Gulnaz Khusainova – Founder of the month – CEO & founder of EasySize

Gulnaz Khusainova is currently the Founder and CEO of EasySize, a data-driven company disrupting fashion e-commerce.

Originally from Russia she moved to Copenhagen to start her current company, Easysize.  Prior to Easysize she was a founder of 2 tech startups in e-commerce and big data (with the first company founded at the age of 19).

With more than 7 years of experience in marketing and project management, she is a passionate and skilled entrepreneur. Gulnaz holds MSc in Strategic marketing and has an experience in big data technologies, while working as a Head of unit in one of the largest banks in Russia.

Gulnaz has been recognized as one of the most inspiring young entrepreneurs in Europe – most recently by Forbes in its “Forbes 30 Under 30” list.

 

Easysize was founded in 2014.  Easysize reduces unnecessary returns in fashion. We detect when shoppers make mistakes or exploit return policies.

Our mission is to make fashion e-commerce sustainable and to reduce waste caused by returns.  We’re coding the future of fashion e-commerce with the leading return prevention platform powered by artificial intelligence and big data.

Nearly 20–25% of fashion bought online is returned and globally the industry spends around $63B / year on handling returns. While some returns are absolutely necessary — let’s say a wrong item was shipped, or an item was damaged – the majority of returns happens because shoppers make mistakes or exploit return policies. For example:

  • Buy-to-rent: A shopper buys an item to wear it for a special occasion, saves the tags, sends it back, and claims a full refund.
  • Resellers: A shopper buys dozens or hundreds of items at a discount, then resells some of them and returns the rest.
  • Wrong size: Sizes differ dramatically between brands, making it hard for shoppers to choose the right size when buying online.

Easysize AI algorithm analyses every cart placed in a shop and alerts shops if the cart has a high risk of being returned. It helps educate shoppers, correct their mistakes and prevent unnecessary returns from happening.

Easysize works with large online-shops across Europe and Asia and helps decrease returns by 15-25%.

 

1. What is the most important learning you had?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I believe, that people in general and especially in startup communities are keen on helping. You just need to ask for it and do it in the right way. Make sure that you asking the right person and make it extremely easy for them to help you.

 

2. Why are you the best to run your company?

I think it’s always a team effort. You can’t build, scale or sustainable grow a company by yourself. I’m fortunate to have an amazing team with me in this journey.

We’re the best team to run this company because we are all driven by the same mission – to make fashion e-commerce sustainable. We help each other develop new skills and become better versions of ourselves. We value transparency and honesty to have a continuous feedback loop. We treat each other with respect and try to create an inclusive and diverse culture.

 

3. Would you recommend other women to start their own company and why?

If you truly dream about starting your own business, then you should certainly give it a try. It’s a great way of taking your destiny into your own hands and testing what you are capable of. It also gives you an opportunity to work on something that you’re truly passionate about.

There is no guarantee, that your business will be successful (statistically the odds are low) but you will definitely learn a lot about yourself and the industry, get a chance to acquire new skills and immerse yourself in this entrepreneurial journey.

As with any other profession, you might like or hate being an entrepreneur, and it’s certainly not a panacea to all problems. What I personally like about entrepreneurship, that it’s relatively easy to start a business (especially in Denmark), and there are fewer barriers to do that. So you can treat it as an experiment – give it a try and see if you like it.

4. What is your best tip to staying healthy and productive while you are running a startup?

I try to practice an approach with 3 fundamentals: optimising my worklife, making my personal life healthier and more enjoyable, and following a plan for all of it.  

What worked for me in my worklife is to delegate more and learn to say “No”. I highly recommend “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. It doesn’t only talk about real implication of not saying “No” but also shares some practical tips that help practice it in the regular life.

Another trick is a special way of dealing with emails. I get loads of emails every day and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by it. I wrote a blog post some time ago explaining how to reach the Inbox Zero – check it here.

I also partially delegated scheduling of meetings to my coworkers (my calendar is open, so they can easily book meetings directly) and to an AI-driven virtual assistant. I use Clara and she, using predefined settings like available time slots, meeting preferences, addresses etc,  now schedules at least a third of all my meetings.

In my personal life, I try to prioritise activities that either help me sustain a healthy lifestyle or are just simply enjoyable. What’s important is to find things that will help you recharge – some will workout, others will meditate. There is no “one size fits all”, you need to find something that will work for you. Regardless what you choose, make sure to make it a part of your daily routine. I plan my days around these routines – for example, add my daily meditation to my calendar, or make sure not to schedule any meetings late in the evening.

Sometimes you might feel lonely or down when running a company. What might help is to have a group of people who share similar experiences. I regularly meet and talk to other fellow founders – some of their companies are on the same stage, as mine, some are a few steps ahead, some exited a few years ago. Create this group of people who’ve been in your shoes, who can help you with an advice or simply give that needed confidence.

 

5. What is the biggest mistake you have made?

Underestimating how important the right team culture is.

I think, founders often misinterpret or ignore what team culture means – I certainly made this mistake in the early days.

It’s not only about hiring the most qualified people for the job but it’s about creating a place, where they can thrive and develop. Team culture is not about free lunches or ping-pong tables (which is of course nice to have). It’s about treating each other with respect, having opportunities to grow and being a place where people are comfortable every day.

Most importantly, it’s a never ending process. Your company evolves, so does the culture. It becomes a part of your job to ensure that the culture you creating is still the right one.

 

6. What is your best advice to future entrepreneurs?

Enjoy the journey.

No one can predict whether your company will succeed or not, so make sure that you do your best, treat people fairly, learn from the experience and stay true to yourself.

There is no secret recipe to building a successful startup, it’s up to you and your team to make this journey enjoyable and interesting.

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