Chris Morton is the CEO and cofounder of Lyst, a social shopping platform that lets fashion consumers create their own online shopping experience so they can find more of what they love. Lyst is used by millions of people every month in 150 countries around the world, and generates ten of millions of dollars in sales for the leading brands and stores it partners with globally. Prior to founding Lyst, Chris was a venture capital investor at Balderton and Benchmark Capital in London. Chris has an MA from Cambridge University, where he was a DERA scholar. He has been a FoundersCard Member since 2011.
1. What inspired you to start Lyst?
We were frustrated with how hard it is to buy fashion online. The first wave of fashion ecommerce had brought offline stores online, but a lot of constraints had migrated with them unnecessarily. We believed that a totally new shopping experience could be created with the consumer at the centre, where each shopper had control over what they saw from the wider fashion ecommerce universe, where they could enjoy a shopping experience made just for them, where they were more likely to find things they liked, shared from the brands, stores and personalities they followed.
We also saw how Twitter had revolutionised the way we consume content online, so we wanted to build an analogous social following model that changes the way we shop.
2. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you want to start a business with someone else, find your cofounder(s) before quitting [your job] to get started. In many ways, your early team is more important that your concept.
3. What was the hardest part about getting Lyst off the ground?
The hardest part was finding super-talented people who buy into the vision enough to quit their jobs and work around the clock for little to no pay. Without our team, there would be no Lyst.
4. What is one book you recommend to everyone?
It changes all the time, but I love most of Borges’ short stories, especially El Aleph and The Library of Babel. He never uses many words when a few will do
5. Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz) from Andreesen Horowitz – his blog is gold. Especially if you love rap.
6. What is the hardest part about your job?
Time away from friends and family.
7. Give us your best plug or brag a bit about what your projects you’re working on now?
We grew over 1000% last year and now millions of people use Lyst every month, so we’re working pretty hard to make sure nothing falls over. We’ve got a number of major releases lined up for Q1 this year which will improve the Lyst experience significantly on both desktop and mobile.
I’m also excited about growing our NY office – we’re now hiring a VP Marketing and some other roles: http://www.lyst.com/careers/
8. How many days a month (or year) do you spend traveling?
I spend about half of every year away from home.
9. What is the #1 fashion fail you have seen recently?
The jury’s out as to whether this is a fail – earlier this year Jil Sander designed a paper bag at $250 which straddles the line between brilliant and terrible: http://www.lyst.com/bags/jil-
10. What is one startup that FoundersCard Members should keep an eye on in 2013?
Don’t ask me – ask your kids, nieces, nephews and parents, they’ll give you real insight. Most tech people didn’t see Pinterest coming and still think Snapchat is for sexting…
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