Most retailers are struggling to innovate. They really have to rethink their business model.
Robin McGowan already had a strong entrepreneurial flare. He launched his first business venture with a friend called James Wakefield; the pair sourced sim-card backup devices from China and sold them to their classmates.
A decade later after both graduated from UTS, Robin and James developed their next venture, InStitchu, a men’s bespoke suiting business.
Robin says InStitchu is now disrupting the suiting sector the way Uber did taxis.
“(Most) retailers are struggling to innovate,” he says. “They really have to rethink their business model.”
While InStitchu now has seven showrooms across Australia and is also in Auckland and New York, it’s primarily an online retailer. In their showrooms, customers get measured by a stylist, who then shows them how to use an iPad to design their own suit and make their next purchase remotely.
Online customers who are not sure of their measurements can also use a 3D body scanner – InStitchu has an agreement with mPort available in select shopping centres. As well as suits, customers can buy shirts, ties, pocket handkerchiefs, sunglasses and shoes.
While at UTS, Robin says the environment was really conducive to entrepreneurship. He had studied a Bachelor of Property Economics and James a Bachelor of Business. They met many other students who were starting ventures and bounced ideas off them. “Even though their businesses were quite different, it was really helpful just to speak with other students who were facing the same challenges,” Robin says.
Robin’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to find a co-founder to have someone to discuss ideas with and to share the good and bad times. “It helps to have someone in your corner,” he says. Also, he’d encourage people to build their networks and find a mentor in their industry.
The idea for InStitchu grew after McGowan had a frustrating experience trying to buy a suit off the rack. When he found that many of his friends had had a similar experience, he and James started ordering suits for them from overseas.
As the orders continued to flow in, the pair realised they had the makings of a business. They found a Chinese supplier who could deliver a custom-made suit in three weeks and InStitchu was born. McGowan says that with the rapid pace of technology in five years’ time he believes customers will be able to design their suits, place an order and receive them the very next day.