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Serial Entrepreneur Building a Luxury Business: Trevor Traina, CEO of IfOnly (Part 7)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 1st 2015

Sramana Mitra: What is your customer acquisition strategy?

Trevor Traina: We have a two-part strategy. The first is we partner with a lot of high-caliber organizations like American Express. We’ve partnered with them particularly for their premium cardholders. We work with Sotheby’s for their top collectors worldwide. We work with private clubs in different organizations. We offer a level of access, which we call membership, which is our most premium access through our partners. The second part of our strategy is that we leverage our participants. We call them luminaries. When we add a new luminary on the platform, they go out to their social media following and alert them as to what they’re doing on IfOnly.

Sramana Mitra: Interesting. In terms of building this company, what has been your financing strategy? I imagine you bootstrapped it to get the proof of concept. After that, what happened?

Trevor Traina: It was very different from my first company.

Sramana Mitra: I can imagine. Doing things with track record and doing things without track record are very different affairs.

Trevor Traina: We took angel investment from a lot of the most interesting people in Silicon Valley — Yuri Milner, Marc Benioff, Marissa Mayer. That converted into what became a $12 million Series A, which was led by NEA (New Enterprise Associates), Founders Fund, and American Express. Now, we’re a 50-person company based in San Francisco and growing really quickly.

Sramana Mitra: You started this in 2011?

Trevor Traina: Correct. Actually, I started it in 2012.

Sramana Mitra: The $12 million funding happened in 2012?

Trevor Traina: 2013.

Sramana Mitra: That’s the only round of major funding other than the angel round?

Trevor Traina: Correct.

Sramana Mitra: Do you want to provide of any range in terms of how fast you’re growing or any metrics that you want to share that confirms that your business is growing?

Trevor Traina: Last year was our first full year of operation. This year, our revenue saw more than 500% growth over last year. We had more customers in the last month than we had in the first nine months of the year combined. We started 2013 with about 10 luminaries on the platform. Today, we have over 400 luminaries. We have more than 300,000 high net worth individuals in our database today.

Sramana Mitra: It seems like you’ve found your stride. It’s not like you’re trying to validate it. It’s a validated business at this point.

Trevor Traina: Correct. Now it’s about growth.

Sramana Mitra: What else do you want to share as part of the story?

Trevor Traina: I think what has been fun for me in this new business is I grew up in the world of lifestyle. It’s a world I know really well. Running a company that connects consumers to the good life comes naturally for me. I think because of that, I’m better at it. I’ve worked in different verticals over my career. I’ve found that the ones where I had to learn from scratch and didn’t feel like me were never as enjoyable and never as fun. As an entrepreneur, having intuitions because of my own likes and preferences has made me a better entrepreneur.

Sramana Mitra: Luxury is a very fun segment to work in. I did the first online fashion company back in 1999. It’s a really fun segment.

Trevor Traina: Yes, I read that. That’s very impressive and I agree with you.

Sramana Mitra: Terrific. Great Story! Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Serial Entrepreneur Building a Luxury Business: Trevor Traina, CEO of IfOnly
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