BE Modern Man: Meet "The Marketplace Innovator" Alain Miguel - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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BE Modern Man - Alain Miguel

Name: Alain Miguel

Profession: Co-founder/Chief Operating Officer, Modalyst

Age: 30

One word that describes you: Results-oriented

Alain Miguel, the one tie corporate strategist is changing the face of retail by providing a connection between retailers and brands. Modalyst, a distribution marketplace, enables independent retailers to access cool, hard-to-reach, up-and-coming brands from all over the world, and enables retailers to automate how they source unique products and fulfill customer orders, all while seamlessly adding new products into their e-commerce storefronts without zero upfront inventory costs. In minutes, an empty storefront can be filled with thousands of curated products from dozens of brands.

Modalyst—which Alain launched in January 2013 after meeting his  business partner, Jill Sherman, at MIT—has enabled more than 5,000 independent stores and 700 brands worldwide to connect in ways previously exclusive to large department stores and known brands.

The idea and much of the inspiration behind Modalyst was o democratize distribution and commerce for new and growing retail businesses around the world. “Our thesis is that all independent brands – designers, makers, artisans, inventors, curators – should be able to monetize their influence as creators and tastemakers by opening up an online store, sourcing unique inventory, and selling cool products to the fast growing numbers of consumers shopping online,” Miguel tells BE Modern Man.

About 10 years ago, Miguel then a sophomore at Yale University sought to monetize his influence as a curator of fashion by launching a menswear brand. But the brand failed after just two years. “It failed because getting distribution into a global network of retailers is incredibly expensive and time-intensive,” says Miguel.

After a four-year stint on Wall Street, Miguel decided to rekindle his interest in entrepreneurship as a first year candidate at MIT Sloan School of Management. “During my first year, I stumbled upon an awesome co-founder and a disruptive idea, and decided to drop out of MIT,” Says Miguel. “But I do wear my MIT dropout badge with pride,” jokes Miguel. For months, he sustained himself and funded the early stages of the business with savings from options-trading. After months of product development, customer surveys, and many nights couch surfing in Boston, Modalyst was launched. “In January 2013, it was a minimum viable product with less than 100 customers, and today, it has exploded into a platform with nearly 6000 B2B customers,” Miguel tells BE Modern Man.

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