Tyler Jorgenson 0:01
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz Ninja, entrepreneur radio. Welcome out to biz ninja entrepreneur radio, I am your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have Kristian Ruth, who has founded a really amazing product, if you will. But it’s more than that it’s a solution to one of the biggest problems in e commerce. And that is product sizing. And so I’m excited to have Christian out on the show and to talk about his journey, and about my surefit.com. So welcome to the show, Christian,
Christian Ruth 1:03
they Utah for having me, I appreciate it. Absolutely. So
Tyler Jorgenson 1:05
you’re solving a problem. That’s real, right? And so let’s, but I want to we’re gonna come back to my surefit here in a little bit. Let’s wind the time wind the clock back on Christian, Ruth, When was the first time you realize that you are an entrepreneur?
Christian Ruth 1:20
It’s a great question. I actually worked, you know, in investment banking and private equity for a number of years. But on this side, I was always experimenting, because I always wanted to try to, you know, have a big impact on the world doing something and learn a lot from the people that I was that I’ve been fortunate enough to work for and work with. And once I started tinkering and various types of opportunities, and seeing the kind of impact that you can have as an entrepreneur, I realized that I can potentially do something great. And it would really come down to the quality of my leadership capabilities. It’s one of the biggest challenges I think that entrepreneurs deal with is they may have an idea or a plan or a goal. But at the end of the day, you have to have a team, you have to be able to attract high quality people in order to pursue a certain, you know, in order to realize a certain vision. Yeah, absolutely. And I enjoy that I really, I’ve always enjoyed being given the opportunity to follow to learn and then to to lead, whether it’s a small team or a larger, you know, division or whatever it might be. And so I enjoyed that I enjoyed helping people achieve their potential. You know, no matter what you do, no matter what product or service, you start, you develop or create, no matter how much money you may or may not make, you know, you don’t take him with you, you know, in the day, right. So what really matters is the impact that you have on people, and frankly, their families or other people that are dependent on them, in order to help them to grow and reach their objectives. And so I think I just, I enjoyed doing that. And I think that’s one of the things that are essential for, in my opinion for for entrepreneurship, because you know, you’re not good at all your own.
Tyler Jorgenson 3:00
Yeah. So now, I mean, you mentioned you were in investment banking, you weren’t just an investment, you evaluated over 1000 deals a year. And we’re, like, part of over $28 billion in m&a deals like this, these are not small numbers. This isn’t like some, you know, you were playing big games, right. And now you’re launching your own thing. What made you decide to go out on your own.
Christian Ruth 3:23
So I appreciate that I worked with, I was fortunate to have earned the opportunity to work with some of the best people in this space in the technology, investment banking world, as well as in private equity and technology, private equity, literally learn from some of the best players in those industries, and the best thing on the planet, frankly, but they also let me experiment and I liked the operational aspects of businesses. And so you know, going back over 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to sort of, you know, work with a very early stage startup and get into contract at a private bar, I somebody and I just enjoyed the the ability to have an impact when you’re working as an investment banker, or maybe as a private equity investor, yes, you can have an impact, and you have a responsibility to help this company, their shareholders have a good outcome. But it’s not the same as being responsible for decisions, right? It’s very different in that world. In that world, you’re shooting for, you know, perfection, 99 100%, everything you’re doing right, and it’s very clear, got something wrong pretty quickly, right? In the business world, when you’re in an operating role. You’re trying to make perfect decisions with a breadth of information sources with imperfect information. And if you’re hitting 70 80% of those decisions correctly, you have a home, you know, you’re doing well. Does that make sense? Yeah. And so the key in entrepreneurship, my opinion, I enjoy the complexity, and the difficulty of operating in uncertain environments. Sure. And then you mentioned mural that my background started flying years ago. It’s very similar. You know, as an aviator, especially beyond on the the complexity of rains that you hold, the situation is getting more and more complicated over time, and you’re trying to make decisions as a pilot, it’s a weather issue, you lose an engine, you have an in cabin fire, there’s various things that can happen. And you have to be prepared to respond to that in multivariable, you know, types of emergency situations. So I just enjoy. For me, I enjoy the adrenaline phenomena of facing a really hard problem, knowing you don’t have all the information necessarily, and trying to overcome that challenge as quickly as you can. And frankly, enjoying the volume of as many of those as you can deal with. Yeah. And so I think the other thing that I liked about commercial is that you really want to go out for something that’s really, really hard to do, really hard to do. Because most businesses that you see Tyler are really there’s sort of a feature benefit, or there’s a slight benefit of what you want to do versus what somebody else wants to do. And the reality is, those businesses don’t last really long, they may last for some period of time, they may win on pricing, or some incremental feature or whatnot. But if you want to build