This is Julie Stevanja for Female Startup Club
Hello and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’ve just found us - hi! Love this for you. And me. Every week we’re learning from some of the world’s most brilliant minds in business. Like the co-founder of Wrapd, Julie Stevanja (formerly known as Her Black Book). Julie and her twin sister Sali have been building businesses for women sine 2012 back when they first launched Stylerunner and now they’re back at it again taking the lessons they learnt with that business to build Wrapd. It’s a premium app for shoppers to discover deals and brands.
In this episode we’re talking through the learnings from Stylerunner and the difference between building a brand that’s ecommerce focused vs a tech company, and how that fits into the world of VC a well as a bunch of interesting gems when it comes to the playbook of launching an app.
A quick note on housekeeping. If you love this episode please take a tiny action and share this episode with a friend, post it on social media or leave us a review - and if you want to feature on the show send us a voicemail on Instagram DMs with your question or topic - I’m loving the ones we’ve had come through already!
Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Thank you so much for having me. I am so excited to be here. I feel like we were just touching on this off record. I feel like we've been kind of in each other's orbit for such a long time. And I'm so excited that we're actually getting to do this. And I wanted to tell you a funny little thing for like ever. My whatsapp picture was a photo of me like in North Bondi kitted out head to toe in style runner gear, like back in the early days of 2014. But I didn't, I hadn't even really thought of that until this interview and I was like, that's so funny that I had that picture for so long and it really took me back to that time. Oh, I love that you're an early adopter. 2014 was in our first couple of years. So thank you for supporting us. Way back then, early, early days. I wanna start by getting any wins or oh shit moments that you've had today or this week. OK, a big win. Um We are just relaunching our entire brand. So for 18 months, we've been known as her black book, but we can just reveal, we have a whole new brand name. It is called Rapped uh Raps dot A I, so that comes along with Yeah, totally new UX, new features. Um Everything will new branding suite. It's a whole new era for us. Oh, it's a whole new world. I'm so excited for you. This is amazing. I'm so excited to dig into that. I wanna kind of start more in the early days of your story. I want to go back to, to pre 2012. I think you launched Style Runner, which, which a lot of us. Aussies will be very familiar with. I'm sure, but we're gonna touch on the rebrand a little bit later in the episode. Where do you like to start your story with Style Runner and, and kind of what do you like to share in this part of the journey? Um The really the very first years of Star Warner were fun as, as tough as they were. What I loved about. It was I actually had the idea while I was working for a tech startup. So it was already a really fun part of my life. I actually loved my job. Um The tech startup I was working for and I was living in London is kind of like Netflix but for like art house movies. So if you can get like kind of palace cinema vibes, very cool. The company is called movie, it still around. So I was like living my best life um living in London, working for this FAB company would go to the Cannes Film Festival, but I was working out doing my Bikram yoga. That's what I was into. And, you know, I had the idea actually at Biro in Shabana. Um this like, like honestly this aha moment. Um and so from then on, like it was just spoke to Sally about it, we decided to do this crazy idea. Um And it was a whirlwind journey. But what's really funny is I was talking to my team this week and our growth is mirroring star runner's growth year to year in the first two years. It's unbelievable, but it doesn't feel like it's fast enough. You still want to grow faster, you still wanna grow more. And I think there's actually something really important in that because people look back at Starner and it feels just like this crazy instant trajectory, but it actually is just slow, compounding growth that, you know, not slow, slow. It definitely there were moments where it was crazy, but um it really is just about, you know, getting that incline in on year one and then compounding that in year two and it's a 10 year journey. And so I think it's the same right now. I wish we were growing or I always want to be growing faster. You're always trying to push that envelope. But when I compare it to star and I'm like, wow, we're on that same trajectory. And as a tech company, you can actually scale a lot faster once you get that momentum. Um you'd expect that to pick up, you know, sort of year three, year four. So, wow. And so that's really exciting. I love that for you. What's the difference of like the business model in terms of like the tech piece? Because obviously it was an e-commerce platform. You didn't have a brick and mortar store at that time, like early days, couple of first years. Um You, there, there was obviously tech because it was online, but the difference between what you were doing with style runners and e-commerce, you know, fashion play versus um an app where you're kind of not holding any inventory and not developing products and things like that. What are the kind of differences, the big differences, I guess in growing and scaling these businesses? Well, when you've got products, it definitely requires a lot more capital. So, um you know, if you, if you wanna sell an extra, you know, million dollars worth of sales, you probably need an extra half a million dollars or more, you know, of inventory. Um And so you're kind of capped by how much money you can invest and reinvest into inventory. So it can be a lot like a lot slower and in terms of scaling it once, once you're ready, so once you kind of work out what your fun for growth looks like, like how much money do you tip into marketing and that brings extra traffic to your side? And what are your conversion rates, et cetera. You can kind of have this, you know, like a formula. Um and you could just put more money into it and scale it faster. But with inventory you really um it's, it's capital intensive. And for that reason, we actually found it really hard getting investment for star runner. You know, everyone could see like, wow, you're building a cult brand, but investors really weren't interested in tying up money, a lot of money in capital. Um But that, but there are people that do like