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Flashback to 2005: Catching up with Sarah McVittie

Wed, 06 February 2013

In 2005 Sarah McVittie and Thomas Roberts of Texperts were in the Shell LiveWIRE UK Final.
​After selling the business Sarah set up a new company called Dressipi, so we caught up with her to find out more…

What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
It was back in 2005, so was a while ago! It was a great experience, Thomas and I had just started our first business (Texperts), we were 26 and it was a really exciting time for us. Starting a business when you are young is a really great time to do so, you don't know what you don't know and have the confidence to just go for it! Although we had already learnt a few lessons and had a couple of setbacks it is amazing how much the Shell LiveWIRE program helped to build our confidence both in ourselves and in our idea.

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
So much has changed! We built a great business with Texperts and sold it in 2008 to our largest competitor in a multi-million pound transaction. I learnt so many lessons setting up, running and selling Texperts that when we sold it and I went out to New York to work for the acquiring company I ended up resigning pretty quickly to come back and start my second business!

In 2010, I set up a company called Dressipi with a brilliant lady called Donna Kelly. Dressipi is a free fashion advice and recommendation service. It gives the know-how to dress your shape and update your style – and is a quick and easy way to find the best clothes and brands for you. We started Dressipi as busy women, with little time to shop but wanting to dress our best. Understanding that what we wear is personal, we brought together a top styling team – and combined it with our expertise in technology to create a service that could be both free and accessible to all.

Dressipi’s mission is to give women the confidence to look your best and feel great about your shopping and dressing decisions. Dressipi creates an accurate profile for you, called a Fashion Fingerprint, based on your own body shape, style and preferences. All of our fashion and style advice is unique to you and based on your Fashion Fingerprint. Dressipi’s top styling team identifies the most inspiring and flattering types of clothes for you. They give you a free personal Style Guide that includes a list of your wardrobe Must Haves and the styles you should avoid. And then every day our technology searches all brands online, from high street to high end, looking for Recommendations that best match your Fashion Fingerprint, to present your own daily edit of the season’s best pieces.
Sarah McVittie and Thomas Roberts
Sarah McVittie and Thomas Roberts when they won their award in 2005

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
I think part of what makes entrepreneurs the kind of people they are, is their ability to adapt to ever changing circumstances. You learn that the best way to progress and succeed is to adapt. You learn to truly listen and to empathise with all your stakeholders.  This means that you need to be constantly questioning and challenging the status quo and why you do things. I hope that I have become better at these skills and hopefully we will soon see the benefits of this as Dressipi becomes more successful. 

What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
Starting a business is hard work (there are so many obstacles) and I have made plenty of mistakes, but the key point is that you tend to learn from those mistakes and in doing so get better at building your business. Raising money is hard work but when you believe in something enough you learn that tenacity and passion are two of your greatest assets. I am passionate about technology, data, solving real customer problems and I also want to look lovely so, for me, it really is the perfect job!

Understanding how to build the best team and how to work best together as founders to achieve the perfect partnership is also something worth working hard at. Donna and I have different but complementary skills and we are both driven and passionate, which means there have been the occasional fireworks! But it is always with the best interests of our business at heart.

As the business is still at such an early stage it is also still possible for both Donna and me to combine the creativity that we enjoy (in whatever discipline) with the business needs which more often than not enable us to arrive at solutions that are far more efficient than the "normal" way of doing things. So although it is difficult I enjoy and relish the challenge!

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur about to set up in business?
1. Make sure you are solving a real problem.

2. Make sure you believe in and are passionate about what you are doing.

3. Go for it!

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