something great, you have to find a problem that is really, really big. That impacts a lot of people and go after it, and which is exciting. But it’s also incredibly challenging. It’s really, really hard. And that’s why the cultural aspects of your organization have to be devalued. Stay informed as you pursue or paramount. Yeah, I think that’s why going back to your question earlier that I enjoy the challenge of that I enjoy the challenge of, of developing teams, and encouraging humility, right, because we’re not we’re not naturally humble, right? We want to be the best, we think we are the best we always think we’re performing. And we think we are, and getting people to be honest with themselves and try to get really good at doing something and expanding their capabilities and helping your teammates, you know, do the same thing. And over time, what happens is, I’m not only telling people what to do, I’m just trying to make sure they have what they need to do to be able to realize their potential based on the values that you’re demonstrating. So to me, helping people achieve greatness through the perseverance of certain critical values, humility, adaptability, intellectual curiosity, perseverance, things of that nature, if I can help them develop those and strengthen those capabilities, they’re gonna win no matter where they are, whether they’re working with us, or they’re working with someone, you know, they’re working somewhere else. And that’s, and frankly, I learned some of those, those qualities from the people that mentored me, you know, years ago, I was fortunate to work for some of the best and the brightest, so, and then most competitive, you know, incredibly driven, you know, you know, people that I’ve worked with over the years,
Tyler Jorgenson 7:42
I love that now, when you decided to, like make the pivot and start your own company. First of all, my surefit.com is not a brand new idea, right? You’ve been working at this for a long time. And I think, but you’re still really in the early stages of how big it has its potential right? Now, a lot of people working in a business putting eight, nine years into something, and knowing that it’s going well, but it could go, you know, there’s you’re still on the beginning of its potential. How have you kept motivated, like, throughout that time?
Christian Ruth 8:15
First of all, when I look at anything, and before I sort of, you know, sort of co founder, my surefit, I looked at, I was looking at my own investing in buying other businesses and whatnot. And my view was always, we have to be prepared to fail at any point in time. Right? So I mean, right out of the gate, it could be three months in six months in whatever it might be. Okay. Yeah. So my, my general view is that expect to fail, but strive to win. Right? And the way you handle that is you start setting very tight near term milestones. Is there actual demand for this? How do we validate demand at the lowest possible cost, right? How do we get a prototype, or concept used for validation and for testing as quickly as possible? And you’re going to think that I’m crazy, but I’ve been prepared to walk away at any point in time, even after years of you know, working at it, but I don’t, because the demand indicators continue to improve in our capabilities also continued to improve and in the scope of what we can do now compared what we could do even even two years ago, is exponentially higher than it was back then.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:20
So I think now is a great time to really help us understand what my surefit is and what you guys are doing in the marketplace.
Christian Ruth 9:27
Sure. So as you probably know, you know, have you ever gone shopping for a parallel line? Of course, okay. And do they end up ordering multiple sizes? You’re not sure what size to get?
Tyler Jorgenson 9:38
I yeah, it happens all the time. And what do you do when you receive it? You try them all on and you send the ones back that you don’t like,
Christian Ruth 9:45
right? So it’s a huge problem, right? So millions of people are experiencing this I saw years ago, just based on my technology experience and my belief in consumer behavioral changes that you know, years ago, you know, ecommerce apparel sales were less than 10% of the Just a few years ago, right there, most of most of those purchases were done in store. But I knew that at some point, people start shopping more and more online. And unlike most industries, when people would shop online, and they were getting what they were expecting, whether it’s a widget or you know, something that’s tangible, right now, is very personal, right. And you’ve got, you know, billions of people that have different style preferences, different fit preferences, you’ve got, you know, 1000s of brands that manufacture garments in and have different sizes and spectrums that vary even within brand. So the challenge that I saw years ago was that as the industry tried to move online, online would actually be a pain point a major pain point for them, because the information gaps, what I call them that did not exist in store, like your wife would go in store with a girlfriends, they see a dress they like they can try they take to resize in the fitting room, try mom come back to the back on the rack, and by the ones they want to buy online, that’s very different. Now she has to purchase in advance two to three sizes, have them sent, she may or may not like it, she might send them back. But the problem is her best friend who also might want a similar item, I want that specific item. Because your wife and theirs are ordering two, three sizes. They may fancy stock out, right, because the manufacturers weren’t prepared to have a hyper distributed fulfillment trial system. Just because people are buying online doesn’t mean they’re keeping when they buy online. Right? Right. So their friends may face this stock out, or brand manufacturers or retailers would have to stock an exponential increase in the number of items to fulfill