it. So it's not to say that everyone on the tech side of things. Yeah, I feel like the Australian market. Well, I mean, Americans more mature with the, with the way that V CS invest, but the Australian market is very much B to B A deep tech, that kind of thing. And, and that's what we see over and over again when you're speaking with investors and kind of getting the lay of the land that that's just what investors are investing in. They're just not really going into that e-commerce space yet, maybe that will change. But I can totally see what you're saying that, you know, with a tech product or an app, you're kind of having that upfront investment to develop the tech hire the developers, yada yada yada. But then your costs don't go, you don't keep requiring that funding, your margins are so much higher and absolutely, your platform is like infinitely scalable. So, you know, you bring more people in, you, you don't need to have the equivalent of amount tied up in inventory. I was just gonna say, because I imagine that quite a lot of your listeners might have businesses with physical products. And I think that um whilst yes, a lot of investors have, maybe it's their area of expertise or what they're interested the deep as et cetera. Um So it just happens to be where the, you know, kind of um pockets of investment are, you know, heavily concentrated. But I would always say to them, you know, the richest people in the world are from fashion, you know, the literally like the, you know, indie founders, the um LV MH group founders, they're amongst the e richest people. So it can be really huge. Exactly. So just because people aren't investing in those areas, like you kind of have to keep pushing, there is opportunity. Um And it's just about finding that right match. What happened for you as star owner? Did you end up getting any investment or, and was that kind of what ended up causing, you know, the business to, I read that you went into administration, the business was acquired, was that part of the, the piece of the puzzle that you couldn't get the funding to keep going? Yeah. So we tried and we, we, we did raise many rounds of capital. So I think maybe we did five capital raisings over eight years. So it felt like a since I finished one. I already need to like, I could see how long that would last. Me and you've got a plan, a business plan and you kind of know, ok, you start the next one here and, and raise that for the next 12 to 24 months. Um And so it did take continual investment until you're totally profitable. So we would have profitable months at star runner. So we could see our margins were improving, et cetera. But if you are not yet profitable, every, you know, like for the for the year, your net profit, if you're making a loss, you need to find investment to fill that hole. So you can either do that personally um through friends and family, et cetera or you can find external capital. So, um I invested personally and, and we did external capital raises and then, yeah, unfortunately, year after year we did that and we kind of felt like we'd spoken to nearly everyone and, you know, and there was also, it's not just about finding a match of people who want to invest in your area. They also obviously need to love your brand. And so for us, like, even if you found people who wanted to invest in retail, it's women's active wear and 99% of the investors were male. Like, did they really care that much? You know. So first you, you've got category match, you've got, you know, is it a brand that they're excited about? And then, you know, stage was another really important one. So we were kind of early stage and there's something called the value of death, which is super depressing. I'm sorry. But is this like gap where really early stage startups seem to have a lot more um funding options and once you're at scale up mode, you know, so you basically know that funnel, I'm gonna put in a million dollars, that's gonna turn into $3 million of sales, etcetera. The value of death is in between. It's the still proving out that this is going to work as a business model and we need another year or two years runway, et cetera to keep getting closer to that, keep improving our margins so that we can get to profitability and there's much fewer options there. So, you know, we did it tough and we, we did have like a lot of wins through that period. But ultimately, one of our capital raises towards the, I mean, the 11th hour type situation um fell over which which means someone can't complete it on the other side. And at the 11th hour, it's really hard to go back. I mean, these things take six months of work. So it was a really large retail investor, not what we expected. And so yeah, when you have to place the business into administration, it basically means that you need, you, you volunteer, volunteer for someone to come in and, you know, look at the books and, and decide how you're going to, you know, kind of make good for all of your, you know, kind of, um, liabilities, etcetera going forward. So, what that entailed was, I was quite active in helping, you know, find a solution for that and we did it very, very quickly, but we went out to partners that we had previously spoken to for investment. So they knew us quite well and one of those partners was Accent Group. So, you know, I've been trying to get them to invest in us for a long time. Um They've got an amazing retail footprint, you know, and they, they could do that side of things very well. So they knew the business they knew um yeah, how it ran and so it was a fairly quick process to get them on board. And um yeah, now that business Star Runner is owned by Accent Group and then obviously I stayed on for two years there and then obviously what we did is we roll out retail stores because they've got a lot of scale in that side of things, right? And the retail stores are so good. It was like really, really fun project. I absolutely love that. And the designer I worked with and the brief was just super, super fun as a process. Um And now there's over 20 stores in Australia and New Zealand. So, yeah. Wow. Wow, how cool. I mean, I know that sounds like I'm sure at the time it was so stressful and such a crazy thing, but it almost feels like it's still such an amazing story and like so cool that that brand is still just doing so many cool things like well done. You. Yeah, thank you. I'm glad that like it found the level of investment, it needed to kind of live up to its potential. So I think it found the right home and you know, obviously that means means the whole team can stay on and you know, I stayed on for, for many years and yeah, it's great to see it living up to its potential. The stores are doing