Every brand of shoe looks different, feels different and most importantly fits differently. But what if instead of your foot needing to fit a shoe, your shoe could fit your foot? Introducing True Gault, the mobile app using 3D imaging technology that scans your foot and tailors a shoe to your exact dimensions. Starting with the high heel, True Gault is producing high-end customized footwear for a comforting and natural feel. The company has recently raised $2.3M in funding and is available on iOS with an Android version launching soon.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and founder Sandra Gault about the company and about shoe-tech at large.
Tell us about the product or service.
True Gault has created its own proprietary iPhone app and backend systems that allow women, anywhere in North America, to get beautiful shoes that fit. They use their proprietary fit formula and 3D imaging technology to capture the biomechanics and measurements of each person’s individual feet – all via their iPhone phone (5 or higher). They then translate that information into a 3D image and create the shoe style designed by the user. All delivered directly to the customer in under 4 weeks and backed by its True Gault fit guarantee (if they don’t fit, True Gault will remake them). There is a luxe selection of 20+ styles, colors, heel heights (2” or 4” at present) and materials: 40+ leathers, patents and fabrics (and growing) Shoes start at $250.00/pair.
How is it different?
True Gault is the innovative high-tech fashion company leveraging 3D imaging technology to scan women’s feet to make gorgeous shoes with a custom true fit! Through its proprietary fit formula technology, the key component to designing great looking, custom fitting shoes is optimized by using the biomechanics of each individual foot. As a result, women no longer have to sacrifice fit over style and shoe size becomes irrelevant because the size is as unique as she is.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
American women buy more than five hundred million pairs of dress shoes each year – with an annual spend of $32 Billion per year and its been estimated that 90% of women suffering from an improper fit. On average every women in the U.S. will buy 6 pairs of shoes per year. Currently True Gault only focuses on North America but can easily expand into other parts of the world – all focusing on direct to customer custom fit & personalized designed shoes. Becoming a True Gault user, customers no longer has to search for sizes or settle for pinching, scraping, squeezing, limping and sacrificing style for comfort. The True Gault shoes are truly made for each customer all at a price point starting at $250/pair.
Of this $32B market opportunity we’re focused on women who range from 30-55yrs old, make $75K or more per year, have 4 year degrees and buy shoes on a regular basis. We know exactly where these women live and key details about their life styles. Shoes are an important part of their everyday wardrobe. Thus we’re initially focused on career centric “women-on-the go”.
What is the business model?
Our business model is simple – we sell direct-to-consumers via our website or iPhone app (Android version forthcoming), make to order, carry no inventory and capture sophisticated data analytics. For the consumer, True Gault app is free and so is the scanning process. Customers find out interesting aspects about their own unique feet and have to scan once. From that point forward users simply select, design and buy their shoes – never having to worry about size or fit.
This direct to consumer model allows us to skip over the wholesalers & retailers and passing the cost savings direct to the consumer which allows us to offer bespoke shoes starting at $250/pair.
Finally, our technology and platform is designed for future white-labeled or licensing opportunities.
What inspired the business?
The idea emerged as I stood in painful designer heels at a party, realizing that no amount of compliments could make me feel at ease. It was then I vowed that every woman – regardless of age, size, or shape of her feet – deserved a beautiful pair of heels that she could wear all day long, in perfect comfort and confidence. So I channeled my three passions – fashion, business, and technology – into True Gault.
Why focus on heels? Isn’t the popularity of heels subsiding?
No the popularity of heels is NOT subsiding. In fact it continues to grow. Women simply love heels and more importantly are passionate about finding the gorgeous shoes that fit. Traditionally, dress shoes are recession-proof too. Women will view shoes as an investment in themselves and as a way to extend their current wardrobe.
But fit is the issue and we have found those who get True Gault fit experience are often repeat customers (currently we see about 30% repeat business).
Thus True Gault’s core differentiation is not only making gorgeous shoes that fit, but in offering a unique, quick (in a matter of minutes!) and fun customer experience. The customer takes three pictures of each foot via the iPhone app, and the smart technology generates her unique size and a 3D model of each foot, making traditional sizing irrelevant. As a result, the popularity of UNCOMFORTABLE heels has subsided –and now women don’t have to choose between style and comfort.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are planning to raise another $2.5M by Fall of 2017 in addition to the $2.3M we’ve raised to date. Now that we have proven product-to-market fit, have paying customers, technology & manufacturing in place, our next key phase of the company is to start quickly growing the business through specific performance marketing & sales programs (e.g. content marketing, affiliate marketing, social media, online ads). Plus we will update our shoe collection and expand our target market reach.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
It’s going to continuously feel like you are jumping off a cliff or walking on the edge while trying not to fall. With time and practice, you will gain skills that will transform the way you think about business and life in general. One skill will be about being fearless and leveraging all the knowledge & resources you currently have access to, while incorporating your instincts. The better you get at this the faster you will grow your business. This might be known as the “entrepreneurial leap of faith” but what few founders realize is that you will have to keep leaping over and leaping over again – it never ends. You have to keep testing, reinvesting, extending, partnering, and taking risks you hope, but cannot guarantee, will pay off in order to build a successful company. It takes true bravery to be an entrepreneur from start to finish.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Just one? – There are several:
- Tory Burch – she gets the space and is an investor. She would be an amazing addition to the company
- Mickey Drexler Former CEO of the GAP board member of Apple since 1999, Mickey has the golden touch when it comes to consumer and retail
- Sheryl Sandberg – a strong proponent for women entrepreneurship and successful business women.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York has a thriving tech community, but it’s also the heartbeat of fashion and design. Because our end product is a fashion accessory, NYC offered the perfect intersection for both tech and fashion.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
I’m a fan of Robert at the top of the Museum of Art & Design – the food is visually as impressive as it is delicious, and the museum always has something inspiring and unexpected. The view of Columbus Circle and Central Park can’t be beat.