A talk with Kate Endress founder of DITTO, the 3D technology that allows you to virtually try on eye-wear from the comfort of your home.
Kate Endress is the founder of DITTO, a 3D technology that allows you to virtually try on eyewear. Kate and her new startup have been featured on both Marshable and Techcrunch and today, Kate is sharing her startup story, as well as a few entrepreneurship advice for new entrepreneurs.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company and how it all started.
Kate Endress: DITTO is an online retailer selling a wide collection of the top designer glasses and sunglasses. Based in San Francisco, DITTO uses patent-pending technology to let shoppers create a DITTO, a 3D virtual self, from video footage from their webcam. Shoppers can use their DITTO to virtually try on glasses to see how they fit in 180-degree views before they buy them from the site. Customers can also share their DITTO to get feedback from friends or ask a DITTO stylist for a personalized recommendation.
Q: How do you separate yourself from your competitors, what makes you better?
Kate Endress: There are three key differentiators between our competitors and us:
1) Our innovative, interactive 3D video try-on technology lets customers see if the glasses actually fit them before they buy. Our competitors use 2D pictures that don’t scale the glasses properly and aren’t interactive.
2) In addition to big mainstream brands, we well trendy designers, like Illesteva and Westward Leaning, that aren’t sold on other sites.
3) Our sleek, well-designed website has already won 10 design awards and makes searching for glasses fun and easy.
Q: How many people are currently using this platform and how do you plan to keep growing?
Kate Endress So far, over 50,000 have created DITTOs. It’s so exciting to see that people are using (and loving) what we’ve built! I get emails every day from customers that we really helped solve a problem for them. I email them back asking for feedback, features they would have liked to see, and asking about which other brands they wish we’d start selling. This feedback is helping me layout a growth plan for the future.
Q: Please share a few business tips and advice for first time entrepreneurs.
Kate Endress Do your homework and listen to your prospective customers before you start. I spent countless hours watching and listening to people buying glasses in retail stores or optometrist offices. I gained an understanding the existing pain points, garnered insights which have led to some of our coolest features, and developed a deep inner confidence that we were solving a problem that mattered which came into play when things got tough later.
Q: What was the best entrepreneurial advice you have ever been given?
Kate Endress: “ It’s a marathon, not a sprint.“ It often times takes years to vet an idea and get it off the ground. Starting a company requires an inhumane amount of hours and you are often so excited about it, you’d rather work on it than do other things. But months and months of grueling hours becomes counterproductive and founders fatigue is real. Take care of yourself by getting 8 hours of sleep per night and working out regularly. Take days off when you need it. Take at least at full week off once a year. I realize now this makes us all better.
Q: Starting out what was the worst mistake you made as an entrepreneur, and what did you learn from it?
Kate Endress: The worse mistake I made was underestimating how long it would take to build real technology. I must have heard this a thousand times at business school but I figured that my company would be different. I sat alongside my engineer team and put together a “conservative” game plan for product development. We ended up being 6 months behind schedule and I spend money scaling up other parts of our business before we needed to which wasted precious dollars. Tough lesson learned.
Q: What is your definition of success?
Kate Endress: To me, success is about being competent and hard working enough to be respected, passionate enough to inspire our team, our vendors, and our customers, and smart enough to build a team of people that is even smarter. The last two years that I’ve been working on DITTO have been an incredible learning opportunity for me and the road to greatness is still ahead. But I’m motivated to keep striving. I love reading books about great leaders and seek out advice and feedback of how I can be better. I hope I look back in a few years and smile knowing I’ve led DITTO with purpose and passion. Now that’s success.
Q: How can our community get in touch with you?
Kate Endress: Feel free to follow me on Twitter @KateEndress or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.