really well. It's really exciting. Yeah, it must be thrilling seeing like, yeah, it come to its potential of being everywhere and everywhere. How does that kind of part of the story lead you to the light bulb moment of rap and like, what is that kind of from A to B? Yeah, so I was still at star on a with accent and um I was, we were using things like affiliate partners and there's there's sort of cash back type partners out there. And I was like, really and like, I was hesitant about using them because we did so much everything we did at was about building this aspirational brand. Um and these partners would drive us really great traffic. So they do have distribution, they weren't quite on brand as partners for us, you know, so we use them as an example. Um I don't want to encourage any brands out there, sort of cash back type brands that are kind of more mass market and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Like so as an example and was doing aspirational sportswear, there's more, you know, kind of um middle of the range sports stores out there, but they are there for a particular demographic and a particular price point, etcetera. So it's not about good or bad, it's just about positioning. So we would use these partners and they drive, I mean, like serious traffic to us. So you couldn't say no to them, but I just wish that they were always just a bit more, you know, they had that halo and benefit as, as a partner that really matched you. So Sally actually had the light bulb moment and came to me with the idea and she kind of saw it from the consumer's perspective and was like, I think we could do this really beautiful um you know, kind of app where we're rounding up all of the, the discounts and coupons and, you know, kind of cash back. But in that sort of premium space and I was like, immediately, even if it wasn't Sally, if there was a brand partner who pitched me and said we're doing this in a premium way. I'd be like, sign us up, you know, that's exactly what we need. And when she came to me with that idea and she was basically me on the shoulder to like poach me from star runner. Um I was like, cool, I love the idea. Round two. Here we go. And I was not even ready for round two. I was ready for, you know, a margarita on the beach and just to put my heels up for a bit of a break. But um you know, that's how the story unfolds. So I love the idea from a consumer's perspective. I could definitely see how it would work and add value to merchants and not just in terms of that like premium conditioning halo, etcetera. But I also as a merchant, like I was, I had been a merchant at star runner for 10 years by this stage, like I just know how it all works and the different levers and the pressures that you have to hit, you know, kind of targets to move inventory. I could see how it could really help um other brands do that in a way that, you know, kind of protected brand integrity, but also just filled gaps that weren't being done. So a lot of those other channels particularly drive discounts and things like that. But as an example, I also thought, well, why can't we do that more for new arrivals as well? Like if someone is a brand fan. Like if you love Star Runner, of course, you wanna know when it goes on sale, like you wanna know the minute it goes on sale, but you're probably also shopping a fair bit from the new arrivals. You know, if you love the brands, they have, you also don't want to miss out on those sorts of things. Um and that helps merchants, you know, maintain those full margin sales, etcetera. So I could just see additional solutions from a merchant perspective that this platform could build out to. So yeah, in a short story, my sister Sally had the light bulb moment, tapped me on the shoulder, coached me from star runner and we've been building it out for the last 18 months with something like that, like in those early days or in those early months of kind of having a light bulb moment. What's the actual business model revenue streams at that point? And how did you go about validating the idea? Because I think like, you know, we hear this a lot, a lot of people have lots of great ideas. There are lots of good things happening, but it is, you know, so key to prove out your idea to prove out that you will get traction to prove out customer market fit before going all in and putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into development of a piece of tech. So I wanna understand like that early phase of what was the business model and how did you validate? So, you know, we, we've been building the business model, you know, with the MVP and in trading on features, et cetera the whole way. So we kind of built the like the smallest version we could, but it did require a couple of things like we wanted to connect with an API to some of the affiliate partners to do the cash back. Like there's, there was just no way of you, you probably could. So actually, I take that back. If you don't have as much um capital to get started, you could probably, you know, run some soury, etcetera and, you know, kind of test that, that there are ways to test conceptually whether something works. Um But I guess for us because we weren't doing something that was completely new. There were business cases that we were, we were paralleled to, we were just doing, there were business cases that really validated the idea works. We're just delivering in a different way to a more aspirational, you know, kind of consumer base and brand base. So we didn't need to validate that part work because we could see it working else. We weren't reinventing the wheel, but we still built the leanest version that we could and got that to market and then just started pitching to brands. So we're a two side of marketplace. Um We have brands that we sign on and you know, they use our platform to promote their, you know, offerings deals. Um We say deals, drops and discovery so deals, but also new drops, etcetera. And also, you know, that exploratory side of discovering new brands that are similar, that you might like, we had to pitch it to brands uh with a very simple pitch deck. I always love pulling together a pitch deck because if you can pull your US P together, show someone that and they're like, yep, I like that. I wanna be on board then that's, that's kind of your test, you're really selling someone to join you. And then from the consumer side, we ran, you know, some really low cost marketing campaigns to just try and get a small amount of consumers into the app, um as quickly as we could to test their behavior, see what they were interacting with, see how often they would come back, et cetera. So really, it was about um getting both sides of that