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How I Started Something Borrowed NY Without A Technical Co-Founder (And Why I Want One Now)

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By Brittany Haas (Co-Founder, Something Borrowed NY)

It all started with four sisters. Being the youngest, I watched my older sisters struggle with buying a dress that cost them more than one month’s rent. Beyond the heartbreak of spending that much on one item, it can only be worn once, and you need to find space to store it in your 400 sq ft apartment.

Hence Something Borrowed NY was born. We wanted to rent designer bridal gowns from a store in NYC to brides like us; ones who loved high fashion, hated the price tag, and didn’t value the possession of a one-time wear item.

I recruited a college friend of mine who was in the bridal industry to tackle the project with me. We contacted designers, boutique owners, gown preservationists, entrepreneurs, investors, VCs, angels…everyone! We had the 40 page business plan, a financial plan, and designers ready to sell.

The only thing we were missing was investment. Owning a store in Manhattan with multiple sizes of wedding gowns is a costly venture. As we approached VCs and angels back in the beginning of 2011, they were only focused on one word: Traction.

I understood their point. Show “proof of concept” using the least viable product — the lean startup method. No one was interested in brick and mortar, only internet based businesses. So, we pivoted.

The website for SomethingBorrowedNY was launched and rented bridal ACCESSORIES to brides all over the country (and the UK) for their wedding day. Although women don’t necessarily value the possession of their gown, we believe they still value the experience of finding “the dress” with their friends and family in a boutique setting. Focusing on accessories allowed us to still help brides save money, while still letting them have their traditional gown experience. The site launched with press from Martha Stewart Weddings, Bride Finds, and Refinery29.com. Yet, things were about to get harder.

My co-founder was offered an irresistible job. I was so excited for her and we’re still best friends today, but I was now left running the company on my own, while still holding a full-time job of my own. My day job keeps me busy from 9-7, and my nights are filled with networking events or working non-stop on the website, blog and logistics. I hired interns to help with social media, but the intricacies of running a business while holding a full-time job are starting to tire me out!

Thankfully, our site was launched on the platform Shopify which allows me to easily update new product to the site and use basic HTML to edit the page aesthetically. However, I’m starting to realize there ARE certain website developments that I cannot code myself.

Here are the reasons why I’m considering finding a technical co-founder:

  • Investors don’t invest in people — they invest in TEAMS: I’m eager to join an incubator, or to begin fundraising again now that we have the traction we need. However, without a management team to back me up, I’ll never be able to associate with those types of crowds.
  • I don’t have the money to hire anyone: It would be easy for me to contract a developer, a designer, a PR firm etc. to help take Something Borrowed NY to the next level, but it would require a LOT of extra money. As successful as we’ve been, we don’t have the capital to hire the team we need.
  • It takes a lot of pressure off: It’s hard to do it all on your own! My “ex-founder” and I had a perfect “yin and yang” of playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Plus it’s easier to craft an argument or prove your case when you have the assistance of others. Yet, connecting with a co-founder is an emotional relationship. It’s finding that “special someone” who you can trust to own a part of your business! That’s something that can only come with time and doesn’t usually happen with a stranger.

As of now, it’s a one-woman operation. But I know that the key to success is delegating those skills that you’re not proficient in, to others. I’m looking for people who are passionate about the concept and have the tenacity that a start-up requires. If you’re looking to become a part of our team, or know anyone who may be interested, please feel free to reach out to [email protected].

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Brittany Haas is Co-Founder of Something Borrowed NY. Always drawing and designing, she graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Fiber Science & Apparel Design. Upon graduation she decided to learn the business side of the fashion industry. Since then, she’s gained experience as a financial planner for several top Fashion houses, and now brings her business savvy to the bridal industry. Follow her on Twitter at @brittanyhaas.

  • http://www.whimseybox.com alicia

    It is hard to do it on your own. Have you had any success attending a startup weekend or meetup group? Good luck + hang in there!

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  • http://facebook.com/sharemore1 Erica Etelson

    If you can raise some money, there’s a group out of Canada called Startupify (startupify.me) that places a technical co-founder in your business and together you spend 6 mos iterating your product. I’m about to start working them (as soon as I raise the money) and they seem really good.

  • http://www.SIMPLIFYAnalytics.com Alison

    Finding the right technical co-founder is like finding the right life partner. I wish there was a Lavalife/Match.com service for co-founders! I found my husband 9 years ago on lavalife but now I’m having trouble finding the right technical co-founder and the co-founder “dating” process is lengthly and complicated. So I’m putting the word out there that I’m looking.

    So if you’re reading this right now and are or know of someone with a technical background and entrepreneurial spirit, check out http://www.SIMPLIFYAnalytics.com for a quick overview of the business and get in touch. This would be the perfect opportunity for a new mom looking to jump into the entrepreneurial pool with me!

    Good luck with your search Brittany and thanks for the post. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone!

  • http://www.eteamups.com Linsey

    Brittany, I know how frustrating it can be finding your ideal co-founder! I too searched endlessly for ‘the one’, and to solve the problem, I created http://www.eteamups.com that algorithmically matches professionals based on past experience (i.e. do they have the skills required to do the job), future ambition (i.e. do they want to co-found a business like yours) and work style (i.e. is there likely to be the right professional chemistry between you). It is based on the latest organizational psychology regarding the profiles of ideal team matches. We are in private beta with Stanford now, but we will be launching within other communities soon. If you are interested in finding your ideal co-founder through eTeamUps I will get you on the list. :)
    GOOD LUCK!!

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