Stylerunner founders raise $1.6 million for new app that reimagines the coupon

Her-Black-Book-Julie-Stevanja-Sali-Sasi

Her Black Book co-founders Julie Stevanja and Sali Sasi. Source: supplied.

The founders of Aussie activewear retailer Stylerunner have raised $1.6 million in seed funding to fuel their latest venture — curated shopping, discovery and discounts app Her Black Book.

Twin sisters Sali Sasi and Julie Stevanja launched Her Black Book in November last year, some 10 years after they launched one-stop online activewear shop Stylerunner.

Stylerunner fell into receivership in 2019, and was acquired by Accent Group weeks later.

This capital raise was led by Andrew Hagger, chief executive of Andrew Forrest’s Tattarang and Minderoo Foundation, and also included Afterpay’s Touch Ventures, as well as several other angel investors.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Sasi says she had been sitting on the idea for Her Black Book since about 2018, when she saw a gap in the market for a tool built for women that could genuinely help them get more value and enjoyment from their shopping experience.

As an online shopper herself, Sasi knew she had discount codes buried in her inbox but she “couldn’t find them when I needed them”. It was equally easy to lose track of when and where sale events were happening, she notes.

Her Black Book is designed to counter these issues, offering users alerts for when their favourite brands go on sale and consolidating coupons, all while being aesthetically pleasing and a pleasure to use, Sasi explains.

The founders also want to “eradicate this sense that coupons are dirty”, she adds.

For women in particular, smart spending should be celebrated.

“There’s no reason why you can’t own a brand new pair of heels, but also have some money left over to either top up the super account or to invest in some crypto or on the stock market.”

The changing face of retail

While Sasi was coming up with the spark of an idea for Her Black Book, her twin sister Julie Stevanja was working at Stylerunner and facing an entirely different set off problems.

Stevanja was looking for marketing channels and affiliate retailers, but struggling to find the right partners.

“When I approached her with this idea, for her it was like a lightbulb moment,” Sasi says.

Needless to say, Stevanja soon joined her as a co-founder on their second venture together.

Her Black Book has launched at a pivotal time for retail. While the COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in online shopping, people are now starting to return to bricks-and-mortar stores.

We’re seeing tech launching that blurs the lines between physical and digital retail.

Sasi says there has also been a change in attitude when it comes to discounts and coupons. People want to be savvy with their money, and that means promotions are essential for retailers to add value for their customers.

“The psychology around coupon shopping has changed,” she says.

Her Black Book’s “audacious” dreams

With $1.6 million in the bank, Sasi and Stevanja are initially focusing on hiring — getting the best team possible on board to build out and start scaling the business.

The ultimate goal is to first get a strong foothold in the Australian market, and then take Her Black Book international, Sasi says.

“We’ve got very big, audacious goals,” she laughs.

“But we’ve also been there before and we know it’s achievable.”

Already Sasi is seeing brands, retailers and consumers getting excited about the product and the community around it.

“It literally gives me goosebumps, because I know they’re on this path with us,” she says.

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