StartUs Presents: SUITLABS

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Sebastian Signer, founder of SUITLABS, explains why suits are not an old man's uniform and what inspired him to start his own company.

Describe SUITLABS in 50 words or less.

SUITLABS is about modern yet classy business suits. It is dedicated to students and young professionals when it comes to dressing up for their business life. Before starting into their new life we provide to them modern business outfits.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

I have always had the wish to start my own company. Mostly, I guess, because I come from an entrepreneurial minded family. I love creating something new and going my own way. Therefore a career in a huge corporation was never my ideal goal. Even though I started to work in a financial consulting company I quickly knew that that was not my long-term plan. Once I had the idea of my company, I just started working on the idea. There is a lot to take into account, but if you want to start your own company you definitely should do so.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

We provide the classy business outfit for young men. Currently, whenever young men dress up for any occassion such as a nice dinner or a date, only few think a suit is appropriate. But it should be and it is. A lot of young men think of a suit as an old-man’s uniform. Probably partly, because shopping for one is too much focussed on old men. It is time to focus on younger men and showing them the variety a nice suit can offer. You are not supposed to look like you are wearing your father’s jacket when you suit up. A nice suit fits you and the occassion.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

Success is a strong word. In general we differentiate between short-term and long-term success. Short-term success is reaching the financial goals from our business plan and building a stable company. Long-term success is reaching our vision which is, as described, changing young men’s attitude towards the most versatile piece of clothing in a man’s closet: the suit.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

The morning starts with checking correspondence with our supplier and partners. After that I start preparing our showroom. Since our office still is within the showroom during the opening ours I am working in sales most of the day. For important meetings sometimes I just close down the store for an hour or two. In the evening, after hours, I work on product and company planning. Also at night I often go to venues and events for founders and entrepreneurs. For me, that belongs to “office hours” as well.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the service like you imagined it in the beginning?

No, we did not pivot yet and I do not think that a general pivot will be necessary. Of course I am adapting the concept as we improve our understanding of the market and also try to attract additional customers, but that is not a pivot. And also, a pivot is not a bad thing. Quite the contrary, pivoting shows your entrepreneurial spirit.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

We bootstrapped our startup from scratch. We only used our own money to start-up the company. But we are now at a point where we will need to finance with an investor e.g. a business angel. The concept has reached a proof-of-concept-status and for further and more intense growth we will need to use external financing.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

For me the answer to this question is simple as it is short: I keep focussed by doing what I love. I myself love to dress up in a suit. That is also the reason why I came up with the idea of selling business for young professionals. By having an interest in the things you do, I guess that it is easier to keep focussed and to believe in what you do. If you are not as connected to your product it is easier to get distracted and to loose faith in you and your idea.

What do you look for in team members?

A team member should have a strong personality and show loyalty. I guess that I am looking for someone who has similar values and beliefs as I do, but with an expert knowledge in a totally different complementary field. That way we can work together, but still have the faith to question the other one. For me it is very important to trust one another, but still being able to argue with one another.

Why would a talent join your team?

We do believe in our own product and therefore ourselves. That is something that a young talent can learn from us fast. Also our company offers an insight into the consumer retail field, which has the highest revenues. Still a talent would start with having huge responsibilities, such as product development or sales.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

A lot of people expect my most memorable moment to be the opening of our first store, but somehow it was not. Because this was the moment that I have been preparing for and also it was only the starting point. The most memorable point so far was when I closed down the store to go on vacation. Only then all the stress fell from me and I realized what I had created and what I have accomplished. It was a great moment. The music was on full blast and I actually had goose bumps.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

If you have an idea and want to start something up, JUST DO IT. There are a million reasons against a startup, but you only need one reason for it. You will be the one person in charge of it, so you should be certain of it.

And also, do not listen too much to others. There will be a lot of people around you giving you “advice”, but none of these people really know you. So you should only listen to yourself and to people you trust. This rule applies equally to positive and negative comments.

Is there anything else we forgot?

Just don’t forget to suit up!

StartUs Presents: SUITLABS


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