Launching an Online Luxury Fashion Rental Startup in Hong Kong, with Timothy Kau, Founder of LuxTNT
Tim, please introduce yourself…
I’m a native New Yorker who’s lived in Asia now for 5 years. After graduating from Yale, armed with a degree in History, I went to Beijing for one intense year of Mandarin study.
Afterwards, I got a job with Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong where after almost two years, I made the decision to start my own company and voila. LuxTNT.com!
Although I knew very little about women’s fashion (coming from a family of 3 boys), luckily I have two partners who are experts and who leave me to focus on business strategy, the technology and creating the best customer experience possible.
What’s the story behind creating LuxTNT and can you explain what you do?
My partners Rosemary and Bobo, good friends and fashionistas, actually dreamt up the concept. As a top model in Hong Kong for the past decade, Rosemary has used professional stylists almost every day of her career.
Bobo also realized that while many in fashion-crazy Hong Kong still only go for status-laden fashion items, the trend is changing. More and more, there exists a style-conscious population that wants to have fun, try out new fashion quickly and in a modern way.
This is the core of LuxTNT.com – the ability to try out new fashion items and take them home if you enjoy them.
I personally had heard of Rent the Runway in New York which is attempting to evolve the ‘retail’ experience, and as a technology guy, seized this opportunity to help make LuxTNT.com a reality.
Do you purchase the bags and accessorises? How do the logistics work?
Just like a departments store, LuxTNT.com purchases from the brands directly when it can or from overseas buyers. All our goods are guaranteed 100% authentic with certified original tags when possible.
How’s traction working out so far?
I’m very humbled by our early success! Honestly, there’s not enough hours in the day to keep up. Even without a PR firm, the press continuously writes about us in all the major newspapers. Since the launch in December, our customer base keeps growing monthly at a healthy rate.
What challenges did you face when launching, and how did you overcome them?
Too many to list! As a startup, one is always short on funds and time. With no PR firm, we do our own marketing and networking which is time consuming but a great way to meet our customers and gain valuable feedback.
We always have to maintain our excellent customer service while trying to grow into other products, technology mediums and markets. We’re hiring so if you’re interested, let me know!
What tools do you use to manage all the press and PR yourself? What are you learning here you can share with other entrepreneurs?
We reach out to the press constantly and have our own database which we’ve created. Most of these meetings come about through reaching out to our team’s extensive personal network in Hong Kong.
For other entrepreneurs, I would recommend avoid sending blind emails and instead scour one’s network for press leads. These in turn will lead to more press leads.
What strategies are you using to market Lux TNT?
Old school networking has worked the best for us. Reaching out to the influencers, bloggers and designers in person is worth a thousand emails.
Even though we’re an online business, we realize the most important relationships are created face to face.
How do you see the “sharing” ecosystem developing in Hong Kong?
I’m a huge fan of the sharing economy and believe the success of AirBnB has unleashed a tidal wave of new sharing businesses. However, I personally believe there are limits to sharing and one cannot simply apply sharing to every market and product blindly.
For LuxTNT.com for example, we are not a marketplace where one can rent out your fashion goods to earn extra income for the simple reason we don’t believe our customers would enjoy that.
What they enjoy is being stylish, having the IT bag right now, and feeling confident so we focus on that.
What’s next for you and Lux TNT?
I don’t want to reveal all our cards but soon LuxTNT.com will be your one stop destination for a stylish night out for all Hong Kongers… and possible in other cities as well!