marketplace in and, um, you know, kind of looking at what was working and, you know, kind of testing from there. What kind of money did you need to put in to get it to MVP level? Like when we're thinking about, you know, founders or, or future founders who are listening and they've, they've got an idea, they're interested, they want to understand, you know, are you putting in hundreds of thousands at that point or are you putting in like 20 grand, like, what's that MVP? Yeah, the first um version was about several 100,000. So it was a big investment and we did get investors on from day one. And I guess we were quite lucky because at that stage, we were now second time founders which comes with a whole bunch of benefits, right? It comes with like the 10 years of experience of having like made the mistakes and seen all these things first hand, it comes with a network of brands that we've built trusting relationships with over many years, et cetera. So um it was a little bit easier to get that first, you know, round of capital. But yeah, it was a fairly significant investment. It wasn't, you know, kind of like a, a true MVP of like a, you know, a website form where you're gathering data and getting, would you use this, does this, you know, kind of appeal to you, right? And when you say low cost marketing to get um those kind of early, like the beta group almost, what are some examples of what you were doing there? Uh In the beginning, we did a fair bit on social and we really relied on a lot of our friends, like in the, you need to like recruit your true friends and supporters in those early days, like, you know, tell them all about the story, sell them into it and you know, ask them to like you know, kind of share it if they want to, you know, um when we first launched and I love seeing that like some of our close friends and we don't actively, like, we're not sitting there at lunch going, you must buy this etcetera. But it's really cool. We, we can actually see um like a leader board of people who have earned the most cash back um in our app and it is really cool looking down there and going, I know that person, I've known her for 10 years and you know, like you can see your friends etcetera in there. So, you know, at the, the first thing is bring in people who, you know, who are kind of willing to just be supportive, et cetera, other costs marketing that we did, um you know, was competitions and giveaways. So if you are working with brands or you're making your own product, um I think I love working with product if you can because obviously there's a margin to product. And so the perceived value to consumers is a lot higher than the cost of that product. So um as an extreme, like this is not straight away, this is further down the track. I think we were maybe six months old or a few months old. I think we did in May March. So we're four months old. We did, I'm not expecting most startups to be able to do this. We did a $5000 shopping spree at the and, yeah. Right. Um, it was a pun and we basically, people had to sign up for their email. So we were basically growing our database and we got about 10,000 email subscriptions um, on the back of that and we had to have a bit of budget to push that competition across. Sure. But it would organically go really far. And it was like, is it real like, are you really? And I actually, you know, we went to the store with a competition winner and like, helped give her feedback and like, she was trying on all the different bags for us and I was like, I don't know which way do I go? And like, we actually spent the, you know, kind of day shopping there with her as well. Oh my God, it's so fun. I love that and, and that just, you know, I think 50 cents to sign up was not bad. Um But, you know, someone walked away incredibly over the moon. Um you know, it stood for shopping, it stood for, you know, kind of the premium, uh you know, kind of brands, et cetera. And um there were a lot of synergies. So, um you can do that in small ways or you could actually go like if you're a brand that is spending $5000 a month or a couple of months. Um So it might be that, that you're spending $2000 a month on Google ads. Well, if you had this competition run over two months or 10 weeks, could that actually bring, you know, get you the budget of $5000? Um, like I said, you need to have a little bit to um, help push it just a little bit of spend because competitions like that do go far. Like, what are we talking? Like, you know, 10% should be allocated to budget, probably, probably, maybe even less. So I would test how far it goes organically on its own. Um And, and then it's really up to you, you could spend more and you would work out through your funnel. Um You know, if I'm spending an extra $500 how many more signups does that get me? And you know, if it's, if it's at a, at a rate that you're happy to acquire them at, you could spend more. Um But I would just have a little bit because competitions will kind of um really go red hot and then kind of fall off and then you'd repost that a few, many times. You can only repost it so many times before people are like, OK, I get it. So, you know, with the paid post, you can do that without kind of spamming your organic followers. Um You could reach new audiences that aren't following you, which you, you know, is kind of like a win, win, you could get their database sign up and you could grow your audience following on social when it comes to like an app. This isn't something that we've spoken a lot about on the show. So I don't actually really know the playbook to getting kind of mass app downloads. Is that something that you just rinse and repeat? Like the giveaway strategy, you get emails, then you get them, you know, through nurturing sequences and you get them to download or is there a certain formula that you're starting to follow now that is like do this get this download? I don't know, I don't know the answer to that. We're figuring out where new be to. No. Um It is just so it is kind of like anything. There are things that you try that work for you and then six months later you need to refresh and do something else. So I kind of feel like we're always in growth hacker mode, which is like always testing three or four different avenues. And what does it look like through social? What does it look like through pay? What does it look like with influences and what results are you getting? And so our CT A would always be download the app. Um And we'd be trying that through multiple different channels. Um And then it is yeah, a little bit of rinse and repeat, but as some of those results fade away, then you're trying new channels and you know, you're, um, and once they fade