Elevator Pitch: Institchu

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Robin McGowan from Institchu.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

InStitchu is an online tailoring service, with a built-in customisation platform, enabling men to design and purchase made-to-measure suits.

InStitchu was born when my co-founder James Wakefield and I realised that a huge number of men were wearing ill-fitting suits. We realised that the cost of getting a made-to-measure suit was hugely prohibitive so men were instead opting for off-the-rack suits. But once they'd purchased their suit, they generally lacked the time and money to have them properly altered.

When a friend came back from Asia with an awesome tailored suit that he'd spent nothing on, we realised there was a business in this. Not only was there a market for quality, fitted suits, but if we kept the business predominantly online, we could create huge savings for our customers.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We're very lucky that our business model enabled us to be cashflow positive from day one. We carry very little inventory, as we are predominantly a made-to-order business. Because of this, we were able to bootstrap the business from savings, so there wasn't a lot of initial risk when it came to financing our idea.

At this stage, our growth has been largely due to the referrals and word-of-mouth from our existing customers, so we've continued to encourage social interaction to leverage this.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

There's a huge number of men out there who still don't realise they can purchase a tailor made suit online, and for those who do, the challenge is building their confidence in the system.

Most people still think they need to be measured up in person, but this is definitely not the case. It's actually really easy to measure yourself, or have someone else do it. While we do have a showroom where we can measure customers, the process is so much easier when they have the confidence to do it themselves — from the comfort of their own living rooms.

To help this along, we created a series of videos showing people how to correctly measure themselves. We also use videos to educate them on suit styles and trends to build their confidence.

To instil further confidence, we created the InStitchu Perfect Fit Guarantee. If customers are not 100 percent happy with their suit, we will remake, or resize it — entirely free of cost.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

A large part of the reason for starting up InStitchu came down to our own suit shopping experiences. We wanted to reduce the frustration, stress and cost of suit shopping. We were fixated on creating the stress-free, easy experience that we couldn't find on the market.

We're totally dedicated to our customer service. We communicate quickly, and simply — in terms that are understood — with all of our customers, ensuring that they receive all the attention that they need, and more.

We listen to their feedback, take it on board and learn from this as a way to improve our product, and the overall experience. This has led us to offer more design options than many of our competitors.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Dropbox — our entire team use Dropbox so that everyone can access files and documents anywhere at any time. In fact, our entire business is stored in the cloud. We can literally jump on any computer, anywhere in the world and access every program and file that our business uses.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity.

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