Finding an operational and business model for LittleKnights – functional clothing that is fashionable and protect children from electro-smog waves. By applying lean startup to the search for the business model, and lean management to the operations.

The startup idea: Offering clothing that protects children from electro-smog waves

The idea of LittleKnights was pitched by Damien and Didier at the Startup Weekend Paris Fashion & Tech 2014. Damien’s daughter was diagnosed with being sensitive to electro-smog; so he was seeking to solve his own problem. Didier is an experienced executive in the fashion industry. The idea was born: Functional clothing that is fashionable and protect children from electro-smog waves that constantly surround us from smartphones and WLANs. It was the only “makers” idea on the weekend, that is for a physical product.

The teamwork: Elaborating a website, a prototype and a business model for functional fashion for kids

Damien and Didier were joined by Jiwon, Alex, Mohamed, Kévin, Lukas, Marc and me. With diverse professional backgrounds we worked on the scientific background, fashion design, operational models with partners and channels, as well as clientele and viability. We tested the problem and the solution by going out on the streets of Paris and interviewing our supposed customers, concerned parents. We were even able to get our hands on a small piece of technical textile shielding electro-smog waves; with this we proved it actually works and made a prototype.

Nicole’s contribution: Apply lean startup to your business model search, and lean management to your operations

I shared my experience with the team on how to practice lean startup to verify your business idea with customers and create a profitable business model. I collaborated on all elements of the business model creation. What I particularly enjoyed was going out on the streets of Paris and doing customer discovery interviews.

With an innovative product like this it is essential to manufacture in small batches, and seek to be close to the customers to learn about their needs, wants and willingness to pay for it. So, I suggested to consider an operational model and a business model to produce, deliver, and build direct relationships with customers. By combining the practices of lean startup and lean management, i.e. in a flagship stores that manufactures on demand, the founders could learn about customer needs instead of producing on stock. This would consequently create an operational model and a business model disruptive for the fashion industry.

The result: An operational model and a business model for an innovative FashionTech startup

Damien and Didier have an initial business model to start from. As they go along, they can consciously consider if they want to make and sell their innovative technical cloths by proven operational and business models or if disrupting the way of doing things may serve them better.

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