You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2009.
Fashion may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve ever made the trip to London, England you will no doubt recognize that they mean seriously funky business. Enter Dom Fendius and his startup, Stitsh.com, which successfully blends his love of fashion with an innovative dash of e-commerce.
Allentrepreneur: Very happy to have you on Allentrepreneur Dom! When I first heard of Stitsh, I raised my hands in the air: Bravo! Like a lot of my peers, I take my fashion cues by looking at what other people wear. Stitsh takes it a step further by providing direct links from the items on display to their respective retailers. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you took Stitsh from concept to reality?
Dom: After university I worked in finance, but the intention was always to start my own business. I’d always enjoyed fashion and knew I wanted to work in a creative area. I was inspired by what other people were wearing and would build my own look from this inspiration. I enjoyed the style blogs that were coming online, but thought “wouldn’t it be great if I could buy those clothes immediately without searching for them on the high-street”. This is how the idea of Stitsh came about. So I started looking for a great web-developer/designer, started building relationships with retailers and started to take photos of stylish people. When it all came together, Stitsh.com was born!
Allentrepreneur: How did you initially manage Stitsh’s daily operations (web maintenance, cash flow, pictures, etc.)?
Dom: Initially it was a typical start-up scenario of doing almost everything on my own, and trying to get the best solution at the best price. This meant I was taking photos myself, getting friends to help out and learning a lot about the day-to-day running of a website. I was using my own money, so the incentive to keep costs down was always there!
Allentrepreneur: Stitsh takes its revenue from ads and also from a commission-based model. Among some of the retailers you link to are Topshop and French Connection. How hard is it to work out a partnership with online retailers?
Dom: Most retailers are aware that the internet is a great tool for their business, and in my opinion it’s where the future of retail lies. The benefits of online shopping are huge and retailers are, on the whole, very happy to work with us as we put their clothes into context and send customers directly to them.
Allentrepreneur: Will you eventually consider crowdsourcing Stitsh’s content (people love to expose themselves) or are you keen on keeping control of what goes in and out?
Dom: This is actually something we’re developing, but as you say, we want to offer our visitors the best possible photos and this is an issue we’re working on at the moment.
Allentrepreneur: How have people in London reacted to your service so far?
Dom: People have reacted very well. We’re getting some good feedback and the fashion bloggers have got behind the concept too, which is really pleasing. But it’s not just in London, blogs around the world are picking up on it, from Brazil to South Korea which is amazing.
Allentrepreneur: People take cues from people all the time. Do you think the concept for Stitsh could evolve in an industry other than fashion? Like gifts maybe?
Dom: Yes, it’s an interesting area and for sure, people do look at what others are doing, that’s human nature. I’m sure the business model could work in other areas.
Allentrepreneur: I’ve recently come across a number of similar web startups. Amongst them were Chictopia, Lookbook and Stylehive. Do any of the latter have a strong presence in London and how do you intend to position Stitsh to compete against these fashion-oriented businesses?
Dom: The sites you mention are all great and I believe are known amongst London fashionistas. I think Stitsh offers something different to these sites, and the competition ensures that we are always innovating and giving the best service that we can.
Allentrepreneur: Where do you see Stitsh five years from now?
Dom: Our priority at the moment is to make Stitsh a household name in the UK, and then further afield. We also plan to offer other services to people who are passionate about fashion in the future. In 5 years our goal is for Stitsh to be the number one website for people interested in fashion.
Allentrepreneur: London, Stockholm and New York are reportedly in the works. I know for a fact Montreal has a devoted fashion community. Will we get to see our best-dressed people on Stitsh anytime soon?
Dom: I’ve heard that the people in Montreal are very into their fashion, so we’ll certainly be looking into getting involved in the scene over there!
