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Gilt Groupe: Retail Fashion Outlet for Everyone


The fashion industry is constantly evolving and so is the need for modern, customer-friendly retail services focusing on the right values.

A successful fashion outlet in the 21 century requires the perfect juxtaposition of retail and technology. Contemporary entrepreneurs in this ever-growing, competitive industry are here to generate innovation, change, and satisfy new demands.

These are the main pillars of the entrepreneurial team that started the success story under the name of Gilt Groupe. Founded by Kevin P. Ryan and Dwight Merriman in 2007, this platform provides its customers with a wide-range merch including fashion and home decor for women, men, and children across the United States.

What makes Gilt Groupe stand out in the fashion industry for so many years is the prevalent spirit of passion, teamwork, diversity, and belonging. The company strives to elevate and ensure an inclusive and accessible approach to fashion, both for its customers and employees.

Stick around to uncover the success story of Kevin and Dwight.

Early Years of the Entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurs that make up the team behind Gilt Groupe have all showcased their talent and ambition since their early years and in their academic education.

Kevin P. Ryan acquired a B.A. degree in Economics from Yale University in 1985 and mastered Business Administration at INSEAD in 1990, while Dwight Merriman got a Bachelor of Science in Systems Analysis from Miami University.

The initial team also includes two outstanding women with a knack for business: Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank.

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson grew up in a bilingual (Spanish and English) home in New York City and she also speaks French, Portuguese, and Italian. Her piano training in the Manhattan School of Music had a great early influence on her entrepreneurial spirit. Alexandra started her education in The Brearley School and Phillips Exeter Academy, after which she graduated magna cum laude at Harvard College and completed her education portfolio in Harvard Business School.

Harvard Business School and Harvard University were also the main destinations in Alexis Maybank’s academic journey.

Garnering Experience

As the main initiators of the project, Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman carry a significant amount of experience that shaped their entrepreneurial spirit.

Starting his career at United Media, Kevin worked as senior VP of finance and business. His role was crucial in the rise of United Media’s profits through restructuring efforts.

From 1996 to 2005, Kevin served as president and CEO of DoubleClick in its earliest days when the company was starting its growth from a small startup to a publicly-traded brand, employing over 1,500 workers. Meanwhile, Kevin was also appointed as an angel investor in and joined the early investor board of HotJobs, the Ad Council, and the Direct Marketing Association.

After ending his career in DoubleClick, Kevin teamed up with the former co-founder and CTO of DoubleClick, Dwight Merriman, for the launch of AlleyCorp. This project covers three affiliated internet companies that had Kevin as chairman and CEO. As such, AlleyCorp has enlarged its influence to establish and invest in New York businesses.

Dwight Merriman is one of the initial creators of the open-source document database MongoDB. In addition to that, he was the co-founder, chairman, and original architect of Panther Express, a content distribution network (CDN) that later merged with CDNetworks.

Since 1995, Dwight co-founded DoubleClick and then remained in the position of Chief Technology Officer for a decade. He was responsible for the ad serving infrastructure at DoubleClick, DART, which produces tens of billions of ads every day.

The Rise of a Fashion Empire

In 2007, Kevin Ryan and Dwight Merriman joined their forces for what was to become their greatest project yet. After starting several brands throughout the previous decade, such as MongoDB, Shopwiki, and contributing as investors in Business Insider, the duo created Gilt Groupe as their brainchild. Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank are the crucial names that joined the duo, together with Michael Bryzek and Jason Binn.

Kevin’s main inspiration for the project was Vente-Privee, a prominent online retail fashion provider in France. In order to put his idea into practice, he included tech and fashion veterans in his founding team - such as Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Alexis Maybank, Mike Bryzek, and Phong Nguyen.

During the very launch, the Gilt team introduced flash sales, offering a limited amount of luxury designer products at high discounts for short periods of time - which made the brand an instant hit.

The first 50%-off sale for Christian Louboutin shoes created such dramatic customer appeal that the site almost crashed under the weight of thousands of hopeful customers who visited it at the same time. The flash-sale model was just growing popular in e-commerce companies during this time, so Gilt Groupe soon became a leading name in the fashion industry.

Offering people discounts to recommend the brand to their friends was one of the main strategies for Gilt Groupe. The virality of this original sign-up program ensured tremendous results for Gilt in terms of the brand’s first-year revenue projections.

Gilt Groupe is an all-encompassing retail service that provides women with clothing, footwear, accessories, jewelry, cosmetic products, and maternity wear as well as men with clothing, shoes, and accessories. In addition to that, it also offers a variety of products for babies and kids, such as feeding, hygiene, and bedding products, toys, books, and games.

But that’s not all - the company also adds furniture, lighting, home decor and accessories, kitchen and dining products, and pet accessories to its wide assortment.

Allocating Finances

The ambitious and stable retail brand has acquired a total of $286M of capital in 7 funding rounds led by 11 investors, among which General Atlantic and Saints Capital are the most prominent ones.

The latest funding round occurred in the first quarter of 2015 in the Series F round. Gilt Groupe gained $50M in a Late State Venture funding. The main investor was General Atlantic, an international growth equity firm offering capital and strategic support to growth companies.

Gilt Groupe’s most valuable funding round occurred in 2011 and it got the brand $138M in funding. This investment round was led by Softbank and enhanced with the participation of New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs, Pinnacle Ventures, Eastward Capital, as well as General Atlantic as a stable investor for Gilt.

The Future of Fashion Is Now

A decade and a half after its founding, Gilt Groupe is a leading online retail brand that provides fashion products, home decor, and unique activities around the United States. Headquartered in New York, the company employs around 1000 workers.

As of February 2016, Gilt Groupe functions as a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Company. In addition to that, the brand belongs to RGG (Rue Gilt Groupe) - an acclaimed off-price e-commerce brand - together with Rue La La and Shop Premium Outlets.

Kevin and Dwight’s brainchild has world-class merchandising, top-notch marketing, outstanding personnel, and modern technology as the main factors for the imminent success. Offering more than 30 million users access to high-end designer products at reasonable prices, the flash-sale model has changed the retail industry forever.

Also, to remain relevant in the ruthless world of fashion, Gilt Groupe had to withstand the fierce competition coming from rivals like Poshmark, Videdressing, and Tredyol, among others.

The company prides itself on the enthusiastic teamwork in their offices. Gilt Groupe’s employees are as passionate about fashion as their users and are always thrilled to delight customers with innovation and style.

The consumer rating of 3.35 stars from more than 1,200 customers is proof of the popularity of Gilt among users. Satisfied reviewers often praise the Gilt team for its efficient response, good deals, and store credit. Overall, the company ranks in 4th place among online designer clothes providers.

Next time you’re in a mood for a fresh shopping experience, you might want to check out Kevin and Dwight’s pride and joy - the Gilt Groupe’s retail fashion outlet for everyone!