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Angus Cronin-Guss

How Girls Trade went from a Facebook Group to an app with thousands of members

Girls Trade

Girls Trade is revolutionising the fashion space and disrupting the status quo by enabling young women to buy, sell and rent their wardrobes. 

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What's the 1 sentence pitch for Girls Trade?

Girls Trade is revolutionising the fashion space and disrupting the status quo by enabling young women to buy, sell and rent their wardrobes. 

What's your personal background? What motivated you to start your own company?

I am a born and raised Melbournian (Victoria, Australia), I’m 22 years old and currently still doing my bachelors at RMIT University. I spent most of my childhood as a professional freestyle skier and even got the chance to compete for the Australian team in my mid to late teens. My career as an athlete sadly came to an end when I had a crash mid competition which resulted in a few fractured vertebras in my lower back. I was told I wasn’t able to compete professionally after that, but that doesn’t stop me from getting out on the hill with some friends and egging each other on! 

All through school I still had a profound interest in the tech industry but was never given the opportunity as a kid to get into coding. I never understood it and didn’t really know anyone that could either, so I pushed it aside and started studying business. I was fortunate to have a dad who achieved a great deal in his professional career. My father had multiple businesses in a range of industries, so it came as second nature to me. At the age of 20/21 my university had plenty of courses available for coding, which I am learning on the side of my degree. I am in no way shape or form a professional coder, but I hope to get there one day.

Girls Trade started in all honestly as a bit of a joke. I created a Facebook group in 2015 for young women to buy and sell formal dresses (a formal is the Australian version of a prom). I added a few girl friends I knew and never really took it seriously until I came back to the group a few years later when it had grown to over 20,000 members... no advertising, no promotions purely organic growth by members adding their friends. I knew I had to do something, so I paired up with a work colleague at the time Dominic D’Andrea, he was a bit older than I was and definitely more experienced as I was still a teenager. We brainstormed for a few months, started designing and doing our research. A year or so later we had a fully functional app and a community of 60,000+ women in Australia buying, renting and selling their wardrobes through our platform.

What no code tools did you use to build Girls Trade and what purpose did each play in the final product?

Sharetribe: Back-end of our app (if you don’t know these guys, check them out!)

Trello: Task/feature management for app development 

Slack: Internal & external communication 

Adobe XD: App designing/prototyping 

Adobe Photoshop: designing/marketing

Canva: Ad campaigns

What were the initial costs to get Girls Trade off the ground?

The Girls Trade app MVP was in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. We changed our mind on a couple of Ui & UX things right before launch, which wasn’t cheap.

What was the process of building your product from idea to launching?

We did a lot of research before we started, we looked at our competitors even though we are doing something unique. We looked at what was and wasn’t working for their members and came up with new features that we think our future members would want.

We were lucky to already have tens of thousands of people in our Facebook already, so we created a focus group and got their feedback. This was probably one of the most vital things we did in the initial stages. We drained as much information as we could out of our focus group members and even got them to try out our initial designs through test flight.

How do you attract customers?

Our first members were all from our Facebook community, within the first few hours of launch we had 1000 members joining which was so exciting for us. But we knew this would inevitably dry up, so we concentrated on social media advertisements, events, and fashion influencers.

What are the biggest challenges you've overcome building Girls Trade?

I would say the biggest challenge we had building Girls Trade was the UI & UX for the mobile application. We spent weeks designing the pages only to throw them out the next day and start again. No one in our team were professionals in this area, but we did decided to do it ourselves due to the fact we knew our members better than anyone else. We wanted to create a frictionless change over from our Facebook group to our app. Till this day we continue to trial new things and move things around to see what works best.

What's your advice for non-technical people who want to start a company?

Research, research, research! If you don’t have a tech background like me, some very basic Google searches could save you a lot of time and money $$$. 

What are your future plans for Girls Trade?

Our future plans are to expand our membership base in Australia to 100,000 members, and then move to other fashion-oriented cities and countries. We are looking into expanding into the male market, we are likely to develop a whole new application for males as we believe that separating these two markets is better for the consumer. 

Apart from the application itself, we want to see more young female entrepreneurs starting their own shops or businesses through our platform. We see a few pop up here and there on our platform but we believe that there is so much talent out there that is undiscovered. We keep in touch with these members and help them out as much as we can.

How do you think the rise of no code tools will impact entrepreneurship?

With the rise of no code tools available out there, the percentage of people taking the leap and turning their idea into a business will more than likely keep increasing over time. The possibilities almost seem endless and I see a huge market springing to life for the no code software companies. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Girls Trade is very premature at this stage and I am excited to see what we can turn into. The rise of no code SaaS companies is exciting to me and I am eager to see what the future beholds. 



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