away, things can come back to. Right. So some channels are just, you know, it could be because of seasonality. Um, you know, there are times when it's just really noisy in the market, it, you know, there's all sorts of things. So don't give up on a channel altogether if you stop seeing results and like an example that it would be influencers. I feel like people have had like great results and then you get unfortunately some really disappointing returns and then you kind of swear it off and then you might try it again three months later and oh my God, amazing. You know, so, but yeah, we basically our CT A whether it is through paid, the rest of influencers is is download the app, our web version of our of Rapped has just gone live. So actually a big mess for us and it's just like you're trying to do so many different things and where do you like fit it in the priority list? But was our deals were not visible on our website. So our US p etcetera, our brand funnels were on our website, but like from now a consumer can um browse and because we have thousands of deals live at any one time, it's actually really beautiful to do on your desktop, but you can also do it from your mobile phone. And I love that this and I, I recommend it as a funnel. I can't wait to see what our results will start to show us over the coming months but removing the friction of an app so that people can actually see for themselves like, oh my God, there are brands in here that I love. Like here's the label and Neer and you know, kind of seed. And this is, this is right for me, this is relevant for me like to be able to showcase that as much as possible and then have AC T A. Um you know, we expect this is going to drive us, you know, really great results as well. So yes, you know, drive that ct A home. Um But two don't forget to make sure that you're allowing people a frictionless way to get to know you and experience you before they actually have to make that decision because asking for it too early can, can, you know, they might not be ready yet. An app is a, is a big ask space on your phone, then they have to register and put in their details. Um Yeah, totally. And I think it's always important in, in these scenarios as business owners to observe your own behavior with things to be like, you know, everyone's gonna, if you're, I feel like if you're a business owner and you're like starting an app, you're like, yeah, everyone's gonna download it. This app amazing. But then if you observe how you would choose to download an app. Of course, there is a little bit of a, you know, do I really want this app? I've got a million apps already and, and that's the same when it comes to social media content, it's like, do, would I engage with this content versus like this is a great idea. I think it's always important to observe your own consumer behavior to something. Absolutely. I'm always saying that to not just um yourself as a founder, but even our team, like I say, our team is like our first line of feedback, you know, if you wouldn't respond to the social media, etcetera, then like, why would we put it out there? Um And one thing about apps too, you know, you, you touched on something there and it's really interesting because there's some public data available. Um What was that app that went viral? You know, it was like, it was like, you know, on the second you got a notification be real, right? There's some public data that you can see from be real, which I found really interesting because I know that I often download apps and then it takes me a while to go. Oh, I've got some new apps I need to jump in and explore because you kind of like download them. That's one step, then find time to look into it. Work out how I use it is almost the habit of when you take that. Yeah. And so what you see is that you have this funnel of downloads and registrations being a lot lower. So you've got this gap and you can have a percentage of conversion rate. But even with big real, you can kind of see over time that, that conversion rate increases as people really kind of get the FOMO and they're like, you know, they download it and they're like, I'll get to it then, you know, as your awareness grows, et cetera, that conversion rate improves. Um But that's a gap that you've got to work on too, right? So it's not just the download but actually getting them to get in it and use it and um register. So again, having, um you know, kind of a web version or something like touch is um really recommended for kind of that early phase. Um And then once people really love your app and they want to jump straight into it, et cetera, that's what an app has particularly has a lot of benefits, you know, you're already um signed into your account. So you're getting your cash back immediately, have to, you know, kind of sign in to see all your transaction lists like there are a lot of benefits um when you start to become a really regular user. Yes, totally, totally. You mentioned before that you are always operating in growth hacker kind of mode. Do you have any other examples of marketing campaigns that have been scrappy? But you know, maybe not the most successful but still like driving good results and KPIS and things like that or, or gorilla marketing examples or things that are just kind of a little bit more outside the box than run an ad, acquire a customer. Um One of the things that is on my mind at the moment is interesting because it's not about like a new channel per se or having to do. And we have done lots of those things. We've done gorilla things at the beach, giving things away, etcetera. We had a um a Jeep that we wrapped and we drove around, gave away like freebies. Oh my God. Yeah, it was, you know, back in the days. But one of the things that I really think about is like the use of content. So if you are going to appear in social, um we're looking at OK, which images do we use? And we're like, you know, you've got your brand tone of voice. But I also feel like there's a visual, you know, kind of tone of how you show up and we're pulling together that kind of Bible at the moment. And there are some images that are like beautiful and fashion and safe, but it's like, is that going to get the cut through? And so this is just as valid to test, you know, as it is to test channels is like, you know, what sort of um art direction do you use that gets cut through. And so there are some images that are just like a bit crazy and a bit bold, a bit brighter. But I'm like, but you know what, maybe we lean into that. It's, it's likely to get more cut through. So you're trading off a couple of things there. Like what, what's your brand? You know, like what is your, where is your brand positioning? And I'm