We’ve all been there before. You’re browsing your favorite clothing brand’s website and come across a shirt you absolutely love. Excitedly, you pull out your credit card and proceed to buy it. 5 days later, your purchase arrives, you try the shirt on… and realize the fit doesn’t look nearly as good on you as it did on the model. The founder we had the pleasure of interviewing this week has created a company to address this issue. Please meet Vik Venkatraman, co-founder of Clothes Horse. Clothes Horse’s product help shoppers find better fitting clothes. They collect a few details about the shopper and process it through a set of special algorithms to make a size recommendation. In this interview, Vik (@vikvenkat) gives us an inside look at his company, its product, as well as some insight on running a company.
StartupLowdown: Vik, first off thank you taking the time to do this interview. To start, can you describe what Clothes Horse does?
Vik: Sure, Daniel, Thanks for having me. Clothes Horse is solving the problem of buying clothes that fit. Retailers license our product for their e-commerce, and shoppers use our product on retailer sites to figure out what sizes/items will fit them best. As a result, we increase sales, decrease returns, and increase shopper loyalty. In addition, the data we glean from the hundreds of thousands of shoppers on our network allow us to create analytics for our retail partner that inform everything from inventory planning to merchandising to product design.
StartupLowdown: Can you talk a bit about the company’s history and how it has grown since? How did you and your co-founders come up with this idea?
Vik: Our company is nearly two years old now, and we’ve had a great ride. Our team was initially working on a clothing company – V Bespoke – and started making technology to automatically size shoppers to our brand. We realized that this would be applicable to the entire industry, and repositioned ourselves as a technology company. Since then, we’ve proven that our product works, that we make tremendous ROI for our retail partners, and that we bring a ton of extra value through the insight and analytics that we have access to through the data and shoppers on our system.
StartupLowdown: What results are your partner retailers seeing after implementing your product?
Vik: Increased sales by up to 25%. Happy shoppers coming back twice as often. Tremendous feedback. Reduced returns. Plus we get this done simpler and faster than any of our competitors.
StartupLowdown: I’ve read about other companies trying to solve the same problem as you, but are going about it by customizing each item by taking measurements, or even taking body-scans. Can you talk about why Clothes Horse chose an alternative approach?
Vik: The goal was never to try something alternative just to be different. Our product has been designed from the ground up with only the shopper and retailer in mind. How can we launch quickly for our retailer if we’re busy photographing or customizing items? How can we serve the largest possible number of shoppers if we require them to drive to a store or measure themselves? These things make people abandon a web experience. Rather, by using our expertise in snappy user experience, cutting edge predictive analytics and machine learning, and a wealth of data (not all of which is publicly available), we’re able to create a product that can be live with a new retailer in less than 2 weeks, and helping a new shopper in less than 20 seconds.
StartupLowdown: What has been the most rewarding aspect of running this startup?
Vik: I love the process of meeting amazing people at brands and retailers I love, and discovering the things that make them work. Our company has a lot of data on the preferences and behaviors of shoppers — and often, in a conversation with the retailer, we can discover a new way in which our product can change their business for the better. Talking to smart people at great brands, and solving problems together — super satisfying and something I could do every day.
StartupLowdown: Could you share anything about some of the immediate and long term goals for Clothes Horse?
Vik: Effect real change in this industry. Change the apparel business from one driven purely by gut, to one that uses data to inform decisions across the entire business — and in the process, build real value for our retail partners and for ourselves.
StartupLowdown: Vik, we’ve had a great time speaking with you. Thanks again for sharing with Startup Lowdown!