that artificial demand, if you will, does not real demand. It’s artificial. It’s temporary, artificial demand, right. So I understood the mathematical risk and the economic risks that phenomena would have in the broader market, it also would affect consumer experiences, if it doesn’t fit your mind, abandon the brand and not come back to the brand. There’s a lot of other aspects that affect that. So we begin examining at a detailed level. And I’ve got a number of you know, as for your advisory board members that sort of I’ve worked with, in this process to really study consumer behavior, really understanding why do they shop in store, why they shop online, what are the different, you know, consumer flows all the way through to purchasing and keeping an item to understand not just the mechanics of those processes, but also the underlying psychological, emotional phenomena that go through that entire, you know, that exists, or both of those journeys. And we began just developing an experience and a capability that would reduce the frustration with online shopping and even Simson in store shopping as well, and reduce the return rates. Because my view at the time was, if this problem is not addressed, a significant number of brand reaches will go out of business, they’ll go out of business. Because if I came to you and said, Hey, I want to start a fashion apparel company, and here’s my model, I’m going to send out, you know, three dresses for every one that gets ordered. And you know, two are gonna come back, all three may come back, one of them may be damaged, you know, there’s no way you can make money on that business. So not only does it help the consumer, it really helps the brand retailers. And it also helps the environment. Because if you consider the fact that they’re having to over manufacturer to deal with that artificial demand, now you have a huge problem, because at the end of the season, what happens, you know, you don’t want the parachute pants anymore. Now, right? I mean that you know, things trend out, right. And so not only the waste of the money manufacturing, they’ve wasted materials, they wasted labor, they’ve you know, and so they either discount the items, or they or they end up destroying the items.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:33
So my shirt fit allows from the brands perspective, better supply chain management, right, better predictability and forecasting, better user experience exactly better, you know, customer experience, from the customer’s perspective, you get clothes that fit like they don’t, it’s funny, because like consumers don’t necessarily care about the consumer experience. They’re not thinking about it like that. They’re just thinking about, did I get what I wanted, right without having to jump through too many hoops. And so they’re not dissecting the consumer experience. They just know if they had a good experience or not. Did I feel good when I bought from that company or not? And so you guys are solving this problem from both sides, right? So it’s not just a solution for the retailers or sellers. It’s on your so how does somebody interact with my surefit? Like from a consumer side?
Christian Ruth 14:21
Yeah, and you’re right, and everything we started off with was we were laser focused on the consumer first because I could tell you got some phenomenal product to sell a brand retailer, but then it always begins and ends with the consumer. So we want them to have maximum convenience and confidence because we know they’re buying that garment for specific girls night out or interview or whatever it might be. So basically, the consumer can easily visit our website or they can download the app. They can in less than a minute they can upload their photo, our technology, it’s padded, it measures them with a 99% accuracy, and we can size them across hundreds of brands 10 have 1000s of different styles. And they can visualize the actual items on their bodies, they can mix and match, and have a good idea of how things would actually look, we understood that this was an important information gap that needed to be closed as people moved online, and it’s not just just the dress fit her. The question is, what if she’s trying to create an outfit? Right, going back to the consumer contextual experience, if you mentioned the experience, she wants to go out for casual night out with the girlfriends, and she wants to get a new, you know, blouse and a pair of jeans? Well, how did those blouse and jeans actually fall together? Right? And they can’t, they can’t tell that right now, from existing e commerce platforms, right? They they notice a blouse, they miss a pair of jeans, but can they put them together see how they would actually look together, right or our technology features multi level layering, so that automatically layers a jacket while the other pieces together. So we knew that in order to trigger the consumer commitment to one upload that photo, we knew we had to give them a really, really rewarding experience. And so they can do that they can also share the outfit Digital’s or girlfriends or other friends, husband, whoever to get feedback, so you’re giving them much more information before they would ever have to pull out their credit card to make a purchase. Yes, I
Tyler Jorgenson 16:19
mean, there’s, there’s a really there’s a nuance between sizing and some different companies, right? Like, you know, in some companies, you know, you’re you’re one size, another company, you’re that size, and it won’t fit at all right. And so this allows your guyses technology allows basically a virtual scan of the person. And then you overlay the brand’s sizing into that picture and allow them to find what works in each brand. I mean, is that a decent summary of it all?
Christian Ruth 16:48
Yeah, it’s a little more complex than that. But your quote,
Tyler Jorgenson 16:50
but I’m trying to think about complexity, right? They want to know, what does it do for me? Yes. So yeah, on the tech side, it’s way more complex, right?
