I first heard about Out of X earlier this year when I was exploring the startup scene in Israel. They were one of the few people making waves in the fashion tech space internationally. Today, we sit down with Roee Lahav, one of the founders of Out of X, to explore what it is like to drop everything and move to China to pursue larger opportunities.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Roee Lahav. I'm Israeli, 29 years old, and the CMO at Out of X. I was born in Tel Aviv and have dedicated the last 2 years of my life to building Out of X. Before that, I established a new media marketing department for a big Israeli brand, and worked as an engineer in a large Israeli defense manufacturer, learning how big corporate works and how to avoid it. :)
I also love sports - mainly soccer and surfing.
Tell us about Out of X
The Chinese perception of luxury brands has changed in recent years. Today, 35% of the post 80s & 90s generation think independent designers are the most fashionable, and want to try new brands.
Out of X provides a fashion crowdfunding platform to connect Chinese customers with the best curated western fashion designers. Every item is a part of a limited edition series and is available for pre-sale only. This allows customers to discover unique western fashion, while also providing designers a risk-free environment to create.
You guys were originally based out of Tel Aviv, why did you join Chinaccelerator (based in Shanghai)?
Out of X started as a fashion crowdfunding platform that connected designers and customers to help designers reduce the risk of creating unique fashion, and to help customers find and discover fashion at an affordable price.
We were based in TLV and very active in London and NYC.
After a year of operation, we proved that the business model works and that people wanted to consume fashion in the way we suggested. We then decided to raise a 2nd round of funding. During our roadshow, we were exposed to an opportunity in the Chinese market - we got offers from 2 Chinese investors, received an invitation to join Chinaccelerator, and were featured on The Next Unicorn (the Chinese version of Shark Tank + The Voice). So, we decided to change our focus, leave everything, and go the Shanghai.
How would you compare the startup culture in Tel Aviv to that in Shanghai?
It feels like there is a lot is going on and events are taking place in Shanghai almost every day. It's actually hard to keep up with everything and to figure out what is relevant and what is not.
The startup culture and the community in Israel and between Israelis is very open. People are always very willing help each other. If you want to reach an Israeli entrepreneur, you can just send them an email.
In Shanghai - because people are so diverse and everyone is coming from a different background, the situation is quite different.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I spend a lot of time in the office. Getting around in China can take a lot of time, even if the destination is within a close range so we try to stick to the office.
I occasionally attend events that I feel that are relevant to meet local industry experts to learn more about the Chinese market.
Our team is very international with development in Israel, business development in London and NYC, and marketing & the founders here in China. There are a lot of Skype calls going on at weird hours.
What is the biggest challenge of owning your own business?
Understanding that you need to navigate and push things forward if you want it to actually happen. Things will not just fall into place if you sit down and wait, and products don't just sell themselves.
What do you love most about it?
I love the fact that I don't feel like I'm "going to work" in the morning or "getting off work" at night. It's just what I do. For the last 2 years and I haven't felt like it's been a "job."
How did you meet your co-founders, Shany Elkin and Nir Laznik?
Shany is my girlfriend. I helped her when she started her own brand. Although she had tons of industry experience and talent, it's very difficult to be an independent designer. I offered to help her launch a Kickstarter project for her first collection, but she said that it was for geeks. She wanted to build her own fashion Kickstarter -- I thought it was a great idea -- and Out of X was born.
Nir is one of my childhood friends. When Shany and I decided that we were going to raise money and have an international operation, we asked Nir to join the team because he had relevant experience from his previous startup.
What’s been your favorite item that has been created on your platform?
Our best selling item was also the one that I liked the most. It was a limited edition, hand-printed pair of shoes by Tamar Shalem, an Israeli designer from Tel Aviv. Running this campaign was very exciting for me -- we had about 80 customers from 10 different countries purchasing it in only 2 weeks, totaling $20K in sales.
What was the biggest mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
The biggest mistake was not celebrating success when it happens. Last year, we had a lot going on so I didn't take the time to stop and celebrate. It is something I've learned to start doing and hope to continue to do it into the future.
What’s next for Out of X?
We are launching in Shanghai and calling all independent designers and brands that want to try and reach the Chinese market to join our community.
We are starting to build our local community of customers and have been getting very warm reception.
The perception about luxury brands has changed in the recent years and more and more Chinese customers want to be unique and have trendy and boutique designers. We are here to help these customers find and discover those designers.
Is there anyone you look up to in fashion or business?
I just finished reading Peter Thiel's Zero to One and found it to be very inspiring. He has a very interesting and different approach on how to analyze business.
What are your passions outside of fashion?
My passion is actually not in fashion. I enjoy creating new things and seeing ideas and creativity turn into something that is real.
Any final parting words?
I wish the best of luck to us and to all entrepreneurs that are working hard to build the products and companies that they have envisioned.
If you have questions you'd like us to ask in future interviews, feel free to email email@example.com.