Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Elinor Pitt is co-founder at Stitched, a fast-growing ecommerce company selling made-to-measure curtains and blinds using 3D customisation technology. Stitched believes in a new generation of products that are made from sustainable materials, rather than mass-produced synthetic alternatives that are harmful to the environment. Formerly, Elinor was a Senior Interior Designer at Kensington Design in London and Tech Analyst at Nomura, she also graduated from KLC School of Interior Design Graduate; University of Bristol, Electronic and Communications Engineering.
What is the idea behind Stitched and how did you come up with it?
My background was originally in the traditionally male dominated environment of electronic engineering and I then worked in the reverse demographic of the very female led interior design world and it was quite natural to decide to connect these two paths that formed part of my journey.
Having spent 6 years working in the home decor industry I was frustrated by the lack of customisation technology that could better articulate to the customer how things were made. I was also really sad to see issues with the mass production of home furnishings and issues with supply chain in the textiles industry and thought there must be ways of doing things better.
When did it all start and do you have other members in your team?
In September 2016 I left my job and went into a phase of technical exploration and started to look at 3D technologies and Augmented Reality capabilities. Soon after I met my co-founder Will and that is when Stitched was born. It was just us for 8 months working out of coffee shops around London before we found our 3rd team member which forced us to find proper offices. 9 months later and we are now a full time team of 7 with various part-time roles helping us fill out tasks as we grow. We wouldn’t have been able to grow out our team so quickly if we hadn’t managed to close out our pre-seed investment round earlier this year.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
1 year 9 months since I’ve been working full time on Stitched, but it wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t pursued my previous study/careers in engineering (5 years) and home decor (6 years), so you could say longer … but really, I may have planted a seed but the business is gaining momentum from all the different people that are adding their own unique touch and making Stitched their own, we’ve got so many mixed skills in the business now.
What was the biggest obstacle?
So far it was definitely raising investment. Will and I spent so much time pitching to investors and trying to raise funds, it was exciting but sends you on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. It’s hard, because you need the funds to help the business grow and build great foundations but it also takes valuable time away from focusing on the business itself.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
Biggest achievements, probably persuading such an amazing group of people to come and work with us, it’s quite scary because we believe so much in the business and finding fast followers and people to come and join us full time helps keep the momentum and the excitement going whilst evolving our business quickly in an age of technical acceleration.
What are your projects you are currently working on within your company?
We are working on lots of things, but probably most interesting for your readers is our tech developments. Now that our CTO has joined us we are moving much more quickly, we are focusing on improvements on our 3D capabilities and realism, it’s difficult because people are shopping through a web browser we have to be careful on making sure our 3D models are built in the simplest way so as not to waste people’s data allowances, it’s a tough balance.
We are also working on our AR developments and are excited. We focus a lot on measuring capabilities which is where we feel AR actually becomes useful for the home decor industry, that’s why we first decided to focus on 3D in web browsers, get customers used to the idea of shopping in 3D before easing them in to AR over time which to a lot people isn’t quite good enough/accessible yet.
What will be the key trends in the AR/VR industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
We believe very much that mobile devices will probably become obsolete in time and most likely wearable glasses will become the new norm, a world of assisted reality. We have a pair of the first SnapChat glasses in the office, not because we use them that much, but more because we believe they will become iconic in time as the first movers in trying to get people used to the idea of wearing technology everyday.
What are the challenges of being a female founder and entrepreneur in AR/VR?
I have definitely have found a lot of our investors meetings quite intimidating, unusually most of our investors are actually women and are all hugely inspirational advisors to have supporting the business offering up different strategic advice. A lot of people assume our financial director is a guy and when we correct them and say “she” there is often a moment of realisation for many, it’s great to be changing the norm.
I am really lucky as I have a great co-founder Will who is hugely supportive of women in business in general - we very much share the load and whilst I am a female founder the business has been built from scratch by both us and grows with each new person that joins.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs in AR/VR out there?
Stay visionary, once you get into the details of your business it’s very easy to get bogged down by the small things, always remember to come back up for air and take a look around at the world around and get excited again about the age of technical acceleration.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in AR/VR?
The Unfold duo: Amandine Flachs / Luciana Carvalho Se, our business was just ideas when I attended my first event and the networking via them was what springboarded me into meeting all the various people that were stepping stones to help create and grow the business.
Nonny de la Peña - I saw her speak at SVVR last year with our lead angel investor Melinda Page and recognise that she has done huge amounts for the AR/VR community.
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.