July 13, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Sarah Neill, Founder of Mys Tyler

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The first half of my career was marketing. I worked on both the client and agency sides, delving into customer insights to work out how to best communicate our solution, and sometimes I’d be feeding into to help make our solution better. In 2012, I had an idea for a new product that I pitched to the owner of my company; instead of giving me a budget to trial it, he gave me funding to create my own business and build it. This was my first experience building a company. The second half of my career has been building and scaling companies.

Across both parts of my career my dominant field was telecommunications – which has nothing to do with fashion. I’ve never been particularly fashionable or enjoyed shopping, but I still need to get dressed everyday and when I like what I’m wearing I feel a lot more confident. My friends that like shopping always look great themselves, but were never good at shopping for me – they’d perfected shopping for their body, not mine. I used to wish I could find someone that was a similar height, shape, size and colouring to me – whose style I liked and just copy them. When I started talking about this idea, it resonated with so many women – even the ones that like to shop. And Mys Tyler was imagined.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I bought the domain back in 2014 when I first had the idea and started mapping out what the app would look like. Living in New York meant I needed a work visa, so I stayed in my corporate role and just thought about Mys Tyler on the side.

I decided to quit my job to work on Mys Tyler full time in Australia, and was accepted into the Antler program which kicked off January 2020. It was a 6 month program that provided a peer network, startup education, advisors and mentors. During this time we built a web quiz using celebrity data to test out our matching algorithm – we ran a small marketing campaign on Facebook “find your celebrity body double” to prove our interest, test our algorithm, and demonstrate the cost to acquire a user. We used this validation to pitch to the Antler investment committee and they became our first investor.

From there, we turned the web quiz into a mobile app which we launched in August 2020, and started recruiting real women who we call “contributors” to share their fashion wins with our community. By February 2021 we had enough contributors for our full launch.

Now, we’ve had 110,000 women from over 100 countries download our app, and match with our hundreds of contributors to find fashion inspiration that is body-relevant.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We have attracted women to our platform through a range of marketing methods – the majority of our community is active on social media – so Facebook and Instagram advertising has been really effective. Media features have been another fantastic way for women to learn about what we are doing. We’re passionate about sharing the stories of our community and we put in a lot of effort to continue to grow and retain our amazing contributors. Some of the ways we do this is through our online social channels, in-person fashion discussions, and photoshoots. We’ve also just launched our first collaborative fashion festival with Toombul Shopping Centre which includes 50 days of styling, fashion panels and a fashion show as our finale – this type of activation is a whole new way we’re connecting with our online community, in-person.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

So far, we raised our first $1m which we used to build our product, and attract all sides of the network – learning a lot along the way.

Now we’re focused on engagement within the app, ensuring there is enough content that is fresh, relevant and quality to keep our users coming back and finding utility in the platform.

We’re not focused on revenue yet, our business model is affiliate marketing which is well tested, so investors in this space now that if we can provide a platform that users find valuable, and we can reach scale with our audience that revenue will come.

Eventually, we want Mys Tyler to be the place to head to for relevant recommendations on clothing that allow users to find and buy clothes that fit (and that don’t need to be returned). We want to be solving one of the greatest inefficiencies that exist in fashion e-commerce – poor fit, by creating a more personalised and empowering shopping experience.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

If you think about fashion, it’s traditionally been very inaccessibly aspirational. Store manequins, runway models and the women featured in advertising represent a very narrow group of bodies, which has meant most women have felt excluded, or found it more challenging to shop. By matching women with their most relevant contributors, we are serving many underserved niches that have felt underserved, and by understanding these different points of views and perspectives, we’ve learned a lot about opportunities to exist to improve the experience for so many women

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

As a tech business, we have a lot of data coming in and so understanding this so we can optimize our operations is critical. Here are a number of our most important tools that we use:
● Metabase – our Dashboard and analytics hub to see what’s happening across the business
● AppsFlyer – to see where downloads are coming from – what marketing activities are working
● Customer.io – for our email communications
● Canva – for most of our creative assets
● Slack – for team collaboration and communication
● Jira – for managing our engineering tasks

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

For startups in general
– The Lead Startup

For our business in particular right now
● Blitzscaling
● Platform Revolution

For leadership
– The Leadership Star – Written by one of our investors and advisors Brian Hartzer, Former CEO of Westpac – honestly, Brian is an incredible leader and mentor – not everyone can have access to him, but through this book, you can really get his help in a truly actionable way.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Think about your MVP (minimum viable product) what’s the lightest touch, lowest effort way for you to get validation for your idea. Think about all the assumptions you have for the business and then think about how to test each one. But also, just start, because things are always harder, more complicated and take longer than you expect, and it’s not until you start that you figure that all out.

Where can we go to learn more?