Enty is a fledgling tech start-up and fashion platform set up by CEO and Co-Founder, Sophia Matveeva. Figaro Digital spoke with Sophia about the need to create digital and online spaces for women, female entrepreneurship in the big, bad (and male) world of tech, and how a background in comms can be an invaluable advantage in the innovative world of tech start-ups.
FD: Can you explain what Enty is and why the women of 2018 need a space like this?
SM: Enty is a platform where women discuss what to wear and buy with professional stylists and a community. It’s unique because it’s the only troll-free environment online. While everyone can ask style questions and interact with photos, only professional stylists can write comments.
There is a general acceptance that the internet is an unfriendly space, especially for women. Most women have either been trolled themselves or know of someone who has. Big tech, which is a highly male dominated industry, has not put female online safety high up on their agenda, hence the terrible online bullying we see today.
We are proving that companies do not have to sacrifice their users to trolls to reach business metrics like growth and engagement. The MeToo movement is now a year old and women are not accepting the status quo anymore. Our growth is a result of that.
FD: What do you hope to achieve with an app like Enty?
SM: “What shall I wear?” and “Shall I wear this?” are the problems we are solving for the consumer. These problems are repeatable and scalable – everyone around the world needs to choose their outfit at least once a day. Our vision is to be THE place where people go to get feedback, be inspired, and be part of a supportive community, whether they are in Shanghai, London, or New York.
We are building a new way of interacting online and want to show the world that the Internet can be a friendly and fun place for women.
FD: What do you think is driving innovation within the retail market?
SM: Data that provides insight into consumer behaviour is the number one reason new retailers like ASOS have succeeded and incumbents are failing.
Fast fashion has provided consumers an abundance of choice, so retailers who understand why consumers choose one item over another are coming out on top. This also explains why our insight offering has garnered so much interest. We are the only platform that the consumer takes behind the dressing room curtain.
FD: How has your previous career in PR informed and influenced how you have approached the tech start-up world with your B2C tech company?
SM: PR is all about understanding your audiences and creating something that they want. That could be an unusual pitch angle, industry insights, or hosting an event the media would find interesting. It is a job where you have to be focused on other people’s needs rather than your own.
Creating a consumer tech platform uses the same skill set. You have to understand what your target users need and build it for them. The focus remains on other people, not yourself.
FD: As a female co-founder and CEO in a predominantly male industry, what is it that has motivated you to stride forward?
SM: Being different from the majority in an industry is a great competitive advantage because that gives you a different perspective. Since most people who create tech companies and finance them are male, they solve problems that they experience and understand.
That means the markets that are obvious to the majority are very competitive. For example, since most venture capitalists in London have a finance background, fin tech is very heavily funded. More competition means more chance of losses.
I am operating in a market for the digital female consumer, which is far less understood and appreciated by traditional tech investors. This means that fewer companies like mine are getting funded, so I have less competition and more chances of winning the endgame.
It is quite telling that Farfetch – an online luxury fashion retail platform that recently had a very successful IPO – failed to convince Silicon Valley investors of their potential, and had to raise funds elsewhere.
FD: How do you see the way we create technology and market this to women transforming in the coming years?
SM: Communities that put the female experience in their centre are the next big wave in tech innovation. Whether it’s nature or nurture, women do exhibit different behaviours, especially on the internet, where many have had negative experiences.
Technological prowess on its own is not enough to build a successful consumer tech platform for women. An understanding of psychology and female behaviour must be baked into the algorithms for them to be relevant.
We are all operating in an attention starved environment, with new companies being advertised to us all the time. However, products that pay attention to female psychology are flourishing. Peanut (a network for mothers), HER (a gay female dating app), and obviously Enty, are great examples.
FD: Any words of wisdom for your fellow comms professionals just starting out in the big bad world of tech or start-ups?
SM: Comms is a great training school because in order to build anything, you have to be able to persuade people. Hone your pitching and persuasion skills, and read Robert Cialdini’s excellent book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Comms is also the perfect place to build your network because it is the ultimate people business. Go to events, meet interesting people and ask them questions – it’s a great way to learn before diving in to another sector.
Finally, you can learn about tech and start-ups as a side project. While working full time in PR, you can offer your skills and network to tech companies in exchange for them teaching you about what they do. People have done this with us and it has been rewarding for everyone involved.
FD: It is apparent with the increasing prevalence of businesses, platforms, and apps like Enty that there is a huge demand for online and digital spaces for women. This is not only the case in the traditionally ‘female’ sectors of fashion and beauty, but extends to every aspect of life as the need for female-centric digital experiences grows. This self-segmentation by gender for these experiences comes as a significant opportunity for brands and marketeers alike – one that cannot be ignored.
It is clear that Enty – a platform made by women, for women – is part of a much larger trend that started with the likes of dating and networking app Bumble in 2014. Additionally, the trajectory of Enty’s success will be a testament to the significant demand for female-centric digital experience that tech is only just starting to recognise and supply. This success and the app’s initial funding is also a testament to Sophia’s entrepreneurship in the big, bad, and predominantly male world of tech.
So watch this space and if there was ever a bandwagon to jump onto, providing women with adequate and safe online and digital experiences would be a good place to start!