This week we talk to Anna Alex, CEO of Berlin-based startup Outfittery. The pioneer and market leader in curated shopping for men in Europe, Outfittery works across eight countries, styling men across the globe.
1. First can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
We’re a personal shopping service for men, so every customer gets a stylist who is then putting together a box with outfits and sends it to the customer. So he doesn’t need to go shopping, or care about going shopping and still can look good.
2. What brought you to this area?
We saw a huge opportunity in the menswear market and were inspired by a friend of ours using a personal shopper in New York and was very happy about the whole shopping experience. So my co-founder and I started thinking about how we could bring this online and manage to combine it with the advantages of ecommerce.
3.What time does your day start, and what does your typical workday schedule look like?
A lot of meetings, talking with people, I’m a big of fan of really talking to the team in person aswell, and also getting some inputs from the outside world and giving the vision to the team of where they should go.
4. What kind of projects are you currently working on?
We have been working on getting into more countries now, there’s still a lot of potential to grow. It’s always about improving prospects, improving the service for the customer and growing.
5. What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
I’m proud of the team that we hired here; they’re really a bunch of very good people. I’m proud of the growth that we’ve demonstrated and showed over the last five years. I’m actually proud of being one of the rare innovation businesses in E-commerce where the rest of the industry is not very innovative.
6. What is the one app you could not live without?
Of course the Outfittery app! ☺ No, I don’t think there’s anything that I can’t live without.
7. What’s your company culture like?
Very open, we have a lot of feedback; I think that’s important.
8. Where is the after work hangout?
We have a big roof terrace at Outfittery, and in the summer we hold joint barbecues there and after work.
9. Who is your professional role model?
I don’t really have a professional role model; it’s hard find someone in the same space that I would call a role model in that regard. I met Mark Zuckerberg last year in Berlin, and he is a visionary, very down to earth, interested and curious at the same time which I liked.
10. What makes Berlin a good city for technology and startups?
It’s still cheap, rent is still comparably low, there are many many startups and it’s a city where everybody can be how they want to be, it’s not a very judgemental city.
11. Which tech trends are you most excited about?
We shot a 360 degree-video in our showroom last autumn and sent cardboard glasses with the boxes to our customers so they could watch it. Two years before we built a 3D scanner; a “men-scan”, with the Kinect technology. We’re definitely trying to stay at the forefront of all of this, to try it out and see which ones provide real added value to our services and to our customers. We’re also investing a lot in machine learning, artificial intelligence and have a whole team around that, there’s probably some quite exciting things coming out of that team.
12. What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
Cultural fit, that the person is hungry and wants to prove themselves.
13. What do you think can be done to increase the number of women in tech?
I think it’s about roles models, and inspiring other women to start their own business. In Berlin there are quite a few by now, who really stand out but – I think it’s going into the right direction.
14. And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
In the end I think it’s about focus, and focus at the right time and on the right thing, but always only focus on one thing and not try to solve everything at once. In the end, you should solve one problem really well rather than trying to solve all problems.