LA Startup Spotlight: Guys Shop Online With unscruff

→ by Geena Urango < @urango >
at 1:47pm Aug 8, 2012

The new ecommerce startup unscruff is a simple and personalized shopping service for guys. unscruff helps guys buy great clothes and avoid the mall. Each customer builds an online profile in 5 minutes and then receives a personalized box of clothes at the start of every season – spring, summer, winter, and fall. The startup likes to think of themselves as a wingman for personal style. unscruff is based in LA and was founded by two former USC Marshall alums Jay Nunn and Bangaly Kaba. After just launching in mid-May, they are growing rapidly, increasing revenue 35% on average every month.

Read below to find out more about unscruff and the founders themselves!

1. Pitch us your service in three sentences or less.

unscruff is a simple and personalized shopping service for guys. We help guys buy great clothes and avoid the mall. Customers build an online profile in five minutes and then receive a personalized box of clothes at the start of every season – spring, summer, winter, and fall.

2. What made you decide to focus your company on that service?

J: A problem that both Bangaly and I have is finding great quality clothes that fit us well, and we realized that most guys have serious issues with some part of the shopping process. It’s just broken for a lot of guys. We started unscruff to address this pain point and provide a better way for guys to get great clothes.

3. How big is your team? Can you describe your company’s culture?

B: We’re a small but versatile group. Depending on what were doing, we are a team of 8-10 people including two founders, our Social Media Director, Creative Team, two developers, and a controller.

4. How did your company get its initial funding?  Do you have any advice for emerging startups on how to deal with funding?

B: We are still self-funded and bootstrapping our business, and we would like to stay independent for as long as we can. We’ve considered fundraising but think it’s in our best interest to stay lean and grow by ourselves. We would advise startups to find an anchor investor in the form of an advisor – someone with experience investing in their space – to shepherd them through the process.

5. Has your company ever had to pivot?  If so, what was that like?

J: We’ve actually pivoted several times in getting to where we are now, and each of those pivots has been moving us in the right direction towards a better, more compelling business model.

B: It’s hard to recognize when you need to pivot. What has helped us is being meticulous in keeping notes on what we’ve learned from our experiences in customer development. We try to be practical about where we are strategically and where we need to be to make our vision work.

6. How do you deal with competition? Do you keep tabs on other companies that are doing similar things?

J: We know our space really well and we know the players in the space. In many ways, competition is just validation for our business model and the market opportunity.

B: It’s hard to know where your competition is going relative to where they are now, but we do check up on their websites and read stories on them in major publications. We give 1% to keeping tabs, but we spend 99% of our time focused on what we’re doing and building value for our customers.

7. Tell us a little about your background? What made you want to start your own company?

J: I was a civil engineer turned operations analyst after business school. I learned the value of dressing well pretty early in my career, so I was drawn to starting my own business in part because I’m truly passionate about this space, but I’m here to build something of my own that I know I’ll be proud of.

B: My background isn’t in fashion or ecommerce, either. Prior to unscruff I worked in the education industry and then in financial services on Wall Street. I’d always been entrepreneurial in previous positions and in starting some other ventures. Building a company I believe in and am passionate about was a big reason I made the jump.

8. What are your thoughts on the LA entrepreneurial scene?

B: It is under-appreciated by people who aren’t in LA, but there are a lot of great things happening here and there’s a lot of excitement in the community. LA is finally starting to get some recognition for being a legitimate hub of great ideas, specifically around subscription commerce, marketing, and digital media. It’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds.

9. Who are your three most influential entrepreneurs? Why?

J: I like the GILT Groupe story for what it says about the ability of a few really smart people and some innovative ideas to disrupt an established industry.

B: I’m a big fan of Ben Horrowitz, both for the companies he has built and for how he thinks about the entrepreneurial space. Also, Jack Dorsey because he’s an amazing dude who runs two incredibly disruptive and forward-thinking companies.

10. What’s the hardest/best thing about being an entrepreneur?

J: I think the hardest part is trying to find good work/life balance because you can literally work 24 hours a day and never feel caught up. The best part is waking up every day and actually being excited about going to work and facing a new set of challenges.

11. What’s one of your most successful decisions? Can you share something that’s worked really well for you that you think other entrepreneurs could learn from?

B: One of the most successful decisions we’ve made was in not overbuilding our site and service when we launched. As a founder of a business, there are a lot of things that you want to see your business do from day one, but rarely do you need every feature at the inception. It’s really hard to pare back to just the critical feature set and to be okay with it, knowing that your first customers are going to be early adopters no matter what. We were able to do this by getting a lot of feedback from early customers, seeking advice from more experienced entrepreneurs, and learning to manage our own expectations.

12. What are your next goals? (Either for the current venture or for the company as a whole)

J: We’re continuing to build our team and are rolling out a couple of great marketing partnerships. The main goal is to continue growing and to continue improving the experience for our customers.

B: We’re looking at bringing on a couple new hires that should really improve our technical team and we’re building out a new member platform for our customers.

Follow @unscruff on Twitter and Like them on Facebook for more updates.

 

About the Author: Geena Urango

@urango

Geena Urango is a graduate student at the University of Southern California. She is currently working on her Master's in Communication Management with an emphasis in Marketing. After finishing her 4 years of eligibility at USC playing for the Women's Volleyball team, she is now training for beach volleyball, and is currently on the USA Beach Volleyball U23 team. Aside from academics and athletics, Geena has had multiple internships in Marketing/PR and aspires to pursue a career in this field. Likes: traveling, mediterranean food, sandy beach hair. Dislikes: country music, bees, slow Internet

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