UPcload: Berlin Start-Up Aims to Revolutionize Clothes Shopping

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A Dream for Fashion Companies Moses and Schulze are confident that the manufacturers will go along with the plan. Nowadays, a large proportion of all books are purchased online, but only 7 percent of clothing items, Schulze explains. "Almost half of all the clothes bought online are returned," he adds. The industry knows that it must do something about that state of affairs, and UPcload could provide a solution to the problem. The online shop would merely need to integrate a couple of UPcload buttons. The clothing manufacturer would also have to provide the site with its standard measurements.

Of course, Moses, Schulze and their colleagues have given much thought to other possible uses for their data. Possible applications could include fitness and diet programs, templates for custom-made computer game heroes and, naturally, also market research. The biggest body-size study to date measured a total of 13,000 people using body scanners. UPcload could record millions of data sets with sufficient accuracy. For fashion companies, it would be a dream -- even if some Internet users might feel uneasy about sharing data about their body measurements.

The UPcload idea has been very well received among programs to support entrepreneurs. The young businessmen have been showered with awards from, among others, the German Economics Ministry and the German E-Commerce and Distance Selling Trade Association.

'You Must Believe in Success'

Although the path to the UPcload idea and development may seem straight, in reality, it was as convoluted as the way to Moses and Schulzes' office in Berlin.

"In the beginning, it was hard to fall asleep," Moses recalls. "Although you know how badly things are going at the time, you must believe in success and convey your optimism to your co-workers and business partners."

The bureaucratic hurdles, the juggling of investors and ideas, and the constant poking around in the dark pushed the young founders to their limits. "We had a lot of money from our customers, but we did not really know if our idea worked," says Moses. "That was a terrible situation." It was especially true because Moses and Schulze themselves are not product designers but, rather, economists. The actual know-how was provided by a programming team in Israel, which was responsible for the technical implementation of the idea.

Start-up support was given primarily by Humboldt Innovation, a private subsidiary of Berlin's Humboldt University that aims to support spin-off companies. They provided the founders with money, rent-free office space and, above all, guidance navigating the bureaucratic maze. "We felt driven: We needed to do something, but we didn't know what," Schulze says, describing the situation a year ago. "In Germany, no one tells you how you start a company."

The city and country could greatly benefit from more innovators. "Berlin gains so much know-how in a short time from people like us," Moses says. "I am convinced that the money Germany has invested in us will be paid back by us many times."

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