Online shopping is a staple for Carlanda McKinney, she noted, but the inaccuracy and variety of size guides leave both shoppers and retailers with major pain points.
“On the shopper side, it is frustrating to order multiple sizes and not have anything fit your body the right way. … On the seller side, retailers are often only able to sell returns for a fraction of the original price. Plus, they usually pay for shipping so they’re losing money there too. As someone who has a founder-brain, I saw this problem as a business opportunity,” said McKinney, the founder of Bodify.
Bodify was founded in 2019 as a web-based platform that starts by matching online shoppers with the brands that are best fit for their bodies. Then, the technology layers that information with what size one should purchase with that brand, McKinney explained.
Click here to check out Bodify.
The idea came to McKinney while she was on a break from entrepreneurship, she said. Before Bodify, McKinney founded Aphrodite Bra Company, which later rebranded to Raaxo — an online platform for designing and producing custom-made bras.
“I just needed to regroup and figure out what I needed to do,” she shared. “Obviously, I took learnings from those two ventures and leveraged them, but [Bodify] is really a completely different concept and new venture.”
Unlike her other startup efforts, Bodify is purely software. The platform is free for shoppers, while retailers pay to partner and be featured. Bodify is similar to browser plug-ins like Honey or Rakuten; shoppers who download the plugin can see if the site they selected has clothes that would fit their body.
“So say you’re shopping for jeans on JCrew.com, [Bodify] can let you know that you’re probably not going to find anything here that fits. But, it will show you brands that are similar to JCrew that it knows will fit,” McKinney said.
Shoppers can also go directly to Bodify’s website to see if a certain brand and item would fit them if they do not want to download the plugin.
Shoppers can click here to sign up for Bodify’s waitlist.
Progression in the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated Bodify’s timeline, McKinney said. With shopper behavior causing online sales to skyrocket, the need for her platform was greater than ever.
“No one had solved this return issue yet — so even though revenues were increasing, so was this cost drain,” McKinney explained. “The pandemic shined a light on this huge industry problem that really no one outside of the industry was aware of, and that’s been helpful for me in terms of getting investments.”
With more investors connecting to Bodify’s solution, McKinney has been able to work with their feedback to improve her startup — something that was missing with her other ventures, she noted.
“The feedback that I’m receiving with Bodify is actionable,” she said. “For example with Raxxo, I’d hear, ‘Get some more traction.’ That can mean 10,000 things. … Versus now, let’s say I was talking with one firm and they say, ‘Your advisory committee is a little light on people in the eCommerce field.’ Then I can find someone who fills that gap, and it shows I’m capable and coachable.
“These conversations have been flowing a lot better [than in the past], and I find myself pitching less,” she continued. “With Raxxo, there was a lot of education that I had to do; but not so much with Bodify because everyone has shopped online and everyone has returned stuff.”
Click here to read about how Bodify was selected for Digital Sandbox KC in March.
Shoot for the moon
McKinney is currently gathering data on fabric materials and dye content, which play major roles in the fit of a clothing item, she explained.
“If you’ve ever tried on the same jeans in multiple washing, they fit differently,” she said. “An acid wash jean, that’s the same cut as a completely black jean, will have more give because the dye affects the fabrics differently. … What’s interesting is that this information is readily available; you just have to ask for it from the manufacturer.”
The time-consuming aspect is in creating algorithms that connect the data to people’s measurements, McKinney said — noting that every moment of hard work is worth it.
“I want Bodify to be a unicorn startup,” McKinney said. “I know it’s a really lofty goal, but I would love to really grow this company. Shoot for the moon and land on the stars — you’ve got to aim high!”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.