Where Bras Meet Software: Zyrra Raises Money From Jess McLear, Jean Hammond, & Local Angels For Its Bra Industry “Revolution”

10/19/10Follow @xconomy

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a direct sales model, mainly through “fit specialists” that Zyrra trains to go out to sell to women through parties and group events. It’s a model used by many brands catering to women, like Tupperware, The Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay.

The idea is to take a task that is traditionally frustrating and time consuming—bra shopping—and turn it into a more of a girls-night-in, fun event, Ohly says. Zyrra also holds sales events with local stores and spas, and even has a fitting booth in the MassChallenge work space. (Don’t worry, it’s away from the building’s giant, floor-to-ceiling windows.)

The fit specialists gather women’s measurements at these events and plug them into a CAD program that designs the bras and sends them off to the manufacturers. “We could make a big impact in an industry that hasn’t seen a lot of real innovation in many years,” Ohly says. “The bra sizing system was invented in 1920. And it doesn’t work very well, so we’re throwing it out.”

Indeed, the traditional bra sizing system takes two measurements and assumes the remaining proportions based on those numbers, Ohly says. Zyrra specialists, on the other hand, take close to 10 different measurements for a single bra, better accommodating the different variations in bra fit that are ignored under the current model, he says. “We do plan on revolutionizing the bra industry,” he says, “which is in a different space than most innovation today.”

The company has about 1,000 customers in the Boston area, but is planning on using its new money to finance a bigger operation, Ohly says. He’s looking to expand to three new markets in the next year: Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC. Prior to this round, Zyrra had raised about $350,000 from friends and family, founders, bank debt, and the Babson College seed fund, Ohly says.

The company was looking to raise a funding round before entering MassChallenge, but the program definitely sped up the process, he says.

“The term ‘accelerator phase’ was appropriate,” he says. “We accelerated the round while we were here in MassChallenge.”

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