Inc. magazine just released their annual Inc. 500, a list of the country's 500 fastest-growing private businesses. Proving that members-only flash sales business model are still sound, online retailer Ideeli scored the number one spot on the list with a three-year sales growth of 40,882% and revenue of $77.7 million.
The New York-based company launched in 2007 and specializes in limited-time sales with a variety of designers and was one of the first to adopt this type of business model in the U.S., shortly after Gilt Groupe. And we knew Ideeli was a major player in the online flash sale site game. These ecommerce sites were one of the only retail platforms to benefit from the recession--brands had excess inventory they needed to move and shoppers wanted deals. Paul Hurley, the founder of Ideeli, told Inc., "The day after Lehman failed, which was a spectacular day for us, you could fire a gun in Saks and not hit anybody."
Still, we didn't know it was this big. Currently, ideeli boasts over 4.5 million members and 1,000 brand partners. Here are 10 more interesting facts about this year's fastest-growing company that you may not have known from Inc.'s profile:
• They produce roughly 3,500 editorial-like images each week.
• They are one of the largest employers of models in New York City.
• Gilt's revenue is higher than Ideeli's, but Ideeli's membership is growing faster.
• The founder of Ideeli is a 47-year-old man who studied political-science at Yale. He also invested in small oil companies when he was 12 and then started a lawn care business.
• Ideeli was originally going to be a marketing platform that serviced brands hoping to build awareness rather than consumers.
• Ideeli's Soho offices are tiny and overcrowded with "long rows of desks bathed in natural light."
• "Some brands create merchandise especially for ideeli, but Hurley won't say which ones or how much."
• Kate Frucher, an Ideeli senior vice president, was a teacher at West Point, helped launch the AmeriCorps national service program, and advised New York City's fire department on post-9/11 emergency preparedness. She now applies her skills to improving Ideeli's fulfillment, streamlining their photo-studio operations, including applying time-motion studies to improve production speed.
• They have recently increased travel offers and will be introducing other categories.
• Hurley thinks Ideeli will grow to be a multibillion-dollar business.