When secondhand jeans made by The Gap and Roberto Cavalli wind up sharing a thrift store rack, it’s a good bet that the Cavalli’s — which can retail for north of $1,000 — may not fetch their optimal price. That’s the simple premise behind Fashion Project, a new Boston-based site that collects and sells donated high-end apparel and accessories. The sales help support charities like Dress for Success and the March of Dimes, and the donations are tax deductible.
“Not every charity runs its own thrift stores, and the ones that do can get more value for an item by selling it through us,” said Christine Rizk, Fashion Project’s cofounder and chief operating officer. “We tell people that we want stuff that would resell for $40 or more.”
Nonprofits can sign up to have their supporters send in merchandise. And individuals can request a postage-paid donation bag, fill it with items, and designate a charity that will benefit from their sale. Donors can see a tally of how much they’ve raised on Fashion Project. “Your closet can make a huge impact,” said Fashion Project chief executive Anna Palmer.
The site has collected about $17,000 in inventory, though today it only features women’s apparel and accessories. Palmer said it will eventually add men’s merchandise. Fashion Project takes 40 percent of the sale price, and passes along 60 percent to the charity.
Rizk and Palmer met while earning their law degrees at Harvard; both graduated in 2011. The company has five employees and offices in the Leather District. Fashion Project has raised $200,000 from individuals, and the founders hope to raise another $200,000 to $250,000 later this year.
Clean-energy workshop expands start-up space
Greentown Labs cofounder Jason Hanna tells me that the energy-oriented workshop space for start-ups is growing this summer, adding about 3,200 square feet on a second floor of its building. Another 10 companies will join the 13 already housed at Greentown, which may now be the biggest collection of clean-tech companies under one roof in the region. Greentown moved into a former textile warehouse in Fort Point Channel in May of last year, after getting started in East Cambridge. With the expansion, it will grow to 17,500 square feet.
Among the new tenants are Divya Energy, which is developing a website to help consumers evaluate various home solar systems; Vecarius, which aims to capture waste heat from automobile engines and generators; and Pika Energy, which advocates installing both solar panels and wind turbines on homes.
Renting a single desk on Greentown’s grungier first floor starts at $275 a month; the nicer upstairs space is $450 a month. But seven of the 10 new tenants, Hanna explains, will enjoy four months of free space, courtesy of the U-Launch grant program for clean-tech entrepreneurs that is partially funded by the US Department of Energy.
Networking start-up collects $20 million
In today’s cloud-oriented technology world, everyone expects that applications, servers, and storage have become on-demand resources. You should be able to use them like a Slurpee machine, turning them on or off at will, and choosing an extra-large or a small.
And yet, said Plexxi cofounder Mat Matthews, the communication networks that move all that data around are “still really rigid. Applications have become fluid, but networks haven’t really adapted to that.”
The company is developing new software and hardware that can help networks adapt to the demands of the applications their users are running.
Plexxi announced a new infusion of venture capital funding late last month: $20.1 million, bringing the total the start-up has raised to just more than $48 million. This third round of funding came from North Bridge Venture Partners and Matrix Partners in Waltham, as well as Lightspeed Venture Partners in Silicon Valley.
This month, Matthews said, the company plans to start its first wave of beta tests, “starting first with cloud providers and also some financial customers, like big banks and hedge funds.” Plexxi’s product should be commercially available later this year or in early 2013, he said.
The company has 30 employees split between offices in Cambridge and Nashua and expects to be at about 45 by the end of the year.