Dressboom: Katerina Furtak and Aleksandr Furtak

The female entrepreneur talks growth hacking, getting 1,000 sign-ups in a few hours and tapping into the global sharing economy

Name: Katerina Furtak
Company name: Dressboom
Date launched: 12/10/2015 
Location: London
Website: www.dressboom.com

Tell us what your business does:

Dressboom enables women to express, improve and find their style within a global community. We believe that people are the main influencers in fashion and have created a cool marketplace for them. We’re a shopping app for preloved fashion.

In our app people create their own looks from combining existing garments, mixing and matching from previously worn and recycled clothing. You can get style inspiration and buy your next outfit from a trusted person.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

We have launched a similar business in Ukraine. It was a Fashion Swapping Platform and we got 10,000 users, who made 7,000 transactions over a year.

We are great fans of sharing economy and smart consumption.

How did you know there was a market for it?

After arriving in the UK, we realised there was a great demand for shopping pre-owned clothes.

British women are leading the way in buying pre-owned fashion online, with over 60% of the female population now switched on to buying and selling pre-owned clothing online. During the past five years, the number of women shopping secondhand clothing online grew by 30%.

However, 85% of buyers claim that shopping secondhand fashion is not easy and fun. Poor presentation, uncertainty over delivery and quality all prevent purchases. We decided to remove all that uncertainties and create an inspirational, stylish marketplace with sweet prices.

What were you doing before starting up?

Dressboom has two co-founders, Katerina Furtak (CEO) and Aleksandr Furtak (CTO).

Before launching Dressboom, I worked at two major construction projects in Ukraine (Olympiyskiy Stadium and Airport ‘Boryspil’) as a senior assistant to the CEO and a head of the organisational department. I also spent years woking in marketing and business development in the travel industry. I was responsible for partnerships with global hotel chains.

Aleksandr got project management experience within a global corporation, Black & Veatch. He was responsible for implementation of Biological thread reduction projects for Ukraine and Georgia. He also launched an engineering company in the Ukraine.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, from childhood. Both, me and Aleksandr, have participated in the launch of several businesses: from selling newspapers and mobile phones to launching an engineering company.

Now our goal is to grow a global, profitable business.

How did you raise the money?

In 2014, we participated in Happy Farm acceleration program and got first investment from the business accelerator. In May, we got further investment from the European VC Fiedler Capital.

We were reaching investors on our own: contacted many of them via email, at events and have pitched a lot in public and applied to different competitions.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Dressboom is a peer-to-peer marketplace. People sell their fashion items to each other. We make money on commission from each sale.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge for a marketplace like Dressboom is to grow demand and proposal simultaneously. You need to have content in order to attract users, and you need to have users in order to generate content.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Getting a 1,000 sign-ups within a couple of hours, our servers were overloaded.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

1. Ask your potential customers right questions
2. Learn about growth hacking
3. Travel, meet people and be all ears.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

All over the world!

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