• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

Making It Happen With Mass Customization (Citizen Made)

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Citizen Made is one of the 10 startups pitching onstage at PITCH NYC Conference & Competitionget your $300 conference pass to join hundreds of men and women on November 14.

By Bryn McCoy (Co-Founder & CTO, Citizen Made)

Citizen Made sprang to life with such ease and zest, there was simply no denying it. In spring of 2011, our founding team met at at a Chicago fashion show. We were completely inspired and excited about all the innovative upcycling, mixing and matching abound.

With backgrounds in fashion and technology, our worlds collided. We instantly began a conversation about custom wares of all sorts. Fireworks.

More pointed conversations ensued, at first for online customization with my cofounder’s men’s apparel line. And then, for mass customization overall. We began to notice features here and there about bespoke product – customized online, distributed manufacturing, made to order for people in the know. Happening in big brands, sprouting up in small brands… we reminded ourselves to think bigger.

We charted our course to get a demo together and to meet the makers who could put our product to the test. We began in earnest. We continue to iterate through ideas – product – people, always trying to balance the refined and the robust. We endlessly have such potent ideation conversations – then the ongoing challenges center around the patience and perseverance required to create something meaningful whether or not ardor is the driving force du jour.

We’ve kept our focus on software lean enough to roll out iterations within two month dev cycles. Long days to say the least, however, the pressure of deadlines really seems to spur us on, our sprints pay off, often in unexpected ways.

Given the novelty of our niche, it has been imperative that we find the right people as we grow our team. The faster the pace of our business development, the more we’ve wanted to simply pull our peers onboard for support at times. Again, patience has been key. We’ve begun work with a team talented designers, developers and marketing mavens who truly share our vision from experience, both personal and professional.

Our team affinity allows us to focus keenly on development of Citizen Made as a brand, beyond the product.

Being that our product is built by makers for makers, we leverage a lot of instinct about our decisions. We also enjoy getting to know the business communities of our customers. This keeps us quite close to our product and our people, and perhaps most importantly, it keeps us grounded.

Mass customization is a lofty revolution.

It takes a minute to understand the greater implications of how this will change our lives, reinvent our world. As consumers are becoming more discerning, manufacturing becomes more capable and robotics grow more intelligent. Citizen Made integrates user experience, consumer education and design inspiration to build critical mass around customization.

Not everyone shares in the ‘aha’ moment as we talk about what we do, but time and time again, we meet business owners whose eyes light up as they grasp the impact our software will have in their market. That’s what we’re celebrating.

Women 2.0 readers: Joining us on November 14 for PITCH NYC Conference & Competition to watch Citizen Made pitch? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Bryn McCoy is co-founder and CTO of Citizen Made. A software engineer and graphic designer, she is the epitome of a maker. Whether it’s innovative software for the likes of IDEO and BMW, illustration and animation for lovable brand identity, art projects with her young children, or VJ gigs with Chicago’s indie bands, there is never a moment when Bryn isn’t working with ideas and artifacts, or found sketching with a notebook in tow. Follow her on Twitter at @brynmccoy.