Fashion Ghost wins Auckland Startup Weekend, sets sights on Global Startup Battle
The idea for the app is the brainchild of Iran-born Kiwi architectural designer Mahnoosh Dordahan.
“Fashion Ghost is like carrying round a stylist in your pocket,” she says. “When you’re stood in front of the mirror at home, or in a shopping mall too afraid to ask the shopping assistant [for advice], it’s hard to get the second opinion you need on an outfit choice quickly.”
The app lets users upload two photos of their possible outfit choices, adding a caption and filters to provide context to the outfit. Once the image is uploaded, users can vote on the outfit they like the best.
Dordahan bought together a diverse team – Haroun Barazanchi, Erica Dawson, David Tan, Ben Gao, Shu Sin, Sunil Kumar Reddy and Wenchong Huang – with backgrounds in everything from design to programming and business to compete in the event against ten other teams.
“Luckily, I found a good team of people – eight of us – and we immediately started work on the idea”, says Dordahan.
The group validated the idea during the Auckland Startup Weekend, interviewing 120 people and gaging their reaction.
“Luckily for us, the validation results were really positive and really strong,” says Dordahan, “and that was a part of what the judges liked about it.”
Like it they did, awarding the team first prize and bragging rights at the end of the weekend, and suggesting that the team look at taking the idea to a bigger stage.
“It was just amazing,” says Dordahan. “It was the happiest moment of my life. It’s just crazy. But it’s not really about the prizes. The real benefit is that we’ve now got an opportunity to take part in the Global Startup Battle.”
“The judges at Auckland Startup Weekend asked us to go for the Global Battle,” she says. “They came to us and said ‘We really think you should do this. There’s a lot of potential for this.’”
The Global Startup Battle consists of a week-long voting process, and, if won by Dordahan’s team, could see them win a sponsored trip and month-long mentoring programme in the United States or Europe.
“They’ve left the voting open for a week for a good reason,” explains Dordahan. “They want to see what we can do. They want to see if you’re an entrepreneur. They want to see if you’ve got what it takes.”
That realisation means that the Fashion Ghost team are now hustling to generate support and encourage anyone they can to cast their vote.
“We’ve been in touch with everyone!” says Dordahan. “We’ve talked to local entrepreneurs, we’ve been using social media, I’ve been in touch with my friends back in Iran, and we’ve talked to other start-ups in New Zealand. We’ve been talking to anyone that will talk to us to get them to vote.”
“You can cast a vote every 24 hours, so I feel like I’m checking the results every two minutes,” she laughs. “But win or lose, we’re definitely going ahead with this idea.”
“It’s an amazing feeling. Not just winning something, but when you pitch your idea and people believe in you. When people believe in your idea, that’s a great moment”.
Startup Weekends are run in over 150 countries with over 2900 events to date. Attendees have 54 hours to pitch an idea; form teams; create, validate and refine their business model; and build a prototype before presenting on Sunday night to the esteemed judges.
Voting for the Global Startup Battle is open until the 4 December. Cast your vote for Fashion Ghost here.