A little over a month ago, hundreds of developers and hackers packed into AOL's Palo Alto headquarters, and in three other cities around the country, to take part in AngelHack, an organized chaos run by Greg Gopman and his team. The purpose was to build, code and shape web and mobile apps that made people's lives better. One of those teams, Fashion Metric, a Santa Monica, California-based company that calls itself the "Pandora for clothes."
At the last AngelHack, they succeeded handily at building a cool app, so we asked them a few questions about the AngelHack experience to find out why anyone in their right mind would spend all day, all night, and all weekend, building something that might not work out for the best?
You'll love the answers. And the video that explains FashionMetric.
As background, the Windows Azure team is a backer of AngelHack, and BizSpark regularly serves as a media partner for AngelHack, driving some coverage of the events on the ground and supporting Gopman's efforts to grow this enterprise to scale so that elite hackers and hard-core builders of apps have a place to create and a channel into bettering the worlds of the consumer and enterprise.
What did you do before the event to prepare for AngelHack?
FashionMetric: Fashion Metric competed and won the startup competition Lean Startup Machine in Santa Monica the weekend prior to AngelHack. We focused on talking to as many potential customers as possible before going into AngelHack. This allowed us to have the confidence to know we had more than an idea, we had a real validated problem. We discovered that men have difficulty finding shirts that fit their body type well and although they would want to shop online for convenience reasons, they didn’t due to concerns about fit.
Why compete in AngelHack?
FashionMetric: After winning Lean Startup Machine (LSM) we had serious team momentum, we knew that AngelHack would drive us to continue forward with the same intensity and excitement that LSM had. While LSM is focused on validating the business idea, the next logical step was to build the prototype. AngelHack offered the perfect framework to build our solution and get more feedback on both the problem and the best approach to solve it.
Why build? / Why take the road of entrepreneurship? Why now?
FashionMetric: This has been a dream of ours for a long time now. After winning LSM and making it to the AngelHack finals we realized we had a unique opportunity to turn our dreams into a reality. Morgan and James are quitting their day jobs and Daina is leaving her PhD program at UCLA to make this happen. Daina and Morgan are excited to get married in August and want nothing more than to work together full time. Team synergy is the key, we all are ready to take a risk to change our lives and do something that we love.
What does it mean to you to Hack?
FashionMetric: To hack is to do something different, to innovate. In our case, we set out to bridge the gap between the physical and online worlds, enabling men to buy shirts online that not only fit their body type but also match their personal style. Only 7% of clothing shopping takes place online, our hack is the foundation of something much bigger that we think is going to change the way people buy clothes online.
Why do you think your team was able to succeed at AngelHack?
FashionMetric: We knew from day one that it wasn’t just about having a great idea, it was about solving a real problem. It takes a great team to solve a big problem. We weren’t fixated on solving the problem one particular way, but instead stayed laser focused on getting consistent of feedback to drive innovation in our product.
What platform will you be developing for and why?
FashionMetric: We are initially developing a web application. In the beginning we want to keep things simple while reaching the widest group possible. Our web app will be easy to use on any computer or tablet without requiring a huge development team to make it happen.
What are the biggest challenges for you at this point?
FashionMetric: Our biggest challenge is ensuring that what we build provides the best possible solution for our customer segment. As a team we love the fit problem, but we also realize that the ideal solution might be different than our current hypothesis. By keeping customer development at the core of our feedback loop, we are consistently improving the platform and learning from our users.