Gilt Groupe’s Alexandra Wilkis Wilson at XSITE This Thursday: We’ll Talk Company Culture, Challenges, Growth Strategy
It’s not often I get a chance to chat about men’s fashion in a public forum. Well, it ain’t gonna happen this time either. That’s because I know next to nothing about fashion (just ask my colleagues)—but I do know something about the technology industry, and the fascinating stories of the people behind today’s leading companies.
At XSITE 2011, our flagship conference at Babson College on Thursday, June 16, I’ll be sharing the stage with one such leader, who also happens to be one of the nation’s premier fashionistas (not a word to be used lightly.) She is Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder and chief merchandising officer of New York-based Gilt Groupe, the online fashion retailer. We will be having an “entrepreneur chat” in the morning session of the event.
Gilt Groupe, founded in 2007, has risen to prominence as a top e-retailer in the field of private “flash sales”—members-only discounts on luxury handbags, shoes, and other designer apparel. The company now has more than 700 employees and is said to be valued at around $1 billion. Last month, the company filed paperwork for a $138 million financing round. Its previous investors include Matrix Partners and General Atlantic.
Wilkis Wilson is a Harvard Business School alum who cut her teeth as a merchandising exec at Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. I’ll ask her about the genesis of Gilt, the entrepreneurial lessons she has learned, and how her team plans to stand out (and keep growing) in a crowded field of fashion sites and local deals companies that includes Vente-Privee, Ideeli, HauteLook (Nordstrom), Groupon, and Boston’s own Rue La La and BuyWithMe. (There is also some speculation, as usual for a fast-growing startup, that Gilt is getting ready to go public or get acquired.)
A few other topics we might delve into (we’ll also take some audience questions):
—Challenges that Gilt has faced, including how to get big brands to sell online (let alone at a discount)
—Gilt’s unique culture and how it will evolve as the company grows (think a mix of techie “playfulness” and “fashion sexiness,” she says)
—Broader business lessons from the experiences of eBay, Amazon, Groupon, and other e-commerce firms
So please bring your questions for Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Gilt Groupe—and we look forward to seeing you on the 16th at Babson.