My name is Marin Gerov, co-founder of DULO. We make non-iron dress shirts from performance fabrics that save time and provide peace of mind. Every DULO shirt is wrinkle-resistant so you can forget about creases and ironing, 4-way stretch for supreme comfort and unconstricted movement, antibacterial to prevent the accumulation of bacteria and smells, machine-washable so you don’t have to worry about washing and dry cleaning.
On average we are generating around €1000/month. DULO started on 1st September 2016 when the idea was born. We spent one year in product development, testing with real people and going over 70 dress shirts before we opened our store. On 1st November we opened our virtual doors with our first “Origins ” collection.
We are based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, but the company is registered in Bulgaria, where we are originally from. Bulgaria is also where we manufacture the shirts. At this stage, it is only 2 – my co-founder and I.
During the launch phase, did you maintain a full-time job? (or even currently)
Simple. By allocating the rest of our free time for work related to DULO. We practice a lot of discipline and try to stick to a routine and plan that helps us to prioritise important work and execute effectively. Basically, every morning, evening and weekend is dedicated on building and growing the DULO brand.
How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?
From the start, we have been documenting the journey of building the business. We are using blogging, vlogging, and podcasting as the media through which we communicate our process, milestones, and decision making.
This allowed us to connect with a like-minded group of entrepreneurs who are also busy building a legacy. The message and content we have been putting out strongly resonated with this group and resulted in most of them becoming our first customers. What is more important though is that this allows us to connect on a much deeper and personal level with every customer, turning them into brand advocates.
What software/platforms/tools have you utilized since launch?
Shopify is the biggest one because our webshop runs on it. In addition, we have been using MailChimp to handle all customer emailing and set promotional drip campaigns. Sumo.com is something we are trying right now to help us in the collection of emails.
On the payments side, we use Paypal, iDeal, and Transferwise. Our live chat functionality is powered by Drift. For analytics, we rely on the Shopify analytics, Google Analytics, and Hotjar for screen recordings and heatmaps.
Which have worked/not worked?
All of those tools work well together and have relatively easy to setup integrations. We used the Facebook Messenger chat plugin for a bit, but the lack of customisation was limiting us.
How did you fund your startup and how do you make money/revenue?
We are self-funded. We decided to bootstrap the business by pulling together our own savings and keep 100% control of the company. Our revenue is generated from the sales we make.
At this point in time, we are still putting everything we earn back into the business. We still have day jobs as programmers that earn us the salary and pay the bills.
To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company? What have you done to overcome them?
The biggest challenge for us, and it is still ongoing, is to nail the brand. We know what we want to say, we have a product we stand 110% behind that customer’s love, and our strategy to be open about our process has worked amazingly well. But we still find it hard to formulate clearly our voice. From what I gather from other, more experienced entrepreneurs, this is not such an uncommon challenge and it just takes time to figure out.
Being small and nimble, plus our aversion to chasing perfection is our best asset to overcome this challenge. We are tenaciously trying new things all the time and testing what resonates best with our audience. We just keep iterating all the time and listen for the reactions.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? What would you do differently?
I would do it again, absolutely. The opportunity which entrepreneurship provides to be in control of my own time and live and work on my own terms is something that is worth every beating and setback that happen along the journey.
Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently, because everything has taught me an invaluable lesson. The mistakes I find especially valuable.
If I can give one piece of advice to fellow entrepreneurs who want to start an apparel company is to start thinking and building the brand from the start. Building a product is a very involved process and it should take all your attention, but be mindful that you have to get people excited about what you are doing from the very beginning.
Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about your company… where do we send them?
If you want to get in touch you can find me on twitter @maringerov. If you want to learn more about DULO and start saving time for the things that matter, go to weardulo.com