Today we interview Adam Shaw who is the co-founder of a startup called Dressed that was launched in August 2014.
Dressed is a mobile fashion app for managing your “virtual wardrobe”. It lets fashion lovers plan outfits and experiment with new looks by mixing and matching clothing, shoes, and accessories from their wardrobe.
Its interface is simple—just swipe garments from the rack onto the customised “virtual mannequin” to create new outfits and try out different styles. The app is great for planning what to wear, and is the perfect shopping companion for trying on new garments before you buy.
Dressed also has an assortment of wardrobe management features, allowing users to tag outfits and garments with a variety of data such as colour, season, function, date worn, and more. It’s really like having your entire wardrobe in the palm of you hand.
Lets find out a little more.
Who are your co-founders?
My co-founder is Kara Shaw (my wife), who co-designed the Dressed app with me.
Where is your startup located? Why?
Our startup is located in Perth. There is no particular reason, other than it’s the city where we live. 🙂 But Perth certainly has been a great city with a supportive community to do a startup in.
What problem are you trying to solve? How did you discover this problem?
Dressed solves the problem of planning the perfect outfit, without having to spend time actually trying on clothes or guessing at what garments might look good together. It’s interface is designed to make experimentation very quick and easy, meaning one can test out many different combinations of clothing.
Additionally, the app solves the problem of trying to keep track of all the clothing, shoes, accessories, etc that one owns. For example a common problem while shopping involves trying to remember if you already have a garment similar to the one you’re looking at, or if the accessory you’re considering purchasing will actually work with the outfit you’re planning. With Dressed, you’ll always have access to your entire inventory of clothing, shoes, accessories, etc with you on your mobile device.
Dressed was inspired by the needs of my wife Kara, who collaborated with me on the design of the app. Kara is very passionate about fashion and about her personal style, and she takes great satisfaction in planning out her outfits and experimenting with new style ideas. Many years ago when I was brainstorming app ideas, she proposed this “virtual wardrobe” app concept. Over the years we continued to discuss and refine the idea, and finally last year we were ready to turn it into a reality.
In the movie Clueless, there’s a scene where the main character Cher uses a computer program to plan her outfits (the movie is from 1995, before the era of mobile apps). Whenever we start to describe the app to a potential customer, they interrupt with “…just like in the movie Clueless!”. It’s an app that many women have been waiting for since that movie came out, and Dressed finally delivers it.
Who is your target customer? What has their feedback been so far?
Our target customer is women who love fashion and who are enthusiastic about their personal style. A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten has revolved around how fun the app is and how much enjoyment people get from trying out new outfits and styles. We’ve seen people who frequently post photos of their outfits to Instagram, Twitter, etc who have started to also post screenshots of their virtual mannequin in Dressed wearing the outfit.
What’s your plan for the next six months?
A big part of the focus will be on marketing and PR, trying to let as many people know abut the app as possible. Also, we will continue to add new features to the app.
How are you different from your closest competitor?
There are a couple other apps that have similar functionality, but their interface is really boring…it’s like planning your outfit using a spreadsheet. We think fashion should be fun, and everything about Dressed was designed with fun in mind—from the way the the clothing sways realistically like real cloth, to the way the virtual mannequin can be customised. We don’t skimp on the functionality of course—Dressed is a very powerful app—but we make sure to keep things as easy to use and fun as possible.
Will you or did you raise money? What will you spend it on?
Development of Dressed has been bootstrapped from earnings of our previous apps. We don’t have any specific plans to raise money right now, although we’d certainly be open to external funding if the right opportunity came along.
What’s the coolest thing your product does?
The coolest thing about Dressed is the way it let’s you mix and match garments to create new outfits and looks. Users swipe clothing right off the rack onto the virtual mannequin, and the garments swish and sway realistically under their fingers. It’s cool because not only does it provide the functionality of creating new outfits, but it does it in a fun and visually appealing way. This is usually the first thing we demo to people, and it gets the most enthusiastic reactions.
What’s the biggest trend in your industry and what do you think will happen?
There seems to be a new fashion-related tech startup every week, and I’ve seen two trends in this area. The first trend revolves around shopping and making it easier for fashion customers to find clothing they want to buy. The send trend, which Dressed is part of, revolves more about people’s personal connection to fashion—pinning, managing, sharing, etc. our favourite garments from our own wardrobes or wish lists. These two trends have started to converge a bit, and I see that convergence continuing in the future.
