Grandex, an Austin-based online content and e-commerce startup focused on young college and post-college audiences, has just raised a $1.2 million funding round. The company generates revenue by bringing in millions of young readers to its sites and then cross-selling them apparel and clothing.
Starting in 2010 along the same lines as the sites FML (F**k My Life) and TFLN (Texts From Last Night), Grandex’s first site was built around users sharing moments that were “total frat moves,” hence the site name now “Total Frat Move.” The company has since expanded content to include a larger focus on frat, sorority, and post-collegiate life.
Much like similar sites Bro Bible and Guyism, Grandex has grown its audience via social media content distribution. Particularly, Twitter has been important to its growth.
And though Grandex’s sites drive a lot of traffic, reportedly 18 million unique visits as of March 2014, its business model is actually centered on its closely aligned e-commerce companies Rowdy Gentleman and Lady Clothing. Grandex cross-sells items like tee shirts, tank tops, swimwear, polos and accessories like beer sleeves, sunglass straps and wall art to the young audience it captures within its media sites.
"We figured if we could create content that resonates with 18- to 24-year-old young adults and got them coming to a website every day, then we could build business models around the audience," said CEO and co-founder Madison Wickham to Business Insider. "We were capturing our customers before we had anything to sell them."
Back in March, when Wickham spoke with Business Insider, he said the online retail site Rowdy Gentleman accounted for 80 percent of Grandex's total revenue. The company now has plans to launch another e-commerce site called Man Outfitters in early 2015.
Beyond clothing and apparel, Grandex also has used its close connection with its young audience to publish a book called “Total Frat Move” that made it all the way to number seven on the New York Times Best Seller list. The startup has even created a mobile game called Fratty Bird, an imitation of the hit Flappy Bird, except the bird wears a backward baseball cap, flies past frat houses in the background, while trying to avoid Greek columns. Clearly, Grandex’s close connection to its audience allows it to sell a variety of products. It will be interesting to see what it tries next.
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