We recently caught up with Gulnaz Khusainova, founder of Danish startup EasySize and winner of the 2014 edition of our startup competition for women founders in Europe, the StartHer Awards. Here is the interview.
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StartHer: Two years, almost three, have gone by since you won our competition and came second in LeWeb startup event in 2014. Can you tell us what happened for EasySize since?
GK: A lot of things have happened!
We raised two rounds of investment. We indeed managed to get some interest from investors, among which a couple of French Business Angels such as Fashion Capital Partners and Nicolas Santi-Weil, co-founding partner at The Kooples and now CEO of the fashion brand AMI Paris.
We fully launched our product, “size advice” as we call it. We have also been active to scale up to several markets in Europe (Scandinavia and France mainly) and we’ve started our expansion to Asia.
Finally, we enriched our team. We have a few people working for us from the UK, the Middle East, the Asia and soon we will be getting several desks at Station F in Paris!
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered in these two years?
I think that almost everything that we did didn’t come easily, even though we are called EasySize!
Finding the right product/market fit was particularly challenging. We had to ship the product several times, to make it evolve and to improve it. We also had to define and change our sales strategy.
Another big challenge for any company at any given time it to find the right people when your startup grows. Not only finding someone who has the right skills and experience for your company but who is also as passionate as you about the entrepreneurial journey.
What are the latest product developments? For instance, I saw that EasySize launched a chatbot.
We’ve been experimenting different ways with our product. We have now two main features: size advices (which is the original product: size recommendations on the product page) and size filters ((a feature that filters a product catalogue and selects items in your best size and available in stock).
To sustain the product development, we worked a lot on the technology, the algorithm and the data during the past years.
EasySize is a Danish company, you have offices in Paris and Singapore: how do you consider Europe in your development? And the world?
Europe remains our main market, France and UK are our primary markets, where we have customers. What is interesting in Europe is that every country is different, especially when it comes to fashion.
Last year, we launched our product in Asia and the region was quite responsive. That’s why we are expanding our presence in key Asian markets.
Europe markets are more stable, they don’t change that fast. In Asia, things change really quickly and the markets are very fragmented. The good thing to prove is that we are market agnostic but it still changes how we do sales, communicate, etc.
What are your main takeaways from your experience at our event in 2014?
Company wise, it helped us to get attention from French investors, it was a very nice push. It also helped us with our business development in France, which is an important market we targeted. We managed to talk to other online shops, to meet customers…
But above all, personally. The event allowed me to meet other female founders, it was a great human experience. I was able to talk to other founders about problems I faced at that moment and have their advices on it.
This contest is more than a one time event, it’s a strong community and it was a very empowering place to be.
It was pure excitement, we helped each other and I am still in touch with people I met there. This contest is more than a one time event, it’s a strong community and it was a very empowering place to be.
What is the most striking memory you have of it?
I think it’s the moment when we, the attendees, were taking the photos at the end of the competition. We were on the stage all together. It was a good representation of the event: it doesn’t feel like a competition. It was like we were a bunch of greats startup founders having fun together.
If you could give one piece of advice to candidates?
Can I give two? For the pitch itself: it would be to be as specific and as clear about your product as possible. Make possible for everyone to understand the problem you tackle.
On the other side, treat this event as a start of the relationship with the community. Don’t treat it as a one time thing. Try to make friends, to meet people among the organisers, the attendees, other founders, etc. some of them will become your friends!
You can find more informations about the StartHer Awards on this page.
For this edition, the startup competition will take place at Station F on October the 19th. It will be preceded by workshops during the afternoon, conferences and meetings with the ecosystem and the 10 finalists, opened to the public!