Be it an artist or writer, there’s no harm in scouring the internet high and low for various sources of inspiration can help bolster one’s creativity in the medium. Red Bermejo, Ron Agapito, Mariel Jolloso and Paul Harris takes that concept further and apply it to fashion with a mix-and-match dress-up web app called Arena, under the company name Matchdrobe.
The Philippines-based company’s app effortlessly scroll through fashion outfit comparisons; users then get inspired to wear different ensembles from the app’s searching of copious amounts of references and pictures. Users can also earn in-app Style points and win prizes through brands they rate highly and consistently look up to.
Matchdrobe is one of our early sign-ups for Echelon 2014, THE final word on startup and entrepreneur gatherings in all of Asia. e27 had a quick chat with the Founder, otherwise known as “The Head Dude” Raymund Bermejo, about how the company found its legs.
Tell us a bit more about Matchdrobe.
Matchdrobe was born circa April 2013. Myself along with Ron Agapito (the developer), Mariel Jolloso (the designer), and Paul Harris (paid for rent and bills) co-founded the company.
Penniless but with grand ideas for the future, everyone worked on the startup as a part-time gig. Ron and Mariel freelanced for contractual work in the day. I came up with concepts, demos, pitches around Manila to get feedback in my spare time during my student days.
Matchdrobe was originally envisioned as an all-around style web app – with a digital wardrobe, advice page, Polyvore-like mood boards, etc. Our entire vision is to understand personal style by pooling data from an ecosystem of addictively-designed style apps.
Sounds like quite a huge undertaking…
By August 2013, it was hard to compete with Polyvore and there wasn’t much user traction from the beta app. So, this setback pushed us to think of other ideas to build on. By then, I had the idea of combining the addictiveness of content collection, the enjoyment of speed dating apps, and insights on our internal habit of comparing things when we browse fashion.
The app pivoted to a fashion ‘hot or not’ tool. From what we’ve gathered, comparative data in fashion by individuals and aggregates is much more valuable than aggregate social media mentions and ‘likes’ if you really want to understand what your customers want.
So what happened next?
The next question was ‘how do we create a really addictive product to do this?’ As a result, we created Arena, where we had different apparels and accessories from different brands compete against one another. We received some seed funding at the end of October 2013 from Paul Harris. We went full-time on the product as a result.
By December, we hired Jose Soriano as the app’s Data Engineer, being the point guy for intense data experience and AI for the fashion intelligence back-end. Ave-Adena Amor, a fashion blogger and owner of her own indie fashion label became our Marketing Executive, rebranding Matchdrobe as a company that creates fashion apps. Around January, we found out that people are more engaged when playing with real photos of real people. We modified the product to focus on photos with actual people expressing their own styles; this method received a positive response.
Let’s hear about all the moments that led up to Echelon for this year.
It was at this point that the Hong Kong Echelon Satellite event was going to start soon. We’re looking to start testing the product concept sentiment for target base markets in Hong Kong; all the international brands are there. It was superbly well-received.
Currently, Matchdrobe is in the process of gathering its first 10 independent fashion labels. Our partners can use the data for fashion intelligence as well as use the app to upload content and sell their wares. Our company also has four photography interns who continuously collect fresh street content as well.
How’s the Arena app coming along?
Matchdrobe has openly launched its Android version 1.0 app last week, reaching a 100 user mark. Matchdrobe has been continuously gathering feedback from its first users; we’re now preparing to launch a version 2.0 with a revamp in design and a more awesome experience in discovering styles.
As Echelon 2014 in Singapore nears, we’re launching Arena version 2.0 to take the world by storm.
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.