Tailoring Connections Proved Key to Building Online Suit Retailing Empire

Business in Vancouver's "How I Did It" feature asks business leaders to explain in their own words how they achieved a business goal in the face of significant entrepreneurial challenges. In this week's issue, Kyle Vucko, the 27-year-old CEO and co-founder of Vancouver-based online suit-retailer Indochino, describes how he and co-founder Heikal Gani were able to start as university students with a business plan and secure $18 million in financing from such investors as Yahoo's Jeff Mallett and NBA basketball star Steve Nash.

"I started the company when I was at the University of Victoria [UVic] in the business program. They have a mentorship program, so I used that and one of the program's co-ordinators, Robin Dyke, to help me identify really smart people who could be helpful as we were writing the business plan and coming up with the idea.

"[Robin's] job is to connect with students, and if there's a career path they're interested in or they want outside counselling, he'll connect them with people in the community to help them understand if this is a job they want to do, give career and life advice. So Robin was extremely helpful in connecting me to a whole series of professionals.

"We worked on the concept for a while, but we took our first round of funding when we launched the business and the site.

"In 2007, we raised a small amount of money from a group of local angels out of Victoria – mostly the senior leadership at a company called AbeBooks, a large online used-book seller.

SEE ALSO: Canadian Startup Indochino Raises $13 Million, Tom Stemberg Joins Board

"As we grew, I continued to stay close with the university. They've been very helpful along the way. They asked if they could help, and I said that I'd love to talk to Jeff [Mallett]. Jeff went to UVic and is very supportive of Victoria because that's where he's from originally. So someone from the business school connected me with Jeff.

"We had a phone call, he liked what we were up to and things evolved from there. He became an informal adviser and then an investor, formal adviser and chairman of the board.

"[We connected with Steve Nash] through Jeff. Jeff had a relationship with Steve and at one point had helped him with business-related stuff.

"He was keeping abreast of what we were doing. Steve's a stylish guy and also from Victoria, so the Victoria connection has been a consistent theme in where Indochino has come from.

READ MORE: Indochino Named KPMG's Best Overall Canadian Startup of 2012

"We had to look around for more people to invest in the company. That involved putting together a pitch deck and building a case and going around and talking to a series of investors. I was talking to folks in Canada, the Silicon Valley, in Seattle and other places, venture capital firms, and Madrona [Venture Partners] was the one that said yes.

"They were the initial investors in Amazon, among other things, so A-list venture capital partners with very applicable experience.

"Most recently, we raised a $13 million round with Highland Capital Partners out of Boston. They led the investment round with Lululemon, among other things.

"Financing has been part of our story since day one. We've just made it a habit of trying to find the best people to help grow the company to be a meaningful, large organization, and as a result, help guys get dressed and all that good stuff."

This article was originally published in Business in Vancouver earlier today.

Business in Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Business in Vancouver is an award-winning weekly newspaper serving Greater Vancouver since 1989. Targeted at business decision-makers, it provides local business news and information every Tuesday and reaches the Lower Mainland's business leaders every week. more

Indochino Apparel Inc.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Indochino is at the forefront of revolutionizing men’s fashion. Since our founding, we have grown to be one of the largest made to measure menswear brands on the market by providing gentlemen with high quality menswear that makes them look and feel like a million bucks. Our multi-channel customer experience allows men to order their made to measure shirts and suits online, via mobile or... more

blog comments powered by Disqus

Techvibes NewsDesk

Techvibes NewsDesk

Techvibes is Canada's leading technology media property.Founded in 2002, Techvibes covers technology and business news that impacts Canadians. We combine breaking local news with international coverage to deliver a unique balance of insight and information. The Techvibes Newsdesk covers a broad beat and publishes general news stories. If you have a story you would like covered, email... more

Who's Hiring

Recent Comments

Powered by Disqus