not saying that you should do things that are off brand. So these things are still on brand, but they're a little bit louder, they're a bit more disruptive. Um You know, so what I'm saying there is that um you could explore all sorts of um growth hacker type channels and different ways to reach people but explore different content style and see if you can actually get more cut through there. And it could be that it does feel super scrappy to do this. You're doing things that are like a bit out of your comfort zone. It's like, is that really us? Well, let's find out if the customer loves it, then maybe that's us, you know, so that's really fun for me because I love pushing things that are a bit uncomfortable and a bit, you know, kind of disruptive. So the style stores when I worked on the brief and we worked with these amazing designers called noise, noise, noise. So if you're gonna get cut through work with someone that's bold like that. And when we got the brief back, you know, it has like a pink roof and like a teal green blue um terra terrazzo floor and it was quite bold and the teams that accent were like, you know, it might be a bit too much. We want the clothes to be the hero and, and I was just like, no, it's not enough almost like we have to go out there and make a statement. Um And I was really inspired by glossier et cetera. And so everyone was really nervous, but I was just like, no, let's do it. And we didn't, we didn't peel back a single thing from what she delivered to us as a design. And that was often the, the model was like, she'll, she'll give you something crazy and then we'll take it back a few notches. And I was like, no, this is it, this is what we're going to market with this. Um And the consumers like their stores are doing so well, consumers really love them. They stand out, you instantly know you're in a store or in a store. And it would have been such a pity to kind of be a bit more safe, you know, do the white walls, et cetera. And so I feel the same way about being disruptive with content. Um It's an art definitely is a fine balance. Um But you know, play with that, that, that is a way to stand out that maybe not a lot of, not enough people might be, I don't know, experimenting with. And I also feel like if you're a bootstrapped brand, this is actually a real advantage that you have to be bolder with your voice to be louder with your voice, to be bolder with your choices because you don't necessarily have someone dictating whether you can or can't do that. And also if you think about, you know, big legacy established brands, of course, there's a million pieces of approval for someone to get something across the line. When you're a bootstrapped founder, you can be so scrappy and have so much fun. I love it. Yeah, absolutely. And you know what, run them in a paid ad campaign without a huge amount of budget and just see which one's gonna get you the better conversion rate. Like it literally is that simple? It's not about. Oh, but I think this one looks better and it's a little bit more safe. It's actually about which one is gonna get you cheaper conversion rates, cheaper customer acquisition because if your budget can go 30% further, 50% further, 100% further by doing something that's a little bit left of center. Um Why wouldn't you test that? Oh, yeah, I love that. I feel like this is a great segue into the rebrand. Why did you decide to rebrand? Why did you decide to change the name? And how did you kind of validate doing that. Yeah. So um Sally had this idea. So she came up with the whole idea for the concept and she like bookmarked this brand in 2018. And at the time we launched, it was a question about, you know, there was a lot of things going on with gender, et cetera. Um but we just had to move quickly, you know, it was one of those things where we could have spent an extra six months going, let's do more testing and do we find a new name? And by the way, it takes a long time to find a new name. So it took us, I would say at least nine months to come up with this name. So I kind of felt like even when we launched, we were questioning it, but we didn't have nine months to delay the launch and go, what else would we call ourselves? So, um we love the concept. It's still a beautiful name we launched and in the background, we were almost immediately going, we know we eventually need to open ourselves up to um you know, just not being so specific in a gender way because actually the platform that we use, we have brands that we have a lot of male customers. So we have brands on like the iconic like Nike, like, you know, um selfridges, et cetera. I mean, my husband shops on it. We have lots of males that shop on it and there's great amazing deals and discounts. Like why would we um you know, kind of make that gender specific and then as we want brands to scale. So I spend a lot of time on the brand side, like, what can we do for your brands and how can we help you grow and thinking about the strategy of that? Um Again, there's no reason for us to, you know, kind of be um gender specific. So we knew that it was coming. It just took as long as it did, we went through hundreds of brand names. How did you come up with it? Literally a list of things that we like. So we did a whole brand position first, like, you know, we're friendly and this and not like so brand spectrums like we friendly. Yeah, so we kind of did a whole thing on our, on our brand where we sit et cetera. And so the important thing to note is that we're still in the same sort of positioning. We're not um you know, yeah, it's still kind of an aspirational halo effect on the, you know, kind of brand deals, et cetera. We wanna be premium, we have a lot of premium brands on board that we want to look after as well, right? We have Net or we have Gucci, you know, like we, we wanna make sure that we're still beautifully positioned and I think that, you know, we've been able to do that. Um And so we then came up with brand names that we felt like would potentially work without positioning. And it was just like, rule it out, rule it out for all these different reasons, come up with new names and there must have been hundreds and we would do it with our team and then we'd get feedback on the short list and none of them would survive and we'd go for like around 10, you know. Um And this was just kind of like a, a side project that we allocate a small amount of time to on a rolling basis. So, you know, our day jobs were driving growth, etcetera, but we'd come back to this like once a week spend, you know, half an hour on a park, it move on. Um And so it does take a long time. Um But we love this and like what we love about the brand name wrapped is that there