We talk to the CEO and co-founder of Fitbay, the fashion inspiration and discovery app connecting users with similar body types.
When we first wrote about Fitbay in March 2014, the company was in private Beta and offering a fashion discovery database for like-minded and like-bodied consumers. Trying to combat the frustration customers often encounter when ordering clothes online — and the resulting high returns rate for commerce outlets – the platform lets users browse clothes based on their body shape; be it triangular, muscular, pear-shaped, broad, oval, or otherwise.
Users first sign up and briefly describe their shape, weight and height, and Fitbay finds “Body Doubles” for them — these are other users with similar physical qualities. They can then browse brands, sizes, and items their Body Doubles have been buying for fashion inspiration. The Danish company flourished, closing a USD 2 million round of seed funding, brining in tens of thousands of users in the initial months, and was named as the third fastest growing startup in ecommerce and fashion industries by growth-tracking database Mattermark.
However, after noticing that user-generated photos were what customers engaged with the most, the company pivoted. “It was very clear for us what aspects of the product people thought were most fun,” CEO and co-founder Christian Wylonis tells us. On top of looking at numbers and behavior — what people are viewing, what their primary activities were — the team spent a lot of time talking to their users. “I think that’s super important, having these live sessions with people.” Christian admits that him and his team make up the core users themselves too, often subjected to providing feedback.
The updated Fitbay now focuses on the social aspect of online shopping. The company introduced elements that let users interact with others more — enabling them to share selfies of what they were wearing everyday, letting others react more on photos by liking and commenting, and facilitating the discovery of new Body Doubles. “Basically everything to do with connecting with people who are similar to you, in terms of fashion inspiration, style and your body — that’s what we’re focused on, “ Christian says.
This change led to accelerated user and engagement growth: over the last 12 months, Fitbay saw a 750% rise in user base and hit a milestone of 250,000 users. One of the biggest challenges faced by the company was hitting a critical mass of users and activity, but making the platform fun, Christian believes, has attributed to its popularity — Fitbay hopes to include aspects of gamification in their service in the near future.
In saturated fashion and social markets, Fitbay finds a place by offering a platform for meeting other “real” people with “real” body types. “I think we’re tapping into something interesting,” Christian says, “For a long time fashion has been dominated by professional fashion people, professional photos, and I think people are reacting a bit against that. Now everybody can be a fashion inspiration to somebody, we’re trying to make fashion real and make it relevant for people.”
The company is beginning to partner with some of the world’s biggest retailers. “We’re getting a lot of interest about the content we’re generating, based on all the photos, body information, and sizing.” Fitbay hopes to connect users with retailers more seamlessly, making it easier for them to make purchases based on the inspiration they’re getting from the platform.
In terms of key learnings from Fitbay’s journey, Christian believes that he overestimated the value of the initial idea. “A lot of projects start with something that they think is a good idea, but as a company and a product develop, you really realized that the most important thing is the people involved, and your ability to change.” He encourages entrepreneurs to be patient, learn from the product development and the audience. “We’ve made a lot of mistakes during our time, but luckily we’ve made more right than wrong, [so] the company has been able to grow in the right direction.”
Learn more about Fitbay here.
4th November 2015