Q: How did the idea for your business come about?
A: I've always been fascinated by how people use technology while they make decisions. When my wife, Ivy, started sending me selfies when she was trying on clothes, I realized there had to be a better way. The pictures were blurry, she was standing at awkward angles to get a picture in a mirror, and I couldn't tell exactly what she was trying on. Stylinity is all about solving those problems and making that process better, easier, and more fun.
Q: How do you see the future of Stylinity? Are the possibilities endless or will you maintain a more narrow focus?
A: For now we're really, really focused, but long-term the possibilities are endless. The data we gather when people share lets us make recommendations about size and style, lets people track products, and opens up all kinds of possibilities. Eventually this will expand into home goods and any product where style is an important component of the decision making process. Properly tagged, high quality, user generated content enables all of that, and that's what we help people create.
Q: How do you see the future of retail in 10 years?
A: I think we'll have fewer stores, but they'll be much better. Everything will be genuinely omnichannel, and user generated content and sharing will mostly replace traditional marketing. Influencers - the tastemakers and people whose sharing leads to retail sales, will be rewarded for doing so, and instead of a small number of supermodels, being a style influencer will become a lucrative career.
Q: Can you tell us one entrepreneur & one non-business person who influenced you and what inspired you about them?
A: I'm most inspired by Elon Musk, and from what I've read of him his mind works much like mine. He built Tesla without an automotive background and made the best car in the world, and he's doing similar things with SpaceX. As someone without much fashion/retail background, that inspires me to disrupt and improve another industry. On the non-business side, I'm influenced by Teddy Roosevelt. At the Battle of San Juan, he implored his troops to, "Follow me!" and led the charge himself. That inspires me as a leader to lead by example and to ask of others only what I'd ask of myself.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A: I love actually bringing something to life. There are lots of great ideas out there, but turning an idea into a product, and a product into a business, is an enormous challenge. It's incredibly satisfying in a way that a "job" never really could be.
Q: Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path you are on today?
A: I did. I'm an avid skier, and when I was 20, I was extreme skiing on the Horstman Glacier. I had an accident and ended up falling off a pretty serious cliff, but I lived and was lucky enough not to be seriously injured. I probably should have died that day and that evening I kept thinking about how easily that could have been my last day on Earth. I realized I only have so much time to do what I want with my life and that window of opportunity can slam shut in an instant. I decided then to pursue my goals and dreams with intensity, and to not let fear lead me down a safe but less fulfilling path, because from that moment on I've been living on borrowed time.
Q: Your favorite article of clothing or fashion trend?
A: My favorite article of clothing is my Diesel Larkee jeans. They're incredibly versatile, and I can wear them with anything from a t-shirt through a jacket and tie, plus they're really comfortable.
Q: What did you want to become when you were little?
A: The first time I heard the word "entrepreneur", I knew that's what I wanted to be.