For Robert Hormann, an image is worth a thousand reviews. His new startup Check Your Image (CYI) aims to help individuals improve on one of the most crucial part of a first impression: their looks. Unlike popular but often times crude sites like Hot or Not, CYI concentrates on providing individuals with constructive criticism. Learn how this idea is spreading like wildfire and how maybe you could bring this original concept to a town near you.
Allentrepreneur: Great to have you at Allentrepreneur Robert! You and your partner Rolf Janka have created a fascinating service. Did you have any previous experience in entrepreneurship? What gave you the confidence to start CYI?
Robert: Rolf Janka has worked many years in the international marketing of a worldwide insurance. I have been working for 22 years as Entrepreneur in conventional market research. We did market research and a lot of telephone interviews in October 2007 and one important message was: From 420 people, 220 people (52%) said the idea was good to very good. The next step was to determine if it is possible to give people an assessment using their pictures and we found a lot of academic studies. They told us that it is really possible to assess people using pictures; the exact term of this method is “Visual Stereotyping”. So one year ago we decided to offer private market research for individuals, as everybody is its own brand.
Allentrepreneur: What has been the most difficult obstacle you’ve come across so far and how did you overcome it?
Robert: The challenge was to build the whole group of Imagetesters. Fortunately I have a lot of people which work in my own market research company and I also have a lot of experience in recruiting to find varied target groups. Currently we have more than 7000 Imagetesters in Germany.
Allentrepreneur: Did you fund CYI from your own pockets? If not, why did you choose to finance CYI the way you did?
Robert: Yes, we did. Now, as this idea is receiving so much international interest, we are thinking about co-operations with Entrepreneurs or Investors to introduce CYI in other Countries.
Allentrepreneur: On CYI, customers upload image of themselves and have impartial strangers evaluate their appearance and post suggestions. So far, what has been the level of reaction to this service? Can you share a quick story about how it has helped improve a customer’s appearance?
Robert: The reactions are really extraordinarily good. People learn things about themselves and the image they leave to others with their pictures in communities. Some change their appearances, some get help by professional image advisors. But its also designers, who want to have some appreciations upon their drafts, or enterprises, checking the image of their employees on their homepage, or just the shy boy that learns that he’s not bad looking but, sympathetic and nice to girls.
Allentrepreneur: CYI is currently German-based only. Seems to me that the concept could quickly catch on in other parts of the world. Why did you decide to keep it within your borders?
Robert: We won’t keep it in Germany only. Sincerely we were run over and really surprised about the amazing interest we received nearly worldwide, just a few days after going online.
In fact, just 3 weeks later a Japanese Entrepreneur visited us. He’s now licensee, and CYI will start in Japan in about 5 weeks! Additionally CYI will start in Spain in April and in Argentine in June. Currently we are negotiating with interested people from other countries too. CYI is already translated into English, but we did not yet find the right partner for the USA or Canada. So, if there’s somebody interested out there, just contact us.
Allentrepreneur: A person’s look, and the importance he attaches to it, has often been the source of either great pleasure or discomfort. Based on your experience, do looks play a very decisive factor in attaining goals?
Robert: Definitely. Think of all the communities where people present themselves to the rest of the world. With the pictures they upload they leave a certain impression. And: “The first impression doesn’t get a second chance” Test yourself: “Which pictures do you click on, when you’re surfing the site of a partnership agency or other communities?
Allentrepreneur: I have an idea that I think could adequately complement CYI: Check Your Personality. Customers upload short videos of themselves in which they speak about their goals, tastes, opinions, etc. and let impartial strangers review them. What do you think?
Robert: Who told you? That will be one of our next steps! We are constantly developing new products to increase the possibilities people have with CheckYourImage. Our next product will be the “DeepCheck” in which people can compare:
- assessment given by impartial strangers
- own Self-assessment
- the assessment they think strangers could have upon them
- assessment of their friends
Each of those 4 different opinions will be shown in the evaluation people get.
Allentrepreneur: Vielen Dank!
Robert: Your are welcome!