Do you have revenue at this stage?
Yes, we are selling Dressed in the App Store, so we get a bit of revenue from every download.
How do you juggle a job and a startup?
Fortunately my “other job” is freelance work, which gives me a bit of flexibility in regard to how much time I get to spend on my startup. Still, there’s never enough time in the day for everything, and it’s always a challenge to give everything the time it needs.
What would it take to make you give up the day job?
Theres a minimum threshold of earnings I want to bring in from my freelance work plus my app sales. As soon as Dressed revenue meets that threshold, I won’t need to take on any freelance work and I’ll be able to focus solely on Dressed.
Do you attend any startup related meetup groups, co-working spaces, courses or events?
Yes, I have participated in several Startup Weekend events, which have been a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and to practice developing a startup. Additionally I work regularly at the Sync Labs co-working space in Leederville, which is home to a lot of great Perth startups.
What is your biggest challenge at the moment, apart from the obvious?
Right now our biggest challenge is in our PR outreach to get more press coverage. There are so many apps released every week, it is a challenge to “stand out” and make the press notice. We’re constantly refining our pitch and trying out different news angles to bring more attention to the app.
Tell us the story of how your customer finds your product?
A lot of our customers find us through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We use these channels to post daily with content that will attract those who love fashion. Also, our typical customer is the kind of person who is already posting a lot of their fashion finds through social media, so they are often eager to post about Dressed and the cool things they are doing with it.
What did you get wrong?
My co-founder (and wife) Kara came up with the idea for the Dressed app way back in 2008 when I was brainstorming ideas for apps I wanted to develop. I probably should have listened to here a lot sooner.
If an investor gave you $250K right now, what would you do with it?
We’d probably use it to beef up our PR efforts, and also to accelerate our development efforts by hiring another developer. We have ideas for additional features for Dressed that are more than just incremental. Some of these ideas are major new areas of functionality that we could implement much faster with another developer on the team.
Has anyone said they hate your product? How did you deal with that?
We got an early App Store review that was very negative, but in the most vague way possible…it was essentially “This app isn’t at all what I thought it was! It doesn’t function the way it should!”. It was a bit frustrating because there were no details about WHAT wasn’t working, but I’ve been in the mobile app business for long enough to know that you can’t get too upset about bad customer reviews.
What would you tell someone else in exactly the same position as you three months ago?
I would tell them to assume that no matter how great, useful, awesome, etc. your app is, that it will still be extremely difficult to stand out and get people to notice your app.
If you could go back a year and change one action, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, it would be to start our social media outreach earlier prior to launch. We were a bit afraid of revealing too much about the app prior to launch, and in retrospect it probably would have benefitted us to already have some momentum on our social media pages at the time we actually launched.
What’s the biggest technical challenge you’ve had so far?
Dressed uses a physics-based cloth simulation to to make your clothing swish and sway in a realistic way as it moves. It’s one of the app’s coolest features, but it was a challenge getting this to work and perform well on some of the older model iPhones.
How did you all get together and decide to do this?
Dressed app was Kara’s idea, as it solves a problem that she and many of her friends had in regard to planning outfits and managing her wardrobe. I’ve been developing my own apps and selling them in the App Store for several years now, and when I was ready to start work on a new app, we decided to make Dressed our next project.
What’s the best thing about working with your co-founders?
In additional to being my co-founder, Kara is also our “first customer”, and so we get very early real feedback about what works and what doesn’t. She uses the app every single day, so if there’s something in Dressed that needs improving, I’ll find out sooner rather than later.
And what’s the worst?
For the sake or marital harmony, I’ll say “nothing”. 🙂 But seriously, she’s rather awesome.
What’s the hardest thing about working and founding at the same time?
The hardest thing is staying focussed on my startup. Taking on freelance work can be a bit of a trap since it currently pays a lot better, and so it can be easy to let it be a distraction from the time and focus I need to be spending on Dressed. Fortunately my passion for Dressed and my belief in its future is a good motivator.
We wish Adam and Kara Shaw and Dressed all the best for the future. Visit their site (http://dressedapp.net) to give it a try.