Egypt’s Coterique provides a platform for emerging designers

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This startup’s team consists of a developer, a photographer, a stylist, an online marketer and a model. Unusual, to say the least, but it appears to be working.

Coterique was formed in February 2013 by now-21-year-old Dana Khater, and is a platform allowing users to discover and buy from emerging fashion designers from around the world.

The site currently has 45 designers from 15 cities, including markets as diverse as Mexico, the Philippines and Lebanon, and has rolled out an ambassador programme consisting of 16 ambassadors in five different cities.

Khater is currently shuttling between Dubai and London raising a funding round for Coterique, with the startup looking for US$400,000 to grow its portfolio of designers, host several pop-up events around the world and build new technologies to help it scale more efficiently.

“We noticed a gap whereby a lot of the retailers stock US, British, French and Italian brands, while the Middle Eastern and Asian brands weren’t getting any attention,” she told Disrupt Africa.

“We also realised a lot of sites focus on many of the more well-known brands. While we do stock established brands, we like to balance them with emerging designers for a mix that properly represents the way in which a modern, fashion-forward woman dresses.”

Coterique, then, is providing competition to more established players in the high-end fashion market, such as Net a Porter, Moda Operandi and Matches Fashion, but from an unusual base in the form of Egyptian capital Cairo. But, after initial seed funding from Flat6Labs, the company has quickly established a global footprint.

“We’ve received orders from New York, Los Angeles, South Korea, Australia, and 15 other countries,” Khater said.

“Our next step is to open a GCC hub and launch our Arabic site. The step after that is a third office in Tokyo to onboard designers from the Asia region.”

Coterique, which charges a commission on each sale made through the platform, has been forced to go global given the relatively small uptake of e-commerce in Egypt.

“E-commerce – especially with regards to high-end fashion – is quite a small market, which is why we work heavily on international markets. At the moment over 60 per cent of our orders are international,” Khater said.

And the biggest challenge of building an Egyptian e-commerce company and scaling it globally? Building a team.

“Especially while I was a university student, it was super difficult getting people to go to the office and work while the CEO was in class at university,” Khater said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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