- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 20 June 2012 06:35, Updated 28 June 2012 05:21
Move quickly: Jodie Fox says striving for perfection may delay a start Edwina Pickles
After unveiling their internet retailer Shoes of Prey, founders Jodie and Michael Fox and Mike Knapp quickly noticed some imitators trying to crack their idea of customers designing and ordering bespoke shoes online. At first they weren’t fazed but then the threat became real.
A competitor that had been lagging in terms of technology suddenly caught up, Jodie Fox explains. “They’d cracked the complexity in their designer that we’d worked really hard to make,” she says.
The trio were “horrified” and believe that their competitor scraped their website to get access to the code that underlies its functionality. All three have legal backgrounds and seriously considered litigation but Fox says this would have been a distraction. “My business is not here to get into litigation,” she says. “We decided to out-innovate them.”
Despite the turmoil, Fox says starting a business in stealth mode is “old school”. “If you wait until you’re completely ready, you’re probably too late,” she says. “And people want to be a part of the journey with you.”
Fox says the nine months it took to get Shoes of Prey online was actually “too long” and the four months it took the team to develop its second business, prescription glasses retailer Sneaking Duck, was more suited to the fast pace required of internet start-ups.
The team, which has just raised $3 million from angel and venture capital investors, has blogged its experience at 22michaels.com from the beginning. This encourages loyal customers, who sometimes help with strategy, Fox says. “As a start-up you can’t pay the kind of people that you would love to have thinking about your business,” she says. “[On the blog] . . . people do engage with us. They come along that journey and they do want to help us solve problems.”