Entrepreneurial Lessons: Vilija Buteniene, Co-Founder of Huedash

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Shopping online is part of our everyday life but it doesn’t mean that we are having a pleasant experience browsing, searching and not always find what we want. Enters Huedash, a customer engagement tool that help brands turn customers into active, authentic and relatable influencers. It’s simply the future of e-commerce, as its co-founder Vilija Buteniene points out. In this interview, she talks about the idea behind the app, how the best lessons come from mistakes and the importance of having a strong vision.

Project M: What motivated you to launch the brand?
Vilija Buteniene: Together with my co-founder, we’ve realised that people come in all different shapes and sizes, fashion comes in many different tastes and guises. So everything is a story. We wanted to enable people to tell their visual stories. Here at Huedash, we believe that everybody is an influencer, and our platform lets them discover to inspire.

While following all-stars influencers, I have realised that it had become more difficult to find a more relatable and more authentic view, shared by “real” people. Stories told by customers are more relevant to other customers. Authenticity and trust are at the core of how influence works. Even being a techie, I must admit that there is still no substitute for the connection between people, and technologies help us explore and produce innovative ways of enhanced shopping and consuming in general.

We were confident we would enable people to share their powerful stories, to turn from customers into active promoters of their favourite brands. Since Huedash users own the products they are promoting, their recommendations a lot more authentic and relatable. Huedash works as a mobile app and a website where people shop from peer photos, create their own shoppable posts and earn rewards for promoting their recent purchases, and redeem them for new products. We also see the power of crowd-styling as one of the solutions to extend the lifecycle of clothes as customers can find more new ideas to wear the same item longer.

A strong vision that there is a space for more relatable and natural shopping delivered by customers was the core inspiration that gave us motivation to start building a shopping app, approaching cool UK’s fashion brands and start gaining the first customers. It has been an amazing journey so far and together with our team, we’re shaping the way we are shopping for fashion products today.

Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Vilija Buteniene: Launching a new brand is always related with some challenges, that’s why it’s exciting to start a new business. This business is the third one for me, so I was aware of some challenges I’d been going to encounter already. We’ve been working on this project for 2 years now, and we’ve got a moderately expensive mistake made by choosing the wrong advertisement campaign. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to learn from this and make a better choice next time.

Fashion tech is very fast paced and you must be aware of changes in customer preferences. You have only 8 seconds to capture anyone’s attention and keep them engaged with your content. So you must get ready and get real. People have no time for the long journey from discovery to purchase as they browse and shop on mobile devices while on their journey home or to work. They want relevant content, they want more transparency and trust in the existing influencer marketing activities and they want recommendations by ‘real’ people. As a startup, we’ve been searching for our unique identity that would resonate with our target audience, the one that people could easily relate to. Making right decisions on what next steps you need to take in igniting people with your vision, bringing customers to your platform is a huge challenge as well as the most exciting and rewarding activity an entrepreneur could ask for.

When you work in a tech startup, there are so many opportunities and directions you could choose, however, only a clear focus and the right priorities will bring the startup to the next step. From our early customers, first brands we’ve got so many insights, suggestions and requests, and including our own ideas on new features it had become unmanageable – which one is our priority, is this one absolutely needed, will this activity bring Huedash towards our vision? – these were the questions we needed to ask before each task. This was an important lesson we’d learned after a one year’s work together as a team.

Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Vilija Buteniene: Start today: bring a piece of paper and write down your ideas, your vision, why it’s important to you and others, what resources you will need. Try taking even a very small step each day, it’s a good feeling, knowing that you’re working towards your vision.

Learn more at www.huedash.com

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