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“We have just expanded to Spain and Italy”: Interview with Martin Zapart, co-founder of YOUTAILOR

Today we interviewed Martin Zapart, the founder and Managing Director of YOUTAILOR (Update – December 2022: The website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link).

YOUTAILOR was founded in Vienna in late 2008. It’s one of the leading online shops for custom made shirts, custom made blouses, and custom suits.

When did you have the idea for YOUTAYLOR and what made you sure it was the right one?

Back in 2003, I wrote a business plan for a class at university which was the birth of the YOUTAILOR business model. This plan was also the winner of a business plan competition. That made us confident to start it one day.

After working as consultant and graduating from Business School me and my partners founded a fashion store concept, which produced and sold shirts and also custom made shirts. After this company expanded very fast we decided to sell it, and the time was finally right to start the online business which we named YOUTAILOR. That was end of 2008.

How did you finance the startup-phase of YOUTAYLOR and what were the main stumbling blocks of the first year?

The first investments were financed by us. After a while we applied for a government supported loan. We quickly realized that a higher amount of money was needed to grow this business. So we decided to hold our first VC round. We had around four good offers where we picked the best package. Six months later we already had our 2nd VC round. Financing was never an issue.

Looking back, what would you do differently in the startup-stage?

There were many lessons learned and many minor things I would have done differently. But maybe I would have chosen a more moderate growth plan because the speed of our growth caused some serious problems.

What makes YOUTAYLOR unique , or better than other online shops for custom made fashion out there?

We try to make things better than our competitors. It starts with the service, the product quality, the delivery speed, the usability of our website and the product range. Our key to success is the high quality and the low risk for the customer, because of our unique offer the satisfaction guarantee. What clearly separates us from our competitors is that we didn’t start a website and looked for suppliers, but we were manufacturers of custom clothes first and then built a website as a distribution channel.

Have you any plans to enter additional markets within or outside the EU in 2011?

We have just expanded to Spain and Italy, and in 2011 we will focus on the EU market. But we are also looking very closely at the US market.

How many people are working for YOUTAYLOR right now and how do you support the corporate culture?

There are almost 100 people on our payroll. That is a lot for such a young startup. This amount of people need a structured organization and leadership. But I’m glad that we have not lost our start up charm and family-like relations within the company.

What would you do for a living, if you had not started YOUTAYLOR?

I’m sure I would have started another business, but rather not an online one.

What is your experience of Vienna as a location to start up a company?

After we started our business in Vienna we quickly realized that Vienna has limited resources and infrastructure for fast growing online businesses. That’s why
we moved to Berlin end of 2009 and grew from a few people to around 100 within 12
months. I don’t know if this would be possible in Vienna.

Find this interesting? Check out our other interviews with top founders here.

Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).

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