Monday, November 28, 2022

Don’t worry about being perfec

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

REFRAMD create eyewear products designed to fit people and not the other way around

Please introduce yourself and your startup REFRAMD to our readers!

I’m Shariff, and together with Ackeem, we founded REFRAMD. The basic concept behind REFRAMD is that good design empowers, acknowledges, and reflects society’s rich diversity. Our idea started with the aim to design eyewear products for people with low and wide nose profiles (nose profiles found on many Black people) concerning our sunglasses. Quite quickly, it became clear that other overlooked groups would benefit from our products as well, such as people from East Asia and people with Down Syndrome. And so, we set out to create eyewear products designed to fit people and not the other way around.

How did you get the idea of REFRAMD?

REFRAMD, as an idea that eventually became a business proposition, was born out of personal frustration. Whenever we tried glasses, we felt unease at how they looked on us; for a long time, we felt that our face was just not meant for glasses. At some point, we realized the problem wasn’t with our faces but with the glasses themselves. After this eureka moment, it became clear that the glasses were not made for people like us, and we decided to do something about it. 

Why did you decide to start with REFRAMD?

REFRAMD has its roots in years worth of personal frustrations and an unwillingness to accept the world as it is. We felt that we could change something in an industry that has been neglecting millions of people for far too long,

What is the vision behind REFRAMD?

We want to make the eyewear industry more inclusive. Therefore we need diverse voices and inputs at different departments of the eyewear industry, particularly in positions of power. We can address our blind spots by embracing diverse points of view. REFRAMED wants to make the world more inclusive by challenging the status quo. 

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

Starting a business itself isn’t complicated. However, becoming a success is a different story. The biggest challenge we face is the general assumption that people have of Reframd that we only gather to black people. I think that’s because we are two black founders ourselves. We also noticed that there are investors who believe our product is too niche or not a real problem. I think those reactions are coming from a very privileged place. They assume that it’s not a big issue because it never affected them. That’s also the reason why we are fighting for more diversity. For the eyewear industry, or any industry to ensure it is catering to all races and identities, we need to have diverse teams throughout. We need inclusion, representation, and participation of various groups of people at different levels of any industry. 

Who is your target audience?

We started with a focus on people with low and wide nose bridges; However, We believe that we have the most inclusive approach in the eyewear industry because our frame algorithm can adapt to any nose and facial profile. This means that everyone who struggles with finding correct fitting eyewear is a potential customer. We want to acknowledge that some groups of people have been excluded in one way or another from the current product offering in the eyewear industry. Given that we are both black founders, it seemed apparent to start closer to home. Initially, our products had fixed nose profiles and sizes. Still, through conversation amongst ourselves and other people who face a similar problem of not finding the correct fit, we decided that it would be better to have adaptable designs to serve wider facial shapes and make our products available to the mass.

Over time these initial assumptions have been validated by positive feedback and interest in our products from people across (Western Europe, the USA, Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Japan). A real eye-opener for us has been the number of people expressing that they feel acknowledged, seen, and valued because products are being developed especially for them. 

What is the USP of your startup?

We’re offering the most inclusive eyewear standards in the market. Our frame generating algorithm can make our glasses fit anyone with any nose profile and facial shape. Our technological advantage allows us to manufacture a large batch of glasses, all different from one another, within only a few working days.

Can you describe your typical workday?

There is no such thing as a “typical” workday. This is one thing that makes entrepreneurship in the company’s early days extremely exciting.

Where do you see yourself and your startup REFRAMD in five years?

We believe that the world will be a more inclusive place than it’s now. For REFRAMD, we hope to have a customer base worldwide and expand into different product categories where the status quo has also neglected large groups of people. It’s our goal to become the number 1 inclusive brand of the world.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Get comfortable with the unknown. As a founder, you will always be forced to decide without fully understanding what is coming. That is just something you have to get comfortable with.

Don’t worry about being perfect. The more time you spend building your product without getting feedback from real customers, the higher the risk you are taking. At some point, you might even realize that your customers want something very different from what you have just given them. Build your MVP, ship it, get your early adopters on board, and establish a good connection with them. From there, you can focus on improving your product or even pivot.

Enjoy the ride. You’ll have a lot of ups and downs as a startup founder; you’ll meet interesting people, you might even see some exciting places. Don’t forget that nothing lasts forever. Zoom out regularly to see how far you have come, and don’t forget to celebrate your milestones!

Thank you Shariff for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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