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Wardrobe Sharing Website Earns Bentley Student a Place in Boston’s Lean Startup Challenge
Got an important event and nothing to wear? Try wardrobe sharing. The idea earned Bentley masters in Human Factors in Information Design student Amrita Aviyente a finalist spot in Boston’s Lean Startup Challenge, a six-week business model competition in which early to seed startups are selected to either launch a new idea or bring an existing idea and take it through multiple iterations with the goal of finding a product/market fit. Aviyente’s Date My Wardrobe website — an online marketplace for sharing and renting high-end wardrobe items with other users — was among 30-plus startups selected as part of this challenge.
Participants take advantage of one-to-one mentoring with industry experts and attend a number of sessions based on the Lean Startup Method by Eric Ries. Date My Wardrobe website officially launched during Lean Startup Challenge demo day on October 22.
Among the top takeaways for Aviyente: Validate assumptions before building a product. “The point of Lean Startup is to eliminate waste,” she notes. “We met with potential customers to validate our assumptions that people are willing to rent high end wardrobe items.”
She was also challenged to build the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a version of the product with minimum features that can lead to learning. “In addition to speaking with customers, we contacted sellers on Craigslist posting high end wardrobe items to determine if they
would rent instead and make money on a regular basis.”
The postivie response guided next steps in building the MVP — a website that allowed users to login using Facebook, post and search wardrobe items to rent, and request a rental.
“It is very exciting as well as challenging being a female founder in Boston,” says Aviyente, who earned a master’s in Information Technology from Bentley in 2005 and is currently enrolled in the masters in Human Factors in Information Design user experience degree.
Aviyente is a supporter of women in entrepreneurship and technology, a passion that led her to write a blog to chronicle her own experiences. Earlier this fall, she presented "Agile Software Development + Lean Startup + Lean UX — How to Make it Work Together" at the Campus Party Europe technology festival in London.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.