2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Tylmen Tech, Washington University (Olin)     

Tylmen Tech     

Washington University, Olin Business School

Industry: Fashion technology

Founding Student Name(s): Lloyd Yates

Brief Description of Solution: Tylmen is a marketplace for customers and apparel brands to connect over common sizing using virtual sizing technology. Every time a customer shops on our platform and searches for clothes, they automatically get paired with items that fit them best, based on their custom sizing profile which is stored with us. No more guessing while shopping online, consumers can shop with confidence while brands can reduce returns and acquire new customers.

Funding Dollars:  Self-funded/bootstrapped

What led you to launch this venture? I started Tylmen in college, as a scholarship quarterback on Northwestern’s football team. I was bestowed a couple hundred neckties from my dad and started selling those ties around campus and was known as the tie guy. That was the genesis of Tylmen. which led to a natural path of manufacturing suits in which we used virtual sizing technology to establish a better fit. Around that time, a year ago, we noticed that we were really solving sizing issues that retailers face all around the world through returns. Since then, we made a full transition to focus solely on software and reducing the yearly $200 billion in revenue lost that clothing brands face due to apparel returns and the challenges of ecommerce.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? The St. Louis Business Journal recognized me on their Innovators Under 25 list this fall. My everyday focus is on helping shoppers make better decisions online, while brands benefit from reduced return rates and new customers. So, for me, it’s inspiring to see others recognize the value that Tylmen is bringing to the community, to the fashion industry and the entire startup ecosystem.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? WashU Olin’s MBA program and the WashU/St. Louis greater community has significantly contributed to the acceleration of Tylmen Tech. The people in STL embrace their own like I’ve never seen and place you in a position to succeed. Here at Olin, I also met my partner and CTO. If it was not for my professors and mentors, I’m afraid we may have missed the bigger picture at hand. Their passion, involvement and contributions to the work that myself and my entrepreneurship classmates are doing is unmatched.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you?  My dad. He’s a white-collar guy with a blue-collar mindset. This mindset has enabled such an amazing evolution with him as a business owner and how he’s