Paragon Lake Out to Dazzle Jewelry Buyers with Virtual Customization

5/19/09Follow @bbuderi

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what they have just designed materialized right in front of their eyes,” says Besemer. She says (from first-hand knowledge) that the jewelry buying experience today is tedious. “We believe there’s huge opportunity to revolutionize the way people buy and sell jewelry, and in particular revolutionize the jewelry shopping experience itself.”

The company currently offers rings, earrings, and pendants—and some 1.7 million variations can be made from Paragon Lake’s inventory, Lauzon says. Orders are fulfilled by manufacturing partners, allowing Paragon Lake to oversee production of each item. Designers love the system, Lauzon says, because they can reach a much bigger customer base than would normally be possible. (The virtual display features designer photos and short bios alongside their designs, and customers can easily search for items by designer.) And of course, jewelry store owners like it because it gives them more things to sell in a way that makes their customers happier, hopefully boosting sales.

Paragon Lake’s plan is to install its virtual case in 50 stores going into the holiday season—the fourth quarter being the busiest time of year for jewelry sales. “We’re ahead of schedule in terms of that,” says Lauzon. “We have stores signed up and onboard in, I believe, 14 different states. We’re starting to see orders come in, which is very exciting for everybody.” (Bellman’s Jewelers in Manchester, NH, is the store closest to Boston with Paragon Lake’s virtual display.)

Which brings us back to Besemer, who officially started work yesterday. Lauzon told investors when he first raised capital that he wanted to step down as CEO early on and bring in someone who knew how to scale a company quickly. “I think my perspective is a bit different from a typical founder,” he says. He calls the CEO hunt “very selective.” But when they found Besemer, he says, “we sort of all looked at each other…and felt like we had finally found the perfect person.”

Virtual Display Case screen shot--click on image to enlarge

Virtual Display Case screen shot--click on image to enlarge

Her love of jewelry aside (Besemer says her husband asked, “please don’t spend your entire salary on jewelry”), it’s hard to argue with that. In addition to becoming EVP of worldwide field operations at Lotus—in charge of sales, consulting, support, and marketing execution—and running BrassRing, a recruitment services company that was acquired by Kenexa in November 2006, Besemer has held executive roles at three other companies.

Besemer has been retired “since the day BrassRing was sold,” although she sits on the boards of Brightcove, Double-Take Software, My Perfect Gig, and Bullhorn (and now Paragon Lake). One of her fellow directors at Bullhorn, Highland managing general partner Bob Davis, recruited her to Paragon Lake.

Besides loving the vision and the team, a big part of Paragon Lake’s appeal to Besemer was … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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