Christian Ruth 16:59
It’s important for them to tell us that they understand what it does and how it works. wasn’t what trust it right, for them to know that before they go to, you know, take the steps to upload their photo that they can trust that we’re going to deliver? Yeah, that’s a big deal. So you hit the nail on the head, when you said that there’s nuances. There are definitely, even within brain within a specific brand, you will the way garments are designed and fit models and whatnot, there’s a range of size spectrums. sizing is effectively a language, right in mass production goes back to the Civil War. And unfortunately, consumers think that there were two or three or four or an extra small, you’re none of that with my shirt, that you’re none of that you don’t even have to see it, you don’t have to think about sizing, you just select my shirt. And we just deliver the proper size from the garment to that consumer, which frees them from the Gil. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but we certainly saw them in test sessions, the users or customers like, I know I’m a to like they feel guilty. It’s terrible. They
Tyler Jorgenson 18:02
they feel guilty, just selecting the next size up, even though it’s going to fit better, and they’re going to feel better.
Christian Ruth 18:06
Right? And that’s why you saw the introduction of vanity sizing years ago, right? It’s manipulative and the brand sort of injuries, oh, you’re not small. You’re not even extra small. You’re extra extra extra, extra small. I mean, it’s ridiculous, right? So it’s just sizing is just a language. And we’re basically the translator between with consumers unique body shapes, which we can scan with 9% accuracy, and reconcile that with proprietary information that we have created to ensure that they get the best size from those jury styles and all those brands. This is amazing, because I knew people that tried that got into this space or started to try to get into this space a decade plus ago, right? You guys have been innovating and on the forefront of this for that long.
Tyler Jorgenson 18:49
What was the first big brand that you got to buy in? Because obviously this works really well if the consumers and the brands are writing in? What was your first big win?
Christian Ruth 18:59
I would say? So it’s interesting story. So when we first started testing years ago, we worked with it with a very small number of brands. And what happened is during our test sessions, because we were doing two things during our product development, we were testing our fit algos or our technology, as well as the customer user experience on the visualization. Okay, and the whole everything in between. What happened is during that testing, consumers were trying to buy or apparel. We were literally using test samples, right and then we’ll say we want to buy it, you can buy these test samples. And I talked to our board I said Hey, wait a second. These folks want to buy now. I mean, we’re in development right now but they want to buy now. I have a crazy idea. Why don’t I see if I can get some brands to sign up to wholesale for us. Right. And so they approved we went in and I think one of the big steps is a couple years ago. We ended up having demand Tyler in less than a few weeks have probably over 500 brands that one will be probably in about a three to six six month period, all the big ones, I mean, the jeans companies, but I don’t want to favor anybody because they’re all. But these are some of the biggest brands in the world. So I mean, they were really impressed with the mainland, we were because we were showing the brands, this is our These are our test results. And this is what people want to do. And so they said, Great, we’ll start we’ll open up for you right now. We had a single store anywhere and they were they were opening up for
Tyler Jorgenson 20:24
us so so is your model, the fact that you like do you buy all these products and warehouse them and ship them out directly from my surefit? Are you drop shipping, and people buying on your app and then jump ship?
Christian Ruth 20:36
The brand retails now dropship for us. So back in the earlier days, we did some wholesaling. But our vision was always to have the brand retailers dropship there’s enough warehouses in the world. So we don’t need we don’t need to create a new warehouse, I agree to do is shorten the time. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 20:51
I think it’s fascinating, because 10 years ago, drop shipping was like kind of a naughty word. Right? Like people have frowned upon it. But most brands have unders understand now Hey, you know what, we’re happy to do this for the right Brand Partners. If you can come to us with a good enough reason. We have a supply chain system and a fulfillment system, we can plug you in. But you have to have a good enough reason. It’s not like I decided to start a new website and just drop ship Levi’s. That’s no, they might sell Levi’s without you. But you created something that was so unique, where they knew that by having you guys dropship, or sell their products, that they would have a better customer experience.
Christian Ruth 21:27
That’s really I can afford, I need an example. For example, with h&m, you know, our return rate with them has been, I think, almost 0% Wow, I mean, years ago, they had a massive inventory challenge. And or you may not may or may not be aware of this, but at a massive It was a seasonal trend kind of an issue. They were sitting on $4 billion in inventory.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:45
Yeah, I mean, they’re a fast fashion company. So like you can’t miss
Christian Ruth 21:47
right? So the trend issue there is critical. And so, you know, the fact that we can, you know, deliver, you know, meaningful sales and not have to return the unit economics for them are credibly valuable. Yeah. And so in that case, to your point, digital dropship all day long, you know that the reason they didn’t want to drop ship before other than some of the technical limitations that they may have had was the return issue. Oh, man returns. Yeah, right. And so now and it was easier from a business model perspective, they would rather sell a box volume to a major multi brand, retail, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kohl’s, whoever it might be, but in our model, right, they actually benefit of having that single size, not multiple sizes, a single size being shipped to the customer, the customers keeping it customer loves it. Now the customer loves the brand. So we’re agnostic about the brands, right, as long as that we will work with any brand that has demonstrated demand for their product, and has good manufacturing. Wally,
Tyler Jorgenson 22:45
yeah, cuz this breaks their size, consistency is garbage, right?
