Agile Retail Startup Lesara To Expand To Denmark Reveals CEO Roman Kirsch

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Roman Kirsch founded Casacanda, invested in Amorelie and Wunderdata, and has put his focus on e-commerce startup Lesara. We spoke to him about Agile Retail, the expansion to Denmark and the relevance of data in fashion.

Roman Kirsch is the founder and CEO of Lesara, an online shop for affordable and trend focused products and a pioneer in Agile Retail. Roman founded the company in November 2013, together with CTO Robin Müller and COO Matthias Wilrich, with a vision to revolutionize the retail industry. Roman studied business administration and finance in Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S. and founded Casacanda, the largest design shopping club in Europe, soon after. He eventually sold Casacanda to, and went on to invest in companies such as Amorelie and Wunderdata. Roman is also a member of the World Economic Forum in Davos and featured in Forbes Magazine’s prestigious “30 under 30” list in 2016.

To StartUs Magazine, he spoke about the transformation of the retail industry, the use of data, and the next steps for Lesara:

Roman, how would you describe Lesara in a few words?

Lesara is an international online store for affordable & trendy fashion and lifestyle products and a pioneer in Agile Retail. The e-commerce company takes online retail to the next level. We have successfully improved the model that certain Fast Fashion companies such as Zara and H&M have mastered offline:

Lesara needs just 10 days from spotting a trend to making it available for customers throughout Europe – faster and at a better price than any other fashion and lifestyle company. The product selection is a result of an extensive data-based analysis. A special trend analysis tool developed by Lesara identifies trends as soon as they surface. By passing middlemen and being in direct contact with the best suppliers worldwide, Lesara manages to produce these trends immediately and make them available for everyone. The hottest trends and daily new products ensure an inspiring shopping experience!

Lesara is a pioneer of what you call “Agile Retail”, an approach that uses big data to predict trends and purchase behavior. How did you come up with the process and it what ways does it improve Lesara’s business?

During my travels as CEO of Europe, I saw the huge potential of the Asian market. With the vision of revolutionizing e-commerce and the online retail industry, we established Lesara successfully as a pioneer in Agile Retail. We link suppliers and end consumers through direct sourcing and control of the supply chain. Traditional supply chains with numerous middlemen prove to be time consuming, non-transparent and expensive, which are factors that Lesara bypasses. Through vertical integration, Lesara is able to offer a clear benefit to its end users in every aspect: faster delivery times, high quality products, best price guarantee, fast response times, and great customer service.

The retail industry is undergoing a significant transformation and is expected to rake in global sales of 23.6 trillion Euro by 2020. What technologies do you think will be the main contributors to this process?

The main changes will be focused on reducing friction around delivery and payment. Contactless payment and e-wallet penetration rates are on the rise. Delivery will become more tailored around customer needs with shorter delivery time-windows. In bigger cities you will have more pick-up-points on the way to/from work and e-commerce boxes in lobbies. In rural areas delivery drones and automated deliveries by self-driving cars will be prominent.

On-site we will see a move towards data-based personalization, as well as Artificial Intelligence-based customer communication through chatbots. Another thing that is really interesting to look into is how we can apply Augmented Reality to benefit the retail industry.

Online retail is a highly competitive environment. What makes Lesara stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

What Fast Fashion companies such as Zara and H&M have successfully done offline, we are now taking online to the next level: Agile retail is the fast moving, future kind of shopping and the next inevitable and promising step to a new level of international online retail, which combines the benefits of on- and offline e-commerce and offers customers a unique way of a quicker, faster and better shopping experience.

Inspiring themed events and daily products offer a unique and modern shopping experience – quick, smart and around-the-clock. Agile Retail is about understanding what trends are popular with consumers at this very moment through data and being able to react on it instantly with a seamlessly integrated supply chain.

The Nordics are experiencing rapid growth in terms of e-commerce – one of the reasons you chose Denmark to launch next. What do you expect from this step?

The Danish market is extremely promising due to the Danes’ great interest in trends, fashion and smart shopping. Denmark has a well developed e-commerce market, and the fact that 96% of the population uses the internet makes the Danish market particularly interesting to expand to. E-commerce in Denmark is growing at a rapid rate, with clothing and footwear as the fastest growing segments in the retail industry online. However, local competition in the e-commerce industry is still relatively low, which leads to higher price points in Denmark and customers overpaying. We are changing that.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

We are industry outsiders, so a lot of people across the whole supply chain told us how crazy and impossible our plan and agenda was. This is a common phenomenon in a dusty and rigid industry that tries to defend its privileges rather than innovate and provide better customer experiences. Each day we had a ton of small and large challenges, from setting up the internet in China that would allow us to use google services or skype, to finding the first reliable factories and educating them about how we would collaborate.

Seeing the big picture, our biggest challenges have certainly been establishing the backbone and tech infrastructure to understand customer needs and demands. Additionally, it’s always a challenge hiring the right talent that are motivated, smart and ambitious enough to take on the major players in the industry. We operate as a young company across multiple geographies, with customers in 24 markets, employees from currently 33 countries, and offices across time zones, along with more than 250 team members far away from each other.

Agile Retail Startup Lesara To Expand To Denmark Reveals CEO Roman KirschWhat is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Lesara so far?

To be honest, we are really excited about writing history and creating new memorable moments each day. We are soon moving into a brand new office, which is a great step for us and will allow us to hire more amazing talent to grow the company.

Then, what stands out are our summer parties and annual anniversaries, where we hand out awards to some of our hardest working team members and have a great time together. On top of that, every single feedback that we receive from a happy customer is always a great moment.

If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – what would it be?

The European startup ecosystem could be significantly improved by investing more in great school education around data science, engineering and business. We should be braver about investing in the future, and put more emphasis on innovative technology and on improving internet speed and access, so that everyone benefits. Furthermore, in terms of immigration, we have to make sure that we continue to attract the brightest talents in the world and make it easy to get work permits in Europe.

As a successful serial entrepreneur & angel, what’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

We are a company that has a clear vision on how to disrupt one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world, the one of fast fashion and mass-market apparel. At Lesara, we think big, we do big, and we work fast and efficiently. We don’t compromise when it comes to recruiting and we invest a lot in our company culture. We are data-driven and really double down on IT, where we make sure to get the best people together to build scalable tech-systems to allow the company to thrive.


For more details on innovation in retail check out StartUs Insights’ Breakdown on Startup Driven Innovation in the Retail Industry.


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