Taelor Was Chosen as One of Top 7 Start-Ups in the University of Chicago’s Competition for Entrepreneurs

News for Chinese | May 04, 2021

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After four months of divisional knockouts, the final round competition of The Alumni New Venture Challenge (ANVC) held by University of Chicago will be held on May 6th. After winning the U.S. West Coast semifinals, the newly appointed Northwestern University professor Anya Cheng will lead the AI clothing rental company Taelor to compete against start-ups from five other regions of the world in the final competition on May 6, which will be held from 8 a.m.-noon (CDT).

Taelor is a revolutionary new way for men to rent clothes. The service allows them to look and feel great every day while also reducing their carbon footprint. The service uses a combination of Artificial Intelligence and personal stylists to select clothes for men based on their sizes and personal preferences. Taelor customers can choose between a flat, monthly fee, where they receive two boxes per month, with four shirts per box. The second option is for customers to pay a one-time fee, where customers receive three boxes in total, with four shirts per box. Both options include complimentary personalized styling, dry cleaning, and shipping both ways — making the process of renting and returning clothing easy and effortless.

It’s a service that is a perfect solution for busy individuals who don’t want to spend time shopping or picking out their clothes. “I want to look good, but I don't really want to spend time shopping,” says Danny Ma, one of Taelor’s first customers. “I considered clothing subscription boxes for years, but I didn’t want to commit to buying something from each box. After using Taelor, I am much more confident!”

The popularity of sustainability practices, minimalism, and no-ownership trends have caused the clothing rental business model to explode in recent years, with some analysts projecting that the Circular Fashion industry, which includes rental and resale, could earn as much as $66 billion by 2024 in the U.S. alone.

“Our goal is to provide individuals with stylish, everyday menswear. We believe that every day is an opportunity to look good and feel confident,” said Cheng, a former digital product lead at Facebook, eBay and Target. “And when you rent clothes instead of buying them, you not only save the time and energy of having to search and shop for clothes, but you also help the environment, too, instead of purchasing clothes that will eventually end up in a landfill.”

Cheng has a strong background in both the digital and retail space. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Integrated Marketing Communications program and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Cheng spent several years leading digital innovation teams at Facebook, eBay, Target, McDonald’s and Sears before launching Taelor.

Cheng said she originally got the idea to start a clothing rental subscription service for men after becoming a huge fan of other clothing rental subscription services, such as Rent the Runway, herself.

“I used to live near a Rent the Runway store, and I would go to the store every day and pick out a new outfit to wear the next day. I became such a fan of renting clothes that I haven’t purchased any clothes for myself except for underwear for the past five years,” Cheng says. “But I realized that none of the clothing rental services really served menswear nor focuses on helping people to achieve career or personal goals in their everyday life, and I thought, men should be able to enjoy this service too so they can feel ready and confident for their day.” 

According to research, people only regularly wear about 20% of what they buy. The remaining 80% of people’s clothes is usually worn fewer than three times. And just 1% of clothing is recycled back into clothing; 73% goes into a landfill.

Plus, according to a whitepaper co-authored by the British Fashion Council, there is up to 10% reduction in a garment’s carbon, water, and waste footprint when you extend its lifetime by just three months.

In addition, Taelor’s team includes talents who have worked at Amazon, Starbucks, and Singapore Airlines Logistics, as well as engineers who helped Google and Facebook obtain eight artificial intelligence patents. There are also experts who helped with marketing towards men for Audi and Volkswagen in the past ten years and fashion designers of a female rental subscription company that raised three million US dollars. It is no wonder that the first comment of (ANVC) is "Taelor team is very strong." .

Taelor will be competing against start-ups from five other regions of the world in the final competition on May 6, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. CDT. People can watch the competition live at polsky.uchicago.edu/livestreams. The winner of the competition will receive $100,000 to fund their new business ventures. Previous winners have included Grubhub, Braintree, and more.