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Tom Adeyoola (Founder, Metail) - Why Your 'Brilliant' Technology Fails To Have Impact


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This video for this talk from Business of Software Conference Europe 2018 will be published here soon:

A rugby playing economics graduate with limited interest in fashion, Tom founded a fashion tech business. Why? His wife hated shopping – trying stuff on, feeling bad because clothes didn’t fit, not wanting to go shopping again… He saw clothes shopping had significant customer pain, understood the market opportunity and thought about the simplest way to solve the problem.

Tom recognised he couldn’t relate and empathise with customers without a team of people that could. If you want a great business, you need a workforce that represents your consumer base or you will not build products people love. Tom will discuss the challenges he’s faced in ten years building Metail, why diversity is hard but makes makes economic sense, and why he doesn’t think of his team as a family – more of a Formula One team.

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Tom Adeyoola (Founder, Metail) - Why Your 'Brilliant' Technology Fails To Have Impact

  1. 1. Why your ‘Brilliant’ technology fails to have impact Confidential – for intended recipient only
  2. 2. 2
  4. 4. 4 What I Learned from Sportal… • Started 1998 • Raised & spent £100m • 375 people, 9 countries • Sponsored Euro 2000 & Juventus for 3 games! • Administration 2001 Timing wrong! Ex-colleagues successfully floated for £500m, 2012
  5. 5. 5 What I learned from 3… Took 6 years for the handset to come along to deliver on 3G expectations…and it wasn’t even 3G!!
  6. 6. 6 What did I learn from MarquisJet? The European market wasn’t big enough for scale
  7. 7. 7 What did I learn from my time in the arts? Market not ready or just too small
  8. 8. 8 How about Inspired? Ideas are all about customer problems & needs
  9. 9. 9 Smoking ban unintended consequences… …but too little too late
  10. 10. 10 Multi-win roulette x2 revenue = no-brainer!
  11. 11. 11 Wrong – we forgot about something key 3x 100 hr weeks later…..
  12. 12. 12 How did we win? People Market Defensibility
  13. 13. 13 Timing was also critical Gaming Act 2005 Implemented 2007
  14. 14. 14 2007 I was ready to go alone
  15. 15. 15 I needed an idea solving real customer issue MINIMISE
  16. 16. 16 Consumers want the same as always Price Quality Convenience
  17. 17. Making clothing fit for all
  18. 18. Every Garment… …for Every Body to try on By digitising…
  19. 19. 19 • Founded 1998 • Raised $135m • Spent all and bust by 2000 • Blue-sky’ed every idea in online fashion retail Big ideas: • Free returns • 3D garment visualisation • Virtual assistant The company I nearly joined in 1999…
  20. 20. 20 My focus on avoiding failure People Market Defensibility
  21. 21. 21 The classic UK tech problem Vs USA UK
  22. 22. 22 The classic UK tech problem USA UK Vs
  23. 23. 23 For all the talk of tech startups… Total valuation = $139.2bn Total valuation = $121bn Highest ranked EU tech company in world global companies at #56
  24. 24. 24 Timing key to ability to be global player
  25. 25. 25 But….. Icelandic banks
  26. 26. 26 I started in a UK market that was in decline… GREATER ENGAGEMENT MeModel Try-On
  27. 27. 27 Also we were blocked… RETAILE
  28. 28. 28 And key focus had become
  29. 29. 29 We were saved by… People Market Defensibility
  30. 30. 30 We also had to become a no-brainer “…any technology startup must …build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way... Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter.” — Ben Horowitz
  31. 31. 31 How we extended Metail to deliver more value CHEAPER IMAGERY GREATER ENGAGEMENT BETTER PRODUCTS Composed Photography MeModel Try-On Customer Size & Shape MAKING CLOTHING FIT FOR ALL
  32. 32. 32 Metail’s core pillars for the clothing industry MAKE CLOTHING FIT FOR ALL Drive EFFICIENCIES Create EXPERIENCES Generate INSIGHTS
  33. 33. 33 Global trends accelerating change meant the market finally caught up 
  34. 34. 34 The threat of Amazon… Source:; Bloomberg; Drapers; The Wall Street Journal 55% of mobile product search starts
  35. 35. 35 Global loss of cheap and ethical labour
  36. 36. 36 Protectionist moves towards local manufacturing
  37. 37. 37 New consumer pressure on the supply chain
  38. 38. 38 DISCOVER Paralysis of choice => personalisation The challenges of modern commerce are opportunities DECIDE Always mobile => convenience Know your customer => speed PURCHASE Bra size: 32D Waist: 68 cm Hips: 98 cm Age: 28 Height: 1.73 cm Weight: 64 kg Recommended size Recently purchased Returns: 30% Spends: £40/m
  39. 39. We can also help enable a more efficient consumer centred supply chain
  40. 40. 40 People and the consumer
  41. 41. 41 Perfect example of why brilliant technology fails
  42. 42. 42 Best since…
  43. 43. 43 So back to… 1. Surround yourself with good people 2. Attack a growing market 3. Make sure you have unique IP or commercial contacts
  44. 44. 44 And be lucky… Work hard to increase the chances of something lucky happening for you No paralysis, do analysis!
  45. 45. 45 Making clothing for all Tom Adeyoola CEO & Founder @tadeyoola