In 2014 Dean Jones left a job in investment banking to turn his passion project with his wife, Audrey Khaing-Jones, into a business.
The pair closed a $500,000 first round of seed funding round with AirTree Ventures in April — the third Australian business to do so after DesignCrowd and Pawshake — using it to take on two key staff and improve the startup’s e-commerce website.
We asked Jones about the steps he took to get, GlamCorner, an online rental service for designer fashion, off the ground and attracting the interest of Australia celebrities such as Samantha Armytage and Margaret Zhang. This is his advice.
Ilter Dumduz, a former executive from Matt Barrie’s Freelancer.com has joined as the chief product officer along with Joel Plane, a former engineering lead at Birdsnest.com.au, as head of engineering.
“We invested a lot of time early on to find the right team after closing this round,” co-founder and CEO Dean Jones told Business Insider.
“Making a compelling enough offer can’t just be done with money in this situation,” he explained, “we needed to offer a chance to be part of an exciting and rewarding journey.
“Being backed by a top-tier VC and having an ESOP [employee stock ownership plan] set up under the new tax laws helped a lot to offer this and to bridge the gap to ‘market’ on things like compensation.”
Get advice from those in the know
The biggest lesson he learned when seeking VC funding was to have an extra set of eyes to identify aspects you many not have considered.
“Good VCs ask you questions about your business that you never even thought of – particularly around how to make it more scalable,” he said.
“It was really helpful to get challenged on some key questions early on about how we can think smarter about our business.
“AirTree were very thorough and asked us some really good questions about how to identify the main performance levers in our business and how we can invest in them to make us the clear market leader in this fast-growing and disruptive space.”
Know when to scale
As part of GlamCorner’s growth strategy Jones increased the data and analytics capabilities to improve consumer engagement.
Now its warehouse and bookings operations are streamlined with the ordering and logistics process.
“The launch of our new site marks a major milestone in our plans for expansion,” said Jones.
“Now we have to push to get the fashion rental concept more mainstream and scale our business to cope with the demand levels that we are starting to see.”
Never leave your to do list empty
“We have a very fulsome product pipeline of feature enhancements to roll out for our site – all of which are geared towards providing even more delightful user experiences for our customers across all devices.
“We’re constantly on the lookout for new designers to start stocking – both locally and internationally.
“We’re also doing a lot of work in the background on improving order fulfilment processes and logistics to enhance scalability.”
Craig Blair from AirTree Ventures says GlamCorner has shown “initiative and hustle” in its expansion.
“[The business has demonstrated] product/market fit and customer traction using a Minimum Viable Product, then raising capital to fund a product rebuild using real customer data as well as expanding the team to prepare for scale,” Blair said.
Jones says there will be additional rounds of funding in the future “when the time is right” to expand the team, improve the tech and logistics platform, fund inventory growth, and accelerate marketing.
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