The Future of E-Commerce Is Social: How Lemonade Fashion’s Co-Founders Pivoted Their Way to Success

The Future of E-Commerce Is Social: How Lemonade Fashion’s Co-Founders Pivoted Their Way to Success 

Arthur Bizdikian, co-founder and CEO of social commerce platform Lemonade Fashion, discusses the importance of pivots, co-founders, and a great tech stack.

What is Lemonade Fashion and what problem are you trying to solve?

Lemonade is at the intersection of retail, technology, and entertainment.

Social media was not built for e-commerce. Users can’t buy and check out on the platforms themselves, driving traffic to third-party websites – and that’s where brands lose 90% of the audience. What’s more, they fear being scammed because they don’t know who’s uploading the product. 

With Lemonade, we close this gap. We are not an e-commerce platform, a social media platform, or a marketplace. We are a next-generation community space in which every user can become their own marketplace.

Only verified sellers can upload products for sale, but every user can create content and tag the brands’ inventory, monetising their content every time a product is sold through it, without needing to hold inventory or to have a partnership with the brand. 

Meanwhile, users can buy the product and check out directly from the platform while watching the content. 

How did the concept evolve from idea to what it is today?

It’s a story of multiple micro-pivots. I had been working in the startup scene in Lebanon and Dubai for five to six years when I had the idea to integrate technology with fashion to create a new decentralised platform for tailors and designers. 

The first version of Lemonade [in 2018] was a marketplace for emerging designers to create and sell custom-made and more sustainable fashion. It grew to about 100 brands and we started getting a lot of attention globally. We joined Draper University and received pre-seed investment from Draper University Ventures, which excited other investors in San Francisco; we ended up raising about half a million dollars. 

We started working with major influencers and content creators, and some of those campaigns went viral; overnight, we had 20 million views on our socials, half a million users on the platform, and 25,000 app downloads. 

Then, in 2022, we decided to integrate [e-commerce and social media], doing video content directly on our platform. One of our investors called us saying, ‘Guys, this is this is social commerce; this is the next frontier. Let’s focus on that.’ So, we stopped everything that we were doing and went back to development. In end-2023, we launched an MVP and immediately raised another million dollars from very strategic people – the ex-managing director at Facebook joined us, employee #5 at Google invested, the current senior director of engineering at Facebook helped our tech team with the integration in the platform.

Now, just a few months later, we have more than 90,000 users on the new app; MBC and Shahed are our partners for the whole region; all of the influencers we used to work with came back with exclusive partnerships; we have about 700 brands, and we’re onboarding some big ones. We even got contacted by Bytedance, the company that owns TikTok, to collaborate – we are licensing some of their technology for video editing as a first step.

How do you get major brands, that usually want to control their image, to agree to this novel approach?

You cannot really limit user-generated content; influencers will talk about you anyway and, as a brand, you also want as much content to be created as possible. 

Most importantly, every single user you have on Lemonade becomes your point of sale, which is what brands actually want – that’s what they were already trying to do on social media, using promo codes, links in bio, without control or dashboard. 

How did you build the technology?

We developed everything in-house, with social and commerce integrated seamlessly from the ground up. 

The reason why it’s very difficult for software like TikTok and Instagram to do this is that they have legacy social media architecture, with shops added later as a feature. Lemonade was developed with business accounts, organisational structure, inventory management systems, monetisation systems already built in. 

Where do you generate revenue?

It’s a revenue-sharing model. We take a 17% commission on every transaction, which is less than half what traditional marketplaces take, and we pay 5% of this commission to content creators as well as a percentage to curators – people who have their own portfolio of brands and content creators on our platform. 

The more money content creators and brands make, the more money we make; overall, around 50% of Lemonade’s revenue goes back to the community.

Why did you choose to onboard co-founders?

Because I have a startup business development background, I understand the power of co-founders. 

So, when I got the idea for Lemonade, one of my friends who now leads the AI department for Facebook advised me to onboard someone who comes from a technical background but understands fashion. Throughout the interviewing process, I met Mohamad Baydoun whom I liked so much that I asked him to join immediately.

Then, I met Dana Malaeb at her fashion show. I was actually trying to bring her in as a brand but when I sat with her, I felt like she was different. So, I asked her, ‘Would you rather own your own brand, or would you rather own a piece of thousands of brands around the world?’ She joined to help lead the creative side. 

Lastly, I met Nadim Chammas at an Endeavor event. I didn’t know he was one of the biggest executives of the region in the commercialisation of fashion, but we talked for three hours and he said he wanted to join the company to help us build the business category for retail. 

What’s next for Lemonade?

We just opened our new funding round for $2.5 million and we already got about $800,000 committed in the first week. 

The plan is to start investing in marketing, partnerships, and acquisitions. We’re also going to launch in-app ads next year, which will work more as a type of sponsorship with no interruption of the content itself. 

In terms of markets, we’re expanding to Europe and we need to start on the US market as well, but for now, our main focus remains on the GCC. 

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