Five start-up lessons from Net-A-Porter’s Megan Quinn

feature-megan-thumbEarlier this week, Megan Quinn took to the stage at a lunch hosted by the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry to share the highlights of her incredible start-up story.


Quinn is the co-founder of UK-based fashion website Net-A-Porter, which began back in 1999 when online retail was largely a foreign concept for consumers.


Net-A-Porter started off with a turnover of 18,000 pounds in its first month of sales and doubled turnover each year until it was sold in 2010 for 350 million pounds.


Quinn was there from the start, after being approached by Natalie Massenet to assist in the founding of the business. She directed the brand development of the site until 2003.


When Massenet came up with the idea for Net-A-Porter, after discovering American online fashion store Girl Shop, her and Quinn, along with both their husbands, linked up to launch the online retailer.


Here, Quinn shares five of her essential start-up secrets:



1. Be the customer


“There is an enormous, enormous power in truly understanding the customer,” Quinn said.


“Knowing who they are, where they are, what they need, what they think, how they feel, what they want and when they want it.”


“We completely understood [our customer] and I really do think this is one of the keys to our success. I think the fact that we completely understood our market put us in very good stead.”


“Our target market was initially cash-rich, time-poor [consumers]… We wanted women to be able to shop from their desks, coffee shops, airport lounges, anywhere.”


“More importantly, I was a consumer. I was able to turn this guilty pleasure into a business asset.”



2. Design can be a game-changer


“I realised – and this was a crucial game-changer for me as a designer probably – that this needed to be a site for women designed by women,” Quinn said.


“We wanted them to experience the equivalent of Vogue – flicking through a beautiful glossy magazine – but being able to click on the image, buy it and have it sent to wherever they want.”




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