28
May

Meet the Startups in Area 31: Style Stage

Escrito el 28 Mayo 2014 por entrepreneurship en emprender

StyleSage – Big Data meets Fashion

Author: Jade Huang

StyleSage, a New York and Madrid-based company, delivers real-time and predictive analytics through a SaaS platform to fashion retailers and brands. Our technology currently monitors 1000+ retailers, 2000+ brands, and 30M+ products globally. Combining data analyses with business insights from clients, we build beautiful, intuitive charts and reports that are easy to understand and use.

Our vision is to utilize big data to help fashion retailers and brands make some of their most challenging decisions and predict fashion trends.

Why do fashion retailers and brands need your help?

Four questions make or break every fashion business:  What designs would shoppers love?  How much to price merchandise?  How much to produce and stock in stores?  Where to allocate inventory?

Right now, there is no easy way for retailers and brands to gather and analyze the necessary data to complement the decision-making process, and that is where we come in.

Where did you get the idea?

Jade, Jonathan and Robert met last year while at INSEAD during their MBA. Jade had studied fashion design and was looking for Co-Founders to work on an idea at the intersection of fashion and technology.

Initially, we had the idea to build a social platform to allow customers to vote on upcoming fashion collections and use that to predict trends which we developed throughout multiple entrepreneurship courses at school. We had already invested in building an alpha-version of the social voting platform, but soon realized through interviews with fashion professionals that there was no real demand for it.  So we pivoted.

How does the business work?

Our vision of using big data to predict trends and to help fashion professionals is huge and we made the first step towards it already. We have built a web-based platform that visualizes our current data in a very interactive way and we aim to sell that tool to fashion brands and retailers.

In the next year, we will start building an intelligent, predictive model that will be able to give recommendations.

What is the business model?

Our business model is based on SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). We charge a monthly fee for the access to our web-tool, depending on the amount of data and number of user seats. In addition, we plan to release and sell some fashion reports and also discovered some alternative revenue sources.

What kinds of investors does the company have?

Initially, the company operated out of the founder’s fund.  At the moment, we are gearing up to officially raise a seed round.

What is the stage of project now?

We have developed a customer-ready beta product, which we are now testing with major retailers and brands through the New York Fashion Tech Lab. As one of eight startups for the Fashion Tech Lab, we are given unprecedented opportunityto work hand-in-hand with renowned fashion brands and well known entrepreneur mentors. We also hired our first intern as a full-time frontend developer — we are proud and thankful to announce that she came from the Talentum intern program at the IE Area 31 Incubator.

What role do the members play in the company?

We are a very international team, strategically located in New York and Madrid, so we can work easily with retailers and brands from both sides of the Atlantic.photo Ari and Rob

Jade is our CEO, based in New York. She is responsible for Business Development, Marketing, Sales, Fundraising and overall vision of the company. Robert is the CIO, located in Madrid and responsible for product development, technology infrastructure management and data analysis & visualization. Jonathan advises us on key technology and infrastructure decisions. Arianna in Madrid is developing the frontend. Additionally, we have 3 interns in New York supporting us on chart development, product management and data analysis, as well as 2 advisors who provide legal and strategic advice.

Also, we are looking for a senior developer in Madrid with database management and software development experience. If you are interested in the position, please contact us at http://www.stylesage.co/join.html

What have you learned from your experience as entrepreneurs?

It’s an amazing experience to create your own company! It’s so much more than just building a product that works – you are creating whole company, recruiting a team, building a work & fun culture, validating and selling the product, finding investors, navigating legal and administrative topics and so much more.   Don’t be afraid to fail – that’s the only way to learn.

You have to make a lot of decisions – small and big – every day and often you get the feedback right away. That is very rewarding.

What are you most excited about the project at the moment?

At the moment we are at very exciting times. The New York Fashion Tech Lab (nyftl.com) gives us the opportunity to meet senior managers of amazing fashion brands and it’s great to see their first reaction and feedback to the product. Also, we are actively fundraising at the moment and getting good investor interest, which is also very exciting.

On the product side, we have gathered enough data by now to see some historical business cycles and a few trends and can’t wait to analyze those more in depth.

What are the most difficult challenges of entrepreneurship?

For us, being such an international team, keeping everyone aligned and “in touch” is at times challenging but I think we master that well with our daily team video chats and feedback sessions.

In general there are good times and bad times and everything always happens slower than expected. It’s important to not lose your energy and vision in the low moments. Same is true for making your first dollar of revenue: it’s incredibly hard to sell a product in the market, especially in B2B. Also, finding and recruiting the right people at the beginning is probably the most challenging and important task of a startup. The idea can always be changed or adapted but to change the team is more difficult.

In your opinion, what are the most important personality traits to be a successful entrepreneur?

Have a vision and keep up your energy. Be able to convince people (partners/employees, customers, investors) of your idea. Be a team player. Have passion.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you had the chance?

Of course we made many wrong decisions. But I think that overall we are on a good track and you probably learn more from bad choices than from right ones, so I would not go back and change them.

What new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your original plan?

Our original plan was to build a social voting platform for upcoming fashion collections. We had invested months of work and some money to develop an alpha version of it, just to learn that there is actually no demand for it. It was a good learning that a) there is a huge difference between people liking your idea and the willingness to spend money for it and b) you need to listen very carefully what your potential customers say. We initially had interpreted most feedback in our favor (“rose lenses”) and missed the subtle critique points.

Fortunately, we could pivot the idea at a very early stage and without the interviews we would not have found the current opportunity that we are working on now.

What advice would you like to give to potential entrepreneurs?

Never, ever, run out of money! Find the right partners and people that believe in you and the idea. Validate your idea with potential customers as much as you can and listen to them carefully. Stay true to your vision, don’t give up and embrace learning from wrong decisions. Have fun!

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