Start-up stories: Jason Lowe, FYB London

Start-up stories: Jason Lowe, FYB London

Everything is getting smarter. Smart phones, smart TVs, smart meters to manage your energy… now FYB London bring us the smart handbag, and smart it certainly is!

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Tell us about your business, what does it do?

FYB London brings forward the latest in SMART technology with features never before seen in the fashion industry, all geared towards aiding busy, mobile people in their day to day lives. Our debut range features the worlds Smartest Handbags & travel totes offering the following features enclosed within a timeless, fashion piece:
-          Wireless phone charging – So you can simply drop your phone in and let it charge
-          Bio-Metric (fingerprint) Lock Security
-          Bluetooth® Connectivity and proximity alerts to a phone app
-          And Lock / Unlock from your phone!
-          RFID Protect Card pockets – Protect your contactless cards
-          Organisation to rival a mobile office

Our inspiration is the changing way we work, live and travel. Smart phones, social media, air travel & changing work practices have all paved the way for a more mobile, connected lifestyle for individuals in pursuit of their goals. FYB provides aspirational women with both style and powered functionality empowering them to go further & longer by removing key limitations such as limited device battery life, security and organisation.

What did you do before you started this business?

Before starting FYB London I was involved with another venture creating innovative products into the travel and outdoors market.

What inspired you to start up?

I was inspired to start FYB London as I saw an opportunity to take a huge leap forward in the fashion accessories field through the integration of the very latest smart technology.

The inspiration behind the FYB London brand was created with a colleague (and now Co-founder of FYB) whilst travelling the world on sales trips. We were both struck by the idea “Follow your Bliss”, a quote from Joseph Campbell, the American Writer & Mythologist. The idea is that by following the path of doing what makes you happy, a path that was always waiting for you, doors will naturally open and you begin to meet others in your field of bliss.

This is a philosophy we have built into our products and aimed to encourage others to follow. For us it meant creating innovative, stylish products which empowered the lives of people like us.

How would you describe your business to your grandma?

We help enterprising women to achieve more through clever design & the latest technology.

Where do you get advice, support or help?

I am extremely fortunate to have the mentorship of the Virgin Start Up team to talk through issues and opportunities. This was a prize for having won the inaugural Virgin Disruptors event in London last year where I was chosen as the winner & recognised for industry disruption by a panel including Sir Richard Branson and other notable entrepreneurs.

Over the past few years I’ve also built a strong network of entrepreneurs across different industries who are very generous with their knowledge and time. 

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?

When starting FYB London we took the decision to utilise the growing effectiveness of crowdfunding to fund our first production run. We set an initial target of $30k to achieve this which we hit after just 72 hours and went on to raise $137k in 30 days (438% to target).

We decided to follow this method for a couple of key reasons. First and foremost, it presented an excellent opportunity to fully test and validate the demand for our product by putting us directly in touch with our target customers. We were therefore able to set up a direct line of communication to find out what they wanted, what they liked and didn’t like at the latter stages of our product development.  Crowdfunding also produced a huge amount of positive PR & awareness of our product internationally.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

I think our biggest achievement so far has been the interest and demand generated through our Kickstarter campaign. We were blown away by the interest in purchasing and are excited to deliver our products to our backers.

How do you differentiate your business from others?

We deliver empowering functionality without the gimmicks. We only include technology where it adds genuine value to the day-to-day lives of its user.

What’s it like to be your own boss?

Being your own boss is liberating in the fact that I am free to do whatever my business requires to grow. I am free to bring my ideas to life.

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

In 5 years time I hope to see the FYB London brand grow and be stocked in quality, prestigious retailers globally. I also hope to further grow our female range as well as introduce a male range.

We want to be a disruptive force to the fashion industry really moving things forward to better serve customers.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be brave and start – you have nothing to lose!