Farnoush Mirmoeini - Co-Founder of Obsessory.com

Your passion is not something you have to figure out. It is not a eureka moment, but something that you have to develop and nurture.

Farnoush Mirmoeini is the Co-Founder of Obsessory.com. Obsessory is a global fashion e-commerce site that focuses on products from all over the globe; and uses technology to help us work with them. Farnoush has previously worked in quantitive finance and investment banking, where she developed mathematical models for trading and risk management. In love with shopping, fashion, beauty, and travel, Farnoush is always on the lookout for new and brilliant designers, which led her to the creation of Obsessory.com. Her dream is to organize fashion e-commerce using data science and artificial intelligence, which is the foundation of Obsessory.com. Farnoush holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, as well as Bachelors and Masters degrees in Engineering from the University of British Columbia, where she has done research on statistical signal processing.

Where did the idea for Obsessory.com come from?

I used to work in banking, and had a very busy schedule, with even less time to shop and browse. At times, I knew exactly what I wanted, but when those stores that I knew did not have the specific items I wanted, like a trench coat, for example, I had to go from store to store and browse their products to see what I liked.

I remember the exact moment I knew I had to take charge and organize fashion e-commerce once and for all! I was walking into the London Bridge tubing station during rush hour and I saw someone wearing a very intricate coat, which I immediately fell in love with. Try as I might with Google and other searches, I was not getting any useful results and, in fact, the searches kept directing me to the coats that weren’t even remotely similar. I discussed this and other similar frustrations with my co-founder and together we came up with the idea for Obsessory.com, although he was the main architect.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Typical day? That never happens at a tech startup! I have a few fixed points in my day, and I usually wake up at 5:30 am and start working straightaway. I have heard it is bad to do this but I have to make the most out of each day! We work with India, so I would like to work with the team there and use the hours we overlap the most effectively. I do my workout around noon, and in the afternoons I typically have meetings with fashion partners and our marketing staff. Evenings are usually spent at an event, meeting friends, or working. I do the majority of my strategic work in the evenings, outside of business hours, since there are a lot of distractions during the day. By the way, I try to plan my weeks, rather than days because it enables me to accomplish more. I tend toe spend more hours working in the evenings earlier in the week, and go out for socializing and networking only later in the week.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I discuss a lot of things with my co-founder. He is very creative and has a deep technical background. Once we discuss an idea, we create proof-of-concepts and go from there.

What’s the one trend that really excites you?

Internationalization of e-commerce. Back when I moved to London from Canada, I could not find any of my favorite stores, from Club Monaco to J Crew. One time I ended up paying exorbitant import charges for one of my online purchases, after which I just stopped my online shopping from across the Atlantic. Things have changed since then and fashion e-commerce is quickly becoming well-connected and global, which mean you can shop from your favorite designers, regardless of whether they are large or small. I am excited to be a part of this fashion revolution and to be working on the tools to enable it.

What is one habit of yours that that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I spend time every night writing down the three things I want to do the next day. These three things should be in the important/strategic quadrant. It gives me a lot of direction because as an entrepreneur, I am bombarded with requests and action items that look urgent, but have a low return on investment.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your passion is not something you have to figure out. It is not a eureka moment, but something that you have to develop and nurture.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Reading/watching news is a waste of time. It doesn’t make one happier or smarter. It is fun and engaging, but it is also addictive and takes away one’s focus from the important things. On their deathbed, nobody would think, “wow, did I read some really exciting news in my time.”

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone do?

Develop and empower people so that they can grow and manage different streams. A company cannot grow with a perfectionist founder who wants to be at the center of everything. Recruiting and investing in the right people is critical for growth.

What is the one strategy that has helped you grow your business. Please explain how.

We optimize everything and constantly try to improve our processes and products. We spend a lot of resources on infrastructure and automation, using cutting edge artificial intelligence algorithms. This way our search engine has become scalable, and gives better, faster, and more accurate results than any other portal available today.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Initially we started with a technology and a product roadmap that was quite complex and took a very long time to finish. In the meantime both the e-commerce world and the open source technology world had moved on to better technologies. Even though what we had was not obsolete, it was not operationally sound enough to take to market in the long term. So with a heavy heart we decided to get rid of the its core, and re-develop many of the modules. It was a great lesson in perseverance, agility, and teamwork.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think there is a lot of scope for development in smartening our kitchens. I want my fridge to message me and inform I am low on milk, and the eggs are about to expire. I want to be able to tell my kitchen that I am cooking green chicken curry tonight, and have it give me a few recipie options and a shopping list, taking into account what we have at home, or better yet I can just order the groceries through my kitchen. Do this and I will be your lifelong customer!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I was buying coffee beans at Whittards and the sales rep urged me to try their chocolate flavoured rooibos tea. I am a chocolate fiend, but have always been wary of chocolate flavours, but she was quite insistent. It was love at first sip and the next day I went back and bought seven jars. It is the perfect thing to drink in the cold winter nights when I work late and I drink cup after cup with clear conscience!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Sticky notes on my laptop! It comes on windows and it sits like post-its on your screen. I have tried many things, task management apps, fancy to do lists, you name it, but could stick to nothing for long and it would get lost in the many browsers or apps or needed updating. I have always loved post-its however, and started using the sticky notes on a couple of years ago, they stay open on top of all browsers and applications so they are always there. I still put a lot of post its on my laptop and desk though!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things. It gives really great advice about actual problems you face as an entrepreneur, and how to deal with real situations that arise when you run a business. I find this is the only book that givens to the point and actionable advice rather than generic and obvious type of advice that you normally find in business books.

What is your favorite quote?

“Life is short. Health is shorter.”

Connect:

http://obsessory.com/
Twitter: @obsessorydotcom
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/obsessorydotcom
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/obsessorydotcom/
Farnoush Mirmoeini on LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/farnoush