The RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright tells TechCrunch in a video interview that she’s preparing the luxury consignment e-tailer to go public someday. “That’s the goal,” she said when asked about IPO plans. “We really aren’t in the mood to sell the business, we’re in the mood to go public at some point in the future.”
It makes sense that a startup that’s raised $173 million in funding would be expected to provide liquidity for its investors eventually. Just last month, the company announced a round of $50 million led by private equity firm Great Hill Partners. Previous investors include Canaan Partners and Greycroft Partners.
The RealReal is a site that connects buyers and sellers of luxury items, including designer fashions, handbags, jewelry and now furniture. True to its name, it vets every item to make sure it’s “real” before displaying it online. (Watch the above video to learn how to spot a fake Louis Vuitton bag.)
While some competitors have struggled, like Threadflip, which shut down after purchasing too much supply, The RealReal doesn’t purchase the items beforehand and only takes a commission when the items sell. In fact, Wainwright says that the company has the reverse problem, with “a lot more demand than we have supply” because it has more shoppers than consignors.
Sellers have many places to showcase their items these days, from traditional consignment stores, to eBay, Poshmark, ThredUP and more. While each platform has its own nuances, The RealReal hopes its focus on luxury helps it stand out. These items also sell for a higher price point. Its accepted list of designers includes Chanel, Gucci and Prada.
Following in the footsteps of Warby Parker, Birchbox and now Amazon, The RealReal is also expanding from e-commerce into brick-and-mortar retail. In May, it announced plans to open a store in New York City this fall.
Wainwright says the team decided to have a physical location after experimenting with a “phenomenally successful pop-up…The branding exercise was great, the consumer experience was great and we could bring our experts forward.”
Before The RealReal, Wainwright ran Pets.com, a well-known startup that shut down in the dot-com boom. The recent $3.35 billion acquisition of Chewy.com have caused some to suggest that Pets.com may have simply been ahead of its time.