are many connotations. So for one, there's like, you know, a wrap of something is like a curation, you know. So we have incredible brands. So this wrap of amazing brands is curation. If you buy something and it gets delivered, it's often in packaging. So it's like the unwrapping of like, you know what you bought yourself. So there's that physical connotation of goods and then the joy, you know, like if you're wrapped with something, that's what I was about to say yes. And that's ultimately what we want our platform to do. You know, we want people to really like, feel wrapped. It's about the savings, the deals, the brands that they can't see anywhere else because we've really worked hard to like, I think we've got a, an unparalleled like list of incredible brands, especially across our key categories which are, you know, kind of fashion and beauty, but also um home and, and children's wear rapidly growing as well, but that there isn't like amazing list of brands. So it's the feeling we want to leave you with and why the dot A I is that because it's hard to get a dot com, you know, a short letter word dot com or is it because you want to move more into A I with your tech and that kind of thing? A little bit of both. Um There were some reasonable ones we could get like get wrapped dot com. So, you know, we could find a dot com if we wanted. Um But we definitely um are playing and leaning into the A I um what our feed does. So if you come into rap, there's an explore feed which is a bit like when you go into in Instagram, explore they're brands that you may not be following. You can just see everything that's trending, et cetera. Um But with A I, we want that to be more and more relevant to you. So if you're interacting with like either really premium brands or, you know, kind of homeware brands, you know, the A I is obviously going to deliver much more relevance to you. Um And then you have your following list, which is kind of we almost think like a visual inbox of brands that you follow. So it's kind of like, you know, I no longer have to subscribe to, you know, like all of that sort of stuff. You never go, never go into your inbox. And there's so many issues with um subscri you know, the email subscriptions, we kind of see that as like this beautiful new modern version, it's built for purpose. So there's so much more functionality in there and like a new feature that's just gone live with wrapped is the brands that you're following into, subscribe to when they go on sale, we can push you a notification so that you instantly know when your favorite brands go on sale because there's nothing worse than getting that email and you check it three days too late. And you're like, oh, I just missed that 24 hour flash sale from my favorite brand. How annoying is that? So, will it be possible to do that with? Um, it's like specific products? I feel like I'm someone who's like, I want that dress, I can't afford it. I'm gonna earmark that and the day it goes on sale, I'm always like to my best friends like if you see this go on sale somewhere. Can you just like remind me because I want that product? Yeah, there is so much in our road map and product level is definitely in it. So um yes, it's it's in the future. One quick question I had around brands that you're partnering with, you know, when it comes to someone like Gucci, for example, it feels to me like those are the kind of brands that don't discount, they're, you know, very protective of their brand. How do you actually go about negotiating terms with a brand like Gucci to get them to do a deal? Yeah, so first, I think it comes from the fact that, you know, we're ex merchants ourselves and we understand that there are brands for who this side of our app, which is the duels, et cetera is appealing. We make sure especially with the new look and feel of, of rap, like I love that the cash back is now in gold. Um You know, so it's all done in a premium, beautiful way. So firstly, yes, we are communicating sales but we're not using that really traditional like red screaming at you, you know, it it still looks like a really upmarket, beautiful kind of e-commerce experience. You know, it's it's um done in with those brands positioning in mind. Um So there's brands that, you know, we understand that works well. We understand also there's brands for whom that does it and that's why we are also really expanding this drops um part which is just like it, people can subscribe to your brand and find out when you've got a new collection, like, you know, Gucci did dog beds and like, how fabulous is that? Like, that's news. Like that's something that you would want to hear about. So, um you know, there is the newness which is fine, we're fine for brands that just want to play in that space. And then another really important part that brands particularly in that sort of positioning like Gucci Love is our um is our editorial. So there are many brands for whom they, you know, will love to be featured in the magazine side of things, which is, I guess, you know, it's the kind of the, the pinnacle of those three things. Um And we have a fantastic, you know, editorial writer who's, you know, ex harp is bizarre, et cetera. So we, we write really beautiful editorial, et cetera. So yeah, it's, it's understanding, we know where you are positioned. We're not gonna put you in any place where you don't want to be. Um And if you have any specific requests, let us know and we'll literally engineer those around you. And yeah, I think you can just have a very transparent conversation and yeah, so clever. I love it. What is your key piece of advice to anyone out there who has an idea in the app space or building a tech product or kind of going on that journey already. Oh, my key piece of advice. If you're not an engineer would be to try and find a, you know, a tech co-founder are either of you and Sally technical co-founders, not engineers. I wish I was. Um but no, but we have an amazing CTO who came on fairly early in our journey and like, you know, we almost see him like our, our third, you know, co-founder, he's that integral to our business. So, you know, finding someone that you can really work very closely with key, key piece of advice. Yeah.
