In conversation with LOOK Co-Founder & CEO Tamas Locher
LOOKK connects designers directly with consumers, using the power of an open social network. It provide tools for designers to promote, produce and retail their products worldwide, so they can gain exposure and build their brand. In doing so, LOOKK creates a transparent and truly engaging process for an audience of discerning shoppers, fashion-lovers and industry experts, and the means to influence the success of upcoming fashion designers.
G: Tell us about your startup, LOOKK
We are LOOKK :)
LOOKK is a social fashion platform that empowers customers to discover, support and influence new and upcoming fashion worldwide, and provides unique access to what has, up until now, been an underexposed and highly guarded section of the market.
We aim to harness the power of the internet to change the way young designers and labels enter the fashion industry. Enabling designers to directly reach their customers through their own ‘Social Look Book’ and to explore the effects of an open social network as a key element in building their brand and business. Online and offline.
We recently launched the 1Hundred Designers competition alongside a prolific panel of fashion-industry insiders, including renowned blogger Susie Bubble and fashion designer Manish Arora. With a production deal and prizes worth over €50, 000 at stake, it is the perfect time for designers to upload their collections and for fashion-lovers to explore LOOKK and become supporters of the labels they want to see succeed now.
On the one hand we’re looking forward to acting as a local hub for new designers, on the other, we are equally excited about translating this unique energy to a worldwide audience through our website.
Being the new kids on the Shoreditch-block (boxes unpacked last week), stop by anytime and say hello!
G: What were the biggest obstacles in launching your company, and how did you overcome them?
Oh my God. We were stumbling into obstacles with a frequency that was pretty inhuman. But this is the challenging and fun part of being a start-up. Solving problems and finding a new business model that scales step-by-step is an addictive process. During and after this process you really start to understand why investment banking is soul-sucking and that money is just a commodity.
Some of the obstacles:
- Finding the product/market fit
- REALLY understanding the customer
- Raising money is always a pain in the ass
- Moving to the UK from Austria and the cultural aftermath of it. Think we’ve got this sorted now though.
- Manufacturing & sourcing of fabric for new designers
- Finding an office in Shoreditch was a particularly tough obstacle
G: What would you say has been your most memorable moment since launching LOOKK?
There are some great memorable experiences from the phase where we had absolutely no money – we were a group of random people united by a vision and untested assumptions. We tried to bootstrap a company that now, even with backing, is hard to build.
Looking back, it is an absolute miracle that we are still alive. Looking forwards, we still have a long way to go. But we’re excited.
G: Can you give us a few ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ for setting up a new company?
- Only work with people you have a good gut feeling about. Even with those people, you will still be disappointed sometimes.
- Connect with fellow entrepreneurs. Many of us bring a great network to the table and naturally like to help each other.
- Work with the best lawyers
- Only have variable costs or no costs at all ;)
- Get into incubators and accelerators as a first time entrepreneur
- Close yourself down in your room. Speak about your idea and make yourself visible. Speak with customers and your target group. We were and are still learning this the hard way.
- Waste your time on fundraising as long as you have no team and at least a very decent prototype in place. Once you bring the data & traction, investors call you. Really.
- Work with contact brokers and middlemen in general
G: Why did you choose Shoreditch in launching your startup?
It is a natural fit for us as a tech/fashion start-up. It is great to meet fellow entrepreneurs for lunch or coffee in the area. Being based here is socially accepted. This means I can hold meetings in my office and do not have to go to others. This saves me a lot of time. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.
G: What does the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ have to do to compete with Silicon Valley?
Shoreditch is great and potentially the most advanced ecosystem in Europe. A comparison with Silicon Valley might be fun but is useless. Europe is different and has small and fragmented markets. Accept and deal with it. It is beautiful in its own way.
We are just about to reach the tipping point for the critical mass in Shoreditch. We can all feel it :)
With respect to help, the Government should only define the framework and not set up fancy grants. Instead, they should heavily incentivise bankers to put their money into start-ups or funds that invest in startups. The Government also should supply cheap and flexible leases. London is ridiculously expensive for young companies that try to innovate.
G: Who/what are your favourite entrepreneurs/startups in Shoreditch?
- Geoff Watts of EDITD
- Nico Perez of Mixcloud
- Michael Acton Smith of Mind Candy
- Thai Tran of Lightbox
- David Langer of Groupspaces
- Chris Morton of Lyst
G: What does the future have in store for Shoreditch?
Less media agencies more geeks :)