“It is all-consuming, it takes over your entire life, your relationships, everything… it’s definitely not about sitting around eating pizza and having beer. That’s a part of it but to be honest after a certain point you’re so busy and so tired that free pizza just does not cut it.”
That is Jennie McGinn’s take on the misconceptions that people can sometimes have about what it is like to be involved in a start-up.
Jennie is the CEO of Opsh, an online shopping platform she established with her sisters, Grace and Sarah, which celebrates its first birthday this week.
Jennie wrote for Siliconrepublic.com last year about the cult of ‘wantrepreneurship’ and the wrong ideas people can sometimes have about start-ups.
“There are a lot of opportunities [for start-ups in Ireland] but it is very competitive,” said Grace McGinn, who is Head of Product at the company.
Opsh started its journey seven years ago when the sisters started the blog What Will I Wear Today. About three years ago, they then decided to seriously take up the mantle of running a start-up and took part in the NDRC’s Launchpad programme where they built out the original incarnation of Opsh, a shoppable online magazine called The Prowlster, which they then sold to Sweatshop Media.
‘After a certain point you’re so busy and so tired that free pizza just does not cut it’
— JENNIE MCGINN, OPSH
Unlike most other online shopping platforms, Opsh does not hold any stock, rather it facilitates the transaction between consumer and retailer, and allows customers to shop across multiple stores and brands on one site and using one checkout.
Opsh has experienced significant growth in the last year – growing from a team of six to 15, expanding the number of retailers on its site from four to more than 30, and growing its user base to 65,000 shoppers.
The company also expanded into the UK this year following it securing investment from Brett Palos, the stepson of fashion retail giant Sir Philip Green, along with matched funding from Enterprise Ireland.
Speaking of their success to date, Jennie said: “It’s been hard won but the response and the support in Ireland has been unbelievable.”
Siliconrepublic.com sat down with the sisters in their Leeson St office in Dublin to discuss the last year, the challenges of communicating the power of the female consumer to different audiences, and their plans for the next year.
The sisters also spoke about the realities of being women in business, and staying one step ahead of their consumers when it comes to people’s evolving online habits.
‘We found amazing people here in Dublin’
— GRACE MCGINN, OPSH
The overall plans of the company are ambitious, with the sisters’ declared intention being that Opsh will be one of the top five online shopping destinations for women globally in the next five years.
And, for now, the sisters are confident that they can plot their global domination from Dublin.
“I think Opsh HQ will always be here… I think this will always be our main base, sur’ why not?” said Sarah McGinn, who takes on the role of Head or Marketing.
“We found amazing people here in Dublin… and for us there’s so much value in the people here we don’t need to be over there [in the UK],” Grace concluded.
Watch the full interview below:
Women Invent is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Intel, Open Eir (formerly Eircom Wholesale), Fidelity Investments, Accenture and CoderDojo.