Seven years ago Kyle Vucko and his fellow University of Victoria classmate, Heikal Gani, started Indochino, following Heikal’s struggle to find a suit he both liked and could afford. They found that menswear was often relegated to the back of stores and offered limited options, providing either a terrible fit or a price point they could not afford.
Finding Support and Resources
They put their studies on hold and with the help of the mentorship program at the University of Victoria, they were introduced to local angel investors and started building their business plan. With full access to the university’s library and resources, Kyle and Heikal researched their market and business model, creating a solid foundation from which to start their business. It’s a position that Kyle advises all new entrepreneurs to start from. “Be clear on the type of business you want to create as there are different paths to success,” he comments. “Are you looking to build a start-up or a lifestyle business? Do you want a venture-backed company or a wholly owned mid-sized company?” Knowing the answers to those questions will help you keep true to the business you envisioned.
Creating Something Unique
They started Indochino in 2007 and started to reinvent the way men shop and dress. It was the first of its kind, helping men design one-of-a-kind wardrobes of custom suits and shirts online made just for them. Since opening, they have served over 120,000 customers across 130 countries.
“I didn’t set out to build an E-commerce company,” Kyle explains. “I set out to help guys get dressed.” This focus has meant that they have kept the customer in the centre of their business model using innovative technology to provide a great online experience.
Customer Focus Helping Future Plans
It is their focus and understanding of their customers, which caused the business model to expand in 2011; moving offline to open retail stores for customers who prefer a one-on-one service. They started with their first four-day pop-up store in 2011 on Georgia Street in Vancouver. They then opened five more pop-up stores in 2012 and 12 in 2013. In 2014, focusing on their goal to be there whenever a guy needed help getting dressed, they evolved their retail strategy from short-term pop-up events to a longer-term store model. They have opened a showroom in Toronto and another in East Vancouver, with one in New York opening this month. The plan is to replicate their success in other major cities such as Calgary, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco in the future.
The stores offer their customers an opportunity to book appointments to be measured and receive style advice, as well as touch and see the products that are available on their online store. This has opened their target market up to a new generation of customers.
The size and speed of their growth is a lot to take in. Kyle puts part of their success down to recruiting top talent across the globe to help them create the business they have today. The pair now have over a hundred employees in their Vancouver and Shanghai headquarters in addition to their new storefront teams. Kyle believes that it’s his ability to motivate and rally behind his vision that is one of his greatest strengths as an entrepreneur. Explaining that to “know what your passion is will help you succeed.”
Evolving the Business and Yourself
When asked who inspires him, Kyle says, “I am inspired by a lot of smart people in different ways. From the recognizable global leaders to those closer to home, like my father, and local angel investors who’ve helped me grow into the person I am today.”
It’s listening to those mentors closer to home that he sees as his biggest life lesson in business. “There are very few unique successes and failures,” he observes. “Most things you encounter in business have happened to others before and being able to capitalize on these experiences is key.” He believes that being an entrepreneur is about continually learning and growing. It is one of the things that drew him into starting his business. “You’re always evolving, both as a company and as a person,” he describes. “When you lead a company, it becomes a reflection of who you are and vice versa.”