She recently braved the investors in BBC’s Dragons’ Den and pitched for backing into her online styling company Dappad. Despite leaving the TV show empty-handed, founder Erika Nilsson-Humphrey told the LINK that the appearance on the show increased the number of customers by 50 percent in just one month and has put the company in a strong position to raise further investment.
Dappad is an online styling service for men, how was the idea of Dappad born?
After failing to get a good wardrobe put together for my husband and too many failed attempts to department stores! I then realised that I was surrounded by many versions of my husband, men who just want somebody to take care of their shopping so that they can step out looking amazing with zero effort.
Tell us a bit about your recent experience with the TV show Dragon’s Den where you asked for £75,000 in exchange for 7.5 percent of your company.
It’s obviously a pressured situation. With normal investor meetings you can get tough questions but on the show it’s more of a dialogue and they are meant to be mean to make good TV, but I was prepared for that. The edit was a bit harsh actually. They said quite nice things too that the BBC cut away. But the PR since has been amazing - in just one month we have gone from 2,000 on our mailing list (gathered over two years) to 3,500, and we have gone from 200 active customers to 300. People have been super happy with our service.
Describe the journey of Dappad from being founded to where it is today?
I graduated from Uppsala University with a degree in Economics and then I worked in the City of London in finance. I started working on the idea of Dappad at the beginning of 2014, just as I fell pregnant with my first child. However, in February 2015 our site was live and we secured our first external financing in September 2015. But, in May of that year I found out that I had breast cancer so I had to go through six months of chemotherapy, then surgery and radiation so it was a tough time. In 2016 as my treatments came to a finish I started getting my energy back for Dappad. We then got approached by the BBC and Dragons’ Den and this show has really transformed our business and I hope it will keep up. We are now in a strong position to raise further finance which we intend to do.
Along the way, what have the challenges been?
Apart from my personal circumstances, it’s often felt quite lonely. But now I have a partner which I’m so happy about. Estimating stock inventory and knowing where to spend your marketing money has always been tricky. Getting the right tone of our brand took three attempts as well.
What have the best parts been?
When our clients email back and are happy with the pieces we sent them. It makes me so happy to help these men. I love fashion so putting together beautiful outfits is a real pleasure.
What is your future goal with the company?
That we will become one of the biggest personal shoppers in Europe. Famous for Scandinavian understated style and the highest quality. But also for being a sustainable and environmentally conscious company. I’m very environmentally conscious myself and I want to bring this in to Dappad more. We have for example brought in clothing carrying the Nordic ecolabel “Svanen”. I also want to bring in more vegan-friendly clothing as that is a major trend in society and I’m vegan myself.
Any advice for someone who wants to start up their own company?
Get a partner from the start because it was hard to do everything by yourself.And be patient. Do a business course before you start. I would probably have avoided a few mistakes if I had taken one. Trust your instinct. Don’t be something for everyone but something very good for a few select.