Collar Club Ltd: Hasan Mustafa
The experienced business man discusses his start-up's hopes to revolutionise men's fashion and how to successfully target your network to raise finance
Name: Hasan Mustafa
Company name: Collar Club Ltd
Date launched: 02/02/15
Tell us what your business does:
Collar Club is a premium shirt subscription service with a monthly membership fee. On joining the club, members receive eleven made-to-order Egyptian cotton shirts, which we make in Italy. Each week thereafter, five shirts are collected, laundered and delivered to members' work or homes as part of an all-inclusive monthly fee. This full service shirt subscription and concierge service ensures members will never be without a perfectly fitted, crisp and clean shirt again.
Our aim to disrupt and revolutionise menswear retail. We want men to only have high quality clothes in their wardrobe, which are also affordable and current. We plan on growing our offering across multiple categories to create a premium menswear subscription service across the globe.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I have spent more than two decades as an investment banker, managing large teams and complex businesses. Part of my role involved considerable international travel and I was left frustrated with the quality of shirts and more critically the time it takes to care for them.
All I wanted was to always have ready-to-wear, crisp shirts in my wardrobe. The idea for Collar Club came about one fine morning while commuting to work. To come up with a viable business model, I actually spent months taking notes of chores and activities I performed from the moment I woke up until I returned home from a long day’s work or a business trip. It was researched, refined, researched a bit more and refined yet again until it was ready to be launched.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I have researched and planned the entire business including the smallest of details from a potential customer's point of view. Once landing on a basic concept, I started noticing hundreds of shirts hanging at tube station based laundry kiosks, guys carrying shirts during their lunch breaks while it rained, folks going home on a crowded tube with hung shirts in one hand while trying to hold onto the rail for support and playing on their phones.
I also noticed people getting their stock of shirt replenished every few months or so as their ‘four for £100' shirts, not surprisingly, gave up after a few wash cycles. Conversations with friends and colleagues led to the discovery that most were dissatisfied with the entire customer journey – from buying to care. London is a phenomenal place to start a business where time comes at a premium. Collar Club takes all the hassle out of the process and leaves customers with time for what they actually want to do.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was running debt capital for emerging markets at a large global bank in London.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I have worked in business in some capacity for a long time, so I suppose yes.
How did you raise the money?
I invested considerable amount of my own funds and brought the start-up to a stage where we could credibly seek external investors. I then went about raising seed capital by focusing on my own network of relationships across the banking and financial services world.
I completed a highly detailed business and financial plan, and together with all the work that had been done by then on web design, packaging and branding it was a good time to reach out to people. I sat down one Thursday morning and crafted an email to a list of my contacts with an attached investor summary and by the following Monday morning after that weekend, we had commitments in place for our target amount. Thank you my friends!
Describe your business model and how you make money:
By combining made-to-order luxury, a concierge experience and a subscription business model into a unified and seamless platform for menswear, Collar Club has created something unique. We use the same Italian shirt-makers who already work with some of the most prestigious global menswear brands but without the overheads of the traditional bricks and mortar we can deliver the same quality to members without the added price tag. We then uses a highly advanced washing system that is gentle on the shirts and the enviroment.
Bundling the buying, after care and delivery into a seamless service makes us an exciting new proposition in a fast evolving consumer market.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
We are rewriting the rules of consumer behaviour by carving our own destiny from the footsteps of companies like Netflix, Made.com, AirBnB and RenttheRunway. Even though we have had setbacks our biggest challenge actually lies ahead of us as consumers interactions with products, services and brands continues to evolve at a warp speed.
What was your first big breakthrough
The launch – we are taking baby steps towards creating something totally new and feel this is a long but exciting journey that has just begun.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
My best advice would be to identify your start-up's risks upfront – personal, professional and financial. Assess them and re-assess them before you make the jump and launch your new company.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I want us to be a leading luxury menswear subscription business with both online and offline presence in key global cities.