This interview is part of our series of Growth Stories. We interviewed the founders and CEOs of 20 of the fastest growing startups in Europe. We asked them about their companies, their companies’ culture, and their lives, trying to understand how these three factors played a role in the achievement of such impressive growth.
This series of growth stories has already 16 interviews under its belt. After so many stories, we can start seeing that there are a few patterns that distinguish the fastest-growing companies in Europe.
One clear pattern is that many of the startups that I interviewed propose — in one way or another — “content” as part of their offer. By “content,” I mean articles, videos, and even podcasts that tell stories about the product that’s the core business.
The same goes for About You, which is another great example of the content trend. Founded in Germany in 2014, the company is an online fashion store that also offers a lot of inspirational material on clothing and style.
Currently available in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Poland, About You makes no mystery of its intentions to expand to other countries soon.
To know more about its ambitions and, more in general, about the future of online stores, I reached out to About You’s co-founder and managing director Sebastian Betz.
TNW: What differentiates About You from its competitors?
Sebastian Betz: We’re quite different from all other fashion companies and online stores. Usually, on an online store, you need to know beforehand what you’re looking for and browse through all the different categories. There’s little room for the kind of inspiration you get when you freely stroll around a shopping mall. About You tries to replicate this physical shopping experience of “strolling around” onto the digital realm.
About You is also for people that don’t want to buy anything but just be inspired on what to wear and how to match colors. Also, it’s a great way to stay abreast of the latest trends.
So it’s not really “about you” but about the latest fads imposed by the industry?
No, I’d say that it’s quite the opposite. We’re all about wearing whatever you want and creating your own style. Our recommendation system is highly personalized.
We focus on our customers with all their diverse personalities and aim to encourage them to express themselves with their individual styles through the fashion they like.
Then, you’re almost a content platform.
Yes, definitely. What we have in mind is an equivalent of Spotify or Netflix for fashion. People can get inspired about what to wear the same way they are suggested new songs and films. “If you like this, then you’ll love that”. In this sense, the whole About You is at the end a recommendation system.
What’s something new that you plan to add in the future?
We believe that we have a great technology and we want to offer it to other retailers that want to do the same thing that we’re doing.
We think that more and more online stores in the future will be based on this Netflix-like model. That’s why we’re offering our back-end infrastructure, called “backbone”, by providing state-of-the-art API, the About You cloud.
Now a couple of questions from other entrepreneurs that I interviewed for this series of growth stories. Daniel Reina (CEO Tappx) asks: What’s a thing you would change if you could restart your company now?
I don’t know. You make so many wrong decisions when you start a company. The only thing that matters is if the good decisions outnumber the bad ones.
Alex Zivoder (CEO GoHenry) wants to know your answer to the famous Peter Thiel’s interview question: “tell me something that is true that almost nobody agrees with you on?”
I think that 90 percent of job titles are irrelevant. At the opposite, you see a lot of people that work their assess off just to get a new title on their contracts. Of course, what matters is what you actually do and what impact your work has, not what you have on paper.
And what’s a question you’d ask the other entrepreneurs that I’m interviewing in this series of Growth Stories?
I’d say: What’s the app or product that came out in the last year that had the biggest impact on your life?