I received the Startup Foundation Individual Grant in Q1 2023.

It feels like an eternity since then. I don’t even recognize the first iterations of my then-product.

Back then, I had a personal problem of used and vintage clothing being hard to find. This was the case especially for men. As I was constantly trying to find problems to solve with technology, this felt like a perfect problem.

  1. it was personal, I knew the problem
  2. had a moderate to high frequency with potential users
  3. existing market was a mess.

I applied for the foundation grant to gain focus back from my consulting gigs. Consulting was undoubtedly fun and I liked the people I worked with, but my learning curve had completely stalled. After receiving the grant, I was able to focus on building the solution full time.

So I built an aggregator for existing marketplaces! This was hacked together with a website builder, embedded Typeform and a MailChimp template that I had filled with results from relevant sources. These sources could be general marketplaces like eBay, or category-specific marketplaces and recommerce retailers (which have absolutely boomed since the setting of this story btw!). I had a half-automated list of them that I could run pretty quickly.

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I’m really proud how quickly I got to the validation phase with this manual solution. The product was called Loopd, and I started distributing it through friends, friends of friends and relevant communities.

Then the challenges started. I had around 60 to 80 cumulative unique users, but none of them seemed to stick. The feedback was always indifferent and boring. Nobody hated the product, but I started to suspect it didn’t solve their problem. Or my hypothesis of the problem was all wrong. Monetization was out of the question.

Having an additional service on top of the questionable marketplaces and outlets started to feel wrong. Having inventory and thousands of unique SKUs (based on vintage, condition, brand etc.) was out of the question because of its capital intensive nature. This is something even huge e-commerce players are struggling with.

A site by Joose Toiviainen