Interview with Juliette Gimenez, CEO of Goxip, the fashion discovery platform.

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Tell us about Goxip. How did you come up with the idea and the name?

Goxip was totally born out of a toilet moment! A moment where entertainment magazine on my left hand and phone on the other, trying to text­search from Google to find the brown cowboy boots that Jessica Alba was wearing so that I could get a pair myself as well. But at the end I found nothing. So I thought to myself – When there’s something that google could not help you with, its time to BUILD!

­ What is your personal background ?

I actually first started as an i­banker doing a lot of market analysis and consultation on asset management. I did that for around 4 years then I decided that I wanted more. I wanted to build and start something that I could impact people around me, something everyone would use on a daily basis. And that was when I joined Ubuyibuy. Ubuyibuy was a group buying platform offering discounts to customers which was later acquired by Groupon. After the acquisition, I stayed at Groupon HK as their VP for building and growing to more verticals outside of Daily Deals, like Travel and Products. It was a ringing moment when we got listed on Nasdaq in 2011. Soon after the IPO, I decided it was time to start a new journey again. So I left Groupon and flied all the way to Bangkok to join Cdiscount Thailand(part of Cnova)­ now the No 4 e­commerce pure­player in the world. Back when I first joined, the company had only a handful of people since they just got into Asia. My responsibility there was to head up the merchandise, marketplace and digital marketing which later I also helped launched the website in Jan 2014. It was really a zero to one experience as we started from nothing to grow into an organisation with more than 110 employees and became the #2 biggest e­commerce site in Thailand. In 2016, Cdiscount Thailand was later sold to Big C for an estimated 70 Million USD and that’s pretty much my story. So here I am now with Goxip again trying to create a better shopping experience for the people.

Tell us about the experience building the platform (how long did it take, did you outsource/build in­house and any learnings to share).

Building a platform is a never ending journey. Actually this should be the case for building anything exceptional. You will always need to test, get feedback and improve your existing product. When we first started, it took us 6 months to build a beta version. This was all done in house with our passionate developers. We created a gossip news platform where people can follow any celebrities, click their photos and shop the outfit they are wearing right away. We had our image recognition function in place but we have so much to work on user experience. Key is to find out whether this product has a fit in the market, whether people want to go shopping when they consume new. It was a great learning path for us to better understand how our users think, behave and care about. After revamping our features and relaunch our closed beta, we were able to reach over 1000 downloads over a week. With this validation, we are confident our shoppable instagram idea will work by continuously building better functionalities and features that make a difference to the users.

Congratulations on being the winner of Rise Breakthrough 2015. Tell us about your experience, how did you get ready ?

Winning Rise Breakthrough 2015 was definitely the best confidence booster for our startup. It shows that people and investors liked our idea and wanted our product. Talking about the experience, I remembered we were still pivoting our idea a week before Rise and our prototype android app just launched the night before. Given the limited time we had, we chose to focus the things that would make a difference which was having the working prototype. It showed people how our idea worked in reality instead of constant explanation.

­ Any tips for startups that want to pitch at the next Rise conference ?

  1. Make a relatable demo – Show your demo in a way that the audience can personally really experience and feel. Don’t just talk practice 100 times.

  2. No one is an awesome speaker/pitcher from the day they born, even Steve Jobs wasn’t. It takes work, lots of work! Share your vision & passion.

  3. Imagine your product is successful and able to make a difference and a better world. Passion is contagious.

­ What were some of your biggest challenges in launching this business?

The opportunities in our market are endless, so our biggest challenge is focus. We have to make sure we are only solving our customers’ most acute problem and not getting distracted elsewhere. We have a lot of ideas and features on how we can improve our product but same as any startups, our challenges are resources and time. That’s why we have to remain in constant communication with our target audience to understand their real needs. This helps us improve the areas or features that matter the most as fast as possible. User experience is not just about a layout, it is the question of are we really focusing on building the things they truly need.

­ What is your most memorable moment so far?

Definitely our Rise moment. Winning the pitching competition out of 100+ startups across South East Asia was a huge milestone of the company. It not only got us $120,000 USD credits from softlayer, and believe me, server is damn important. But more important is that the exposure and confidence we got from the competition. Having seasoned investors interested in investing in getting us off the base and grow faster than we expected. We were able to raise our 1.62 million USD of seed funding quicker than we thought which allowed us to further develop our idea. A year has quickly gone by and I am glad to announce that our website and android application are available out on the market. Closely followed by our iOS version being available on the app store in end of May. So now it’s time for our company to grow viral and test if our idea is something that people wants.

­ What do you think of Hong Kong’s Startup Scene? What is good / What is to improve?

I truly believe there’re a lot of undiscovered masterminds in HK where they were contemplating the idea of leaving a fat corporate job and try to pursue their own dream by starting their own startup. I see nowaday there are more support from the co­working spaces, government and accelerator programmes available in the region. More VCs and investors are putting their money into Hong Kong’s startups with even Alibaba setting up a fund here shows there are top quality and promising startups in this small but impactful city. What Hong Kong needs right now are more successful cases of startups where people can look up to and believe in.

­ What’s next for Goxip?

After raising $1.62 million USD, we have been focusing heavily in developing our website and mobile apps. We have relaunched our website in mid April and launched our latest Android app version right after. Our iOS version of the app will be available on Apple Store soon so now we are marketing like crazy to gain exposure. Our next target is to make our app grow viral across South East Asia to drive app downloads.Growing our user base.

­ What are 3 things you want consumers to remember about your company?

Snap.Shop.Wear. We want them to remember it only takes 3 simple steps to find, buy and wear the favorite apparel that they are looking for.

Want more Goxip? Check out Juliette's TED talk on "Making Impossibility Possible for Entrepreneurs"

Interview by Ludivine Lombard Taverne