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3 types of customers come to Gilt, says founder Michael Bryzek

By Dennis Clemente

How do you get hundreds of people to listen to you when you’ve just heard 22nd startups pitch for 60-seconds each? You just have to be Michael Bryzek, founder of Gilt Groupe, perhaps the most successful CTO in the members-only shopping website which features insider access and discounts to top-notch brands.

But nobody would have thought of that the way Bryzek came to Pitch Night last August 7. Pitch Night, as hosted by Meredith Monroe, provides the platform for really early stage startups to practice and improve their startup pitch.

Bryzek went onstage as if he were the 23rd startup pitching his idea for the first time with his nondescript black Tee (granted it had an emblazoned Gilt logo), faded jeans and well-worn shoes. You could say it’s just his style to be low key and dressed down where his site is known for carrying the most fashionable luxury brands.

For those who don’t know Bryzek, he has his roots in non-profit. Prior to 2007 when he launched Gilt, Bryzek founded Volunteer Solutions and also served as the CTO after the company was acquired by United Way of America in 2001.

As we cornered him later, Bryzek explained to us the purpose of three devices, especially for Gilt. “These are three types of customers,” he insisted. “There is the impulsive mobile shopper, the casual shopper who watches TV with tablet computer in hand, and the laptop user who likes to take his or her sweet time before buying.”

If that’s the case, are we a nation of impulsive buyers? “Forty percent of our revenue is in mobile,” he said.

Not wanting to steal the limelight from the 20 or so presenters, Bryzek let the Pitch Night go with its usual 60-minute pitches from each startup. LineApple.com and Swap.rs won the audience over with their pitches.

LineApple allows you to electronically get into lines and check into appointments. The app virtually holds your place in line so you can shop, play, run errands, or experience local savings nearby while you wait.

Swap enables the purchase of any item in a store or web site using any vendors’ gift card or points. We increase foot traffic, shopping cart conversions and increase wallet share for our merchants.

So for those gift cards you don’t like, founder Rafi Cohen said now you can swap them for something you really want.

Other interesting presenters included dressfortheday.com’s Shradha and Anisha. “Women in the US spend $133,000 of clothing in their lifetime yet 60 percent complain what to wear,” they chorused. Why is that exactly? Well, the presenter did not so much as answer that as say their site is a “fashion dilemma solver.” They reportedly now have 7,000 visitors.

There are not too many, if any, presenters from Thailand. So it was interesting to hear someone talk about a social network for writers, thorfun.com, only it’s mostly in Thai. It claims to have 12,000 writers.

Founder from Norway, Mikael Hveem, presented his startup, Oncommune.com, a digital bulletin board used to create the real-life changes and interactions you want to see in your neighborhood, city or university.

Raad Ahmed, a lawyer, knows how much his profession has been disrupted, so he goes by the tenet, if you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em in his site called lawtrades.com. “We are making use of technology to make the law affordable, accessible and transparent,” he said.

LawTrades quickly connects people to talented lawyers through its online platform. People can find a nearby lawyer, see their live availability, and book an appointment on the site right away.

As an added bonus, he said anyone will be able to create, sign and send legally binding agreements in seconds. Whether you’re at a party talking about your latest idea, in front of a fellow craigslister, or lending your expensive camera to a friend’s friend, have peace of mind with LawTrades’ on-demand contracts.

LawTrades’ Lawyer Connecting Service will initially be available in New York.

For all these presenters, Bryzek had some essential tips. “Have an intense focus on execution. Build foundations of trust. Make great decisions.”

If Bryzek is not exactly the epitome of style, what makes Gilt so stylish. “We hire people of great taste, who love great fashion.” Enough said.