in offering a simple shopping experience for consumers who are passionate about discovering new and interesting brands.
Despite being such an early stage venture, CoLabination is already making noise in Philly’s growing startup ecosystem. An endless pool of young talent from schools like University of Pennsylvania and Drexel combined with a renewed push for small business investment from City Hall has helped to strengthen Philly’s startup scene. Every single CoLabination employee expressed his or her desire to help create a more collaborative community for the entrepreneurs within the city and make it a final destination instead of just a launching pad for young and growing startups.
Whether the topic is the Philly startup scene or the fragmented market for streetwear and underground apparel, talking with any of the CoLabination employees gives off a strong sense of excitement not only in what CoLabinaton stands for, but what it might become. More than anything, this team seems driven by the excitement and energy that comes from creating a service addressing a massive challenge facing both brands and the people that want to wear their products.