Adi Shemesh

CEO, Trench

Product: Trench App
A marketplace for women’s clothing exchange powered by a unique virtual currency
Vertical: Fashion
Tags: Sharing Economy, Marketplace, Women, Clothing, Virtual Currency
Stage: Web pilot to iOS app
Funding: Seed round from angel investor
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Born in a small village in the Galilee region of Israel. Went to high school in San Diego. Studied Economics and Business Administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2011, spent a year working as a research assistant at the Bank of Israel before moving to a management consultancy firm. Was a freelance consultant for startups and big organizations prior to coming up with the idea for Trench in the summer of 2011.
Each woman has so much stuff in her closet she isn’t wearing — on average about 70% — yet women always want to buy new things. In fact, the average wear time for a garment in the U.S. is one month. So we thought, there has to be economical way for women to refresh their closets all the time. The second hand market doesn’t seem to have a good solution. Women aren’t in a rush to sell items because their value is a lot lower, and buying second hand means spending more. So we asked how can we change people’s shopping experience, habits and culture to be really efficient?
It’s about the people. I believe we should give people the power to control and to do, to behave how they want to. I really want us all to understand that the sharing community is not a trend, but the direction the world is moving in. It’s about collaboration. We’re becoming more and more decentralized. Apps used to be about the virtual world but they are becoming tools to help people get along in their physical world more efficiently and to manage their environment in a much better way.
All the limitations are in your head — you can do anything, you can be as big as you want. The biggest limitation is you. As a woman entrepreneur, the hardest part wasn’t necessarily the business part, it was learning a lot of things about my capabilities and dreaming bigger and understanding I could do really big things. Everyone has an opinion but in the end I’m the only one who has all the necessary information to make decisions about my business. So try to break all the barriers you have in your head. Don’t make yourself, your business, the potential of it, small because it’s not.
For every entrepreneur, it’s very important to find the people you can learn from. There are so many smart people in so many fields and if you talk to everyone, it can be very confusing. So it’s important to find mentors for every specific thing you need — business development, funding, growing your community. Find the people who are experts in the field you want to learn about and make sure that’s what you get from them. It’s a lot about chemistry.

MY STORY

I think I was always into developing, growing, leading things, bringing new stuff to the world. Since I was a kid I knew that was what I loved. But as for actually starting my own thing… at the beginning, I tested it to see if it would work and it grew and grew and suddenly I realised this is what I am. It wasn’t a big decision, it was very natural.

Reconnecting community

The most beautiful thing the sharing community has brought to the world is not just enabling people to be more economical and efficient — it brings people closer, makes them trust each other again. In crowded cities, especially in the U.S., people are friendly and actually curious about others. But it’s not as easy to meet new people as in Israel. In the U.S. one of the reasons why the sharing community is so successful is because it’s introducing people to each other. Take an Uber, start a conversation and suddenly you have something in common with someone new.

Clothing “swaps”

Women have been swapping since clothing was invented, giving to friends, taking from friends, but there’s been no smart way to do it apart from one-on-one. Trench started with the idea of enabling a women to use all of her closet, to not be afraid to buy stuff because she’s always going to be able to do something with it afterwards. The concept is refreshing and upgrading without spending another dime. Women can be the solution for each other.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Trench is a marketplace for women’s clothing swaps, but we figured out how to bring the advantages of money without any of the disadvantages. We’ve created a virtual fashion currency called Diamonds. It’s the best way for women to put a value on their stuff — from H&M clothes to Prada — and every girl decides for herself how many Diamonds a garment is worth. Because of the getting and giving of Diamonds, a “swap” can be in one direction, it doesn’t have to go both ways. Trench is geolocation-based. You can see stuff from closets right around you, you can shop in any other closet, and then can decide to meet the seller somewhere and hand over the garment. Return rates are very low because if you don’t like an item, you can just resell it.

Good with numbers

I never would have dreamed when I was studying Economics or working at the Bank of Israel that I would apply it in this way. There has to be a central bank to manage any currency — even a virtual one — and that’s where I ultimately see the monetization element of the business. We want to come to the U.S. because it has the biggest need for the solution we provide. The second hand market in the U.S. is worth $15-18 billion but the unused clothing market is around $50 billion. This is what we’re coming to be part of.

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