Let’s Break The Ice- what are we drinking?
We are drinking Negronis. When I started Tailor Made, I spent a lot of time in Florence at the Men’s Fashion Events. Negronis are the drink of Florence – so that’s why this is my drink of choice.
Both your companies- CleanCloud and Tailor Made- are part of the clothing and services industry. What made you want to get involved in industries such as this?
I like to combine services and technology – it’s all about disrupting industries and being nontraditional. When you think of tailoring, you think of men, tape measures and inside leg measurements. When you think of dry cleaning, you think of paper slips, small spaces and poor customer service etc. So both companies are about improving customer services. Tailor Made – uses a body scanner to take your exact measurements- this in turn produces better fitting, high quality garments (in less time) while maintaining a personalized service. CleanCloud is all about empowering small businesses – giving them the technology to better service their customers.
You were lucky enough to pitch Tailor Made on Dragons’ Den a few years ago. What was that experience like?
I was the first person to be interviewed in over a year- it’s tough and they do grill you but it is a great show and the experience was very true to it’s form. The business that I pitched, was again, a low form cost of tailoring – unfortunately, they didn’t invest but it made me begin questioning my business model and how it could be made better. It made me change it, improve it and do things differently. I like to think that if I was on the show now, that it would be a totally different outcome! I even make suits for a lot of the Dragons now!
Tell me a little more about CleanCloud- I see it is being used all over the world, which is pretty remarkable!
CleanCloud is a software that powers dry cleaners in nearly 60 countries now. It started as a system built out of Tailor Made. We used it to track garments going to and from their alternations. It also started because I would always lose my dry cleaning tickets, which meant the dry cleaner often couldn’t find my clothes. I suggested the software to Thomas (my dry cleaner) and he loved it! That was the light bulb moment. From there, we spent 6 months building the system – instead of tickets, customers were getting emails and text messages, making payments online, using an app and the list goes on- they were loving it.
Tell us about the suit you are wearing?
I have a very laid back, casual sort of style. I tend to wear a jacket, jeans and custom made sneakers. Our brand is all about choosing your own style and not being pigeonholed.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who are just starting out – in terms of conceptualizing an idea, funding etc?
A lot of young entrepreneurs reach out to me. It’s all about trying to take an idea and really scrutinize it. You have to think “ if I was putting my whole life on the line for this, would it work? Would someone buy it, would people enjoy using it”, etc. Some entrepreneurs think that they will become Mark Zuckerberg overnight (which may happen) but for the majority of people, it will take longer than you think. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world were not overnight successes- they’ve been working at it for over 10 years. In terms of funding, that’s a difficult one. I started three of four businesses without any funding but with CleanCloud we got quite a bit of an investment. An investor can be both good and bad but it’s necessary, if you do want to scale fast. Equally, you can also start with nothing- these days if you have a website and good social media, you can create a very big business.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
It’s a tough question but I would probably go with Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix. Netflix is a massive disrupter in the industry- they took a very traditional industry such as a video store, where you would go to rent videos/DVD’s and turned it into an online concept. They don’t only just put the content online and provide a great service but they are also producing their own content. I can relate all of this to my businesses -applying technology to a traditional business – all with the aim to improve experience which in turn adds value to your end customer.
Videography: Cors Media
Photography: Jack Lewis Williams
Talent: John Buni
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett
Location: Tailor Made London