Christian Ruth 22:49
That’s exactly right. Yeah. garment quality or materials boy isn’t good enough. So yeah, we’ve I think we had over 1000 plus brands and willing to work with us. And we’ve called a lot of that backs to make sure that they actually had that they can meet the standards that we promise our users, we want to make sure that our customers have a good experience. And then their customers have a good experience. How many transactions have you guys done now?
Tyler Jorgenson 23:10
Through my surefit 10s of 1000s. Wow. So this is not in startup anymore?
Christian Ruth 23:16
No, it’s definitely a scale mode. And that’s, yeah, that that’s why we pretty cool on a brand new Yeah, we’re going for commercialization. And we just opened up our technology, for licensing for major brands and multi brand retailers. Because we want everybody in the world to use my shirt fit in where economics work, we have a small percentage of transactions and whatnot, we believe in and guarantee those results. And we’re in the parents in to stand by that behind those commitments. So we’re really excited about it’s been a years of brutal brutal development, testing and retesting, and you know, it’s just ongoing.
Tyler Jorgenson 23:47
Yeah. So not from the tech side. But from the business growth in general, what was one of the biggest challenges that you faced, as you kind of, you know, you knew that you had something that was gonna work, you had the tech side figured out? Like, what was the first wall that you hit? And how did you overcome it? Well, there’s
Christian Ruth 24:00
been a lot of different challenges over the years. I mean, my vision was to have millions of users using this technology at mass scale. And so you rightly pointed out, the consumer doesn’t care, they just want to know they get the brands they want and as easily as they can. But in order to make that scalable, that’s a big deal. That’s a really, really big deal. And so we just kept hitting those, as I mentioned is near term milestones prove this, prove this prove this. I would say, Well, actually, I have a funny story. So we unexpectedly searched last year, we had a tremendous amount of demand for the product, you know, overnight. And, you know, more than we expected to have in the brands couldn’t keep up with our actual order demand that we’re actually wanting into stock outs on their own. And so that was sort of a challenge and we took care of our customers and gave them additional incentives and took care of them and that process, but that was more of a big, what would you call it a kind of a double edged sword It was like I mean exploded overnight we had you know, 1000s of orders, I mean literally within 24 hours so, so that was a really big shot was exciting. But it was also you know, they really ready to handle this demand as volume for us. And so that was that was probably a big challenge and then as a result of that but again it’s like any challenge you learn and you find out okay what could have made this faster? What could have made this better? What could have ensured that there was there was no there were no hiccups or gaps or whatnot and we spent a lot of time closing those kind of implementation and fulfillment delivery gaps, you know, with the brands to make sure that those those issues would be addressed and you know, months later we’re at work and much much much more in position and and also at the time we didn’t have the ability to license that technology out to the brands that we do now. Right so they’re just they’re just more we just responded RP again went back 2.2 people actually want this Well yeah, they definitely wanted it Yeah. And now we’ll be able to be
Tyler Jorgenson 25:51
able to be able to scale it. I love it Christian and so I hope everyone goes and checks out my Sherpa comm download the app check it out next time you buy something online should be buying it through my surefit but what Christian I’m a big believer that business is about building the lifestyle you want. You’re a father of five you’ve got a big life going on. What’s one major item on your personal bucket list you’re going to accomplish this year?
Christian Ruth 26:12
That’s a great question. I would probably say to have my five year old finisher reading skills and for my my 10 year old to finish her first prefer software development application she started doing self teaching software development is Harvard an online course Yeah, last year so I hope she had her first step blocked out
Tyler Jorgenson 26:32
awesome that’s cool so just all full time dad mode whenever you’re not building my surefit I love it
Christian Ruth 26:38
that and kids soccer I mean these kids sports nowadays it’s seven days a week so it’s a
Tyler Jorgenson 26:44
absolutely alright Christian really appreciate everyone go check out my surefit if if you were close you should be using my Sherpa calm so thank you for coming out and mall my biz ninjas wherever you’re listening. It’s your turn to go out and do something. Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared. Go to biz ninja.com slash VIP and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And our one last favor if this episode was meaningful to you please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something