This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the fifteen student startups who are participating in our Terp Startup summer accelerator at the College Park WeWork. Participating student entrepreneurs received a stipend up to $5,000 that would enable them to work exclusively on their startups over eight weeks in the summer.
Co-Founder & CEO: Thomas Savransky ’20, Finance major
Co-Founder & CTO: Igor Savchenko ’20, Computer Science major at UMBC
DC: Tell us about your startup. What problem are you solving and for whom?
Savransky: Over the past two years we’ve been developing ENLY, an app that allows shoppers to try on and purchase designer clothing in a virtual marketplace. You take a selfie, input a few basic measurements, and we render a 3D avatar with your face and body! Then you shop like you would on any other website, but when you see something you like – try it on, ask your friends about it, get in touch with designers. We’re doing this because we want to give shoppers a virtual “in-store” experience. By enhancing the connection between online shoppers, designers, and clothes we’re going to reduce returns and the waste that comes with return shipping. In an industry where ecommerce return rates are as high as 50%, we believe that letting shoppers see their style and fit before ordering will substantially reduce the costs to shoppers, designers, and the environment.
DC: How did you first come up with your idea?
Savransky: I was in my second semester of sophomore year and I had just taken Dr. Wellman’s “How Do Innovators Think?” I remember at the time a few of my friends were interested in clothing and design. I’m not a very artistic person, but the class got me thinking about entrepreneurship as a career path. After hearing about clothing so much I started considering my own buying habits, and how I shopped in-store even though I’d much rather buy online. So I went to a few different people and asked them if something like ENLY was technically possible. “Can it be coded?” “Probably” “Is there a need? Would designers use it?” “Yeah, from the conversations I’ve had.” “Would investors consider it? “If you got it off the ground.” Ever since then I’ve been putting it together with Igor and our team.
DC: What are some major milestones you’ve achieved so far?
Savvy Tech: Over the past two years we went from having an idea to building a team with 18 people. Our biggest achievements have been structuring our team into different working groups, 3D Development, Front-End, Research, and putting together our minimum viable product. We’re also en-route to presenting our tech at a show in New York Fashion Week this fall. More on that later!
DC: What drives you to keep going?
Savvy Tech: We believe this idea has the potential to change the world. After going to fashion shows, speaking with designers, and getting to know shoppers we see a real need for ENLY. Imagine the “in-store” experience everywhere. Imagine being able to try on any clothing from any designer in the world and knowing if it’ll fit you. Ecommerce return rates could go from 50% to the 10% rate we see in-stores. Businesses would save money, shoppers would save time, and the environment would spare some carbon!
DC: How do you feel about working in a cohort with fellow student entrepreneurs?
Savvy Tech: Igor and I are both really excited. We’ve been in the Startup Shell but until now we’ve never been in a situation where we’re working so closely with other groups. I think getting a chance to work around so many people with the same drive and motivation is really going to boost our progress. I have a great appreciation for how committed and willing to engage everyone has been. Definitely a huge difference from my class experiences where at times I’ve been the only entrepreneur in the room.
DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup this summer?
Savvy Tech: Our three main goals are structuring our business, finishing our pitch and our financials, and getting ready for a live fashion show demo in the fall! We’ve got a lot of moving pieces and we definitely have more to work on, but we want to make sure our business has the right legal framework and the right advisors going forward. By the end of the summer, we want to be ready to demo our product and we want to be ready to raise capital. We’re taking this summer and our time in Terp Startup as an opportunity to take our business to the next level.