So question number one is, what's your, why? Why do you wake up every day and focus your energy and time on wrapped? I love doing things better and like solving problems for people for us. That's like solving things for our merchants, but it's also solving things for our consumers and like, how do we do that better than the existing offerings they have today? I don't know why I'm obsessed by, by that, but I just love doing it because I know it's solving problems for people and it's making their lives better. It's making their lives easier. Amazing. What's been your favorite marketing moment so far? And I feel like we can go style runner and wrapped, you can choose from whatever you like. Oh, I would love to give a wrapped answer, but I'm actually gonna go star runner here. So I have um it is funny now but at the time it was crazy and that is when we redid, we call it our wet hair moment. We did our entire e-commerce website with a very editorial look. It was just like before anyone was doing that. You know, now they do things that look quite in a magazine desk. We, it took us so much longer to upload these images than we expected. I mean, it took us days. So we actually had to shut down our whole website for two days and yeah, a abs absolutely stopped sales. And so then we turned it into a something big is coming teaser. The campaign, not out of preplan that months in advance, but out of sheer desperation and not knowing what to do. Um But it had, it created so much hype and like what is coming and then it just, it went off and like the the traffic went through the roof. People loved it. Um And so that was fun because sometimes things feel crazy hard at the time. Um But if you keep pushing, you can make the best of any situation. Oh, I love that. There was a big silver lining there and I feel like that would have worked really well for like press and everything off the back of it as well. And we didn't tell people at the time like we leaned into, you know, this, this was a campaign, you know. Yeah. Oh my God. I love that question. Number three is, what's your go to business resource? Where are you learning? Whether it comes to a book or a podcast or a newsletter, I really, it's a bit old school, but I really love Harvard Business Review. Um I find like a lot of the articles really relevant to, I guess, maybe also like the leadership side of people in psychology, which I just love that said there are so many, um, you know, podcasts, incredible things out there. But I'm gonna say this one thing, which I just don't think is said enough when people give you a resource, like a podcast or a place to go read things, you read their curriculum often in their order. What I highly recommend is people take the time to don't do that and think about what your number one burning question is and just Google it, you'll come across five or six different options, find the one that you think is, is most suited to you and answer the questions that you really need to focus on right now. And so I feel like if people actually just googled the next step they need to do instead of going, I'm going to go and, you know, listen to so much overwhelming information. It's all great, but it's not relevant to the moment that you now need to focus on the next step that you need to take. Oh, I love that. It's so true. You don't need to be thinking about step 100 because that is step 100. You need to be thinking about step today and step tomorrow. And also I feel like chat GP T is like your literal second brain best friend. You can be getting so much information for your current whatever it is you're trying to do. We love A I that right, which is so good question. Number four is how do you win the day? What are your micro moments or habits that keep you feeling happy and motivated? I try to get it out for a walk first thing in the morning. Like if I get a little bit of fresh air and a bit of exercise, everything is better and I try to listen to some music on that walk because I think music is also an amazing mood enhancer. Um So if I get those two done, I feel like I'm winning. Love that. Me too. Love music. What's been your worst money? Mistake in the business? And how much does it cost you? Oh, I remember at Star War and so on the top of my head when we first launched, we didn't know what type of products you know, people would buy. And so we had to make assumptions and then you test and then you learn. And so we bought on a lot of these beautiful, almost like a quiet luxury movement that's happening right now. That kind of like very lulu lemon esque, like no logos, et cetera from these brands in the US that were hugely popular with celebrities didn't sell at all. The stuff that we sold was like the fun, bright bold pop, you know, things that were like, clearly different. Um, and so yeah, we spent tens of thousands of dollars on inventory in our first range at, um, and then, yeah, we probably could have tested. We were just moving so quickly. It was just like, get it in and test it and like we did it in the leanest way possible. It still adds up. That's there's a, a lesson out there for someone to test that in a leaner way. You have the time and question number six. Last question, what is just a crazy story? Good or bad from your entrepreneurial journey? Um Sally, and I still remember the moment that we got on the active wear brand at the time, which is still like a legendary brand at us by Stella mccartney. Um That was the first big major brand we got on and we went out for lunch with a and this was like, we have to get this deal. This is like a make or break moment and we were ready to pitch like our heart out and we still remember them kind of having the conversation with us around why they thought the brand logo, you know, would be a great fit for us. And they were like, really impressed the community and we were like kicking ourselves under the table. So, you know, sometimes you get the and then I'll, I'll never forget that story, you know, really comp, you know, it helped build the trajectory and the, you know, kind of the credibility of star in those early days. Hm. Actually remember that. That's so crazy. Such a long time ago. That's amazing. Congratulations. I have loved talking with you. I've loved hearing about rapped and what you're up to and what's happening. I'm excited to be your hype girl and watch what happens. Thank you. Where we're rapped. Um We're really, really, really super pumped about like the next, you know, sort of 6 to 12 months and the new features, like we drop new features probably every two weeks. Um So I think that's another thing. It's like, you know, come along for the journey with us, download the app. Um or if you, you know, if you're not ready for that step, if you want a date first, it's like rap dot A. I like go and check it out and you'll see all the brands on there which I know you'll fall in love with. Um You know, I think people will, you know, really enjoy it, but we'd, we'd love for people to come along the journey with us and see those features as they continue to evolve because it's not, it's not done yet. It's still the very beginning. Love that for you. Love that for all of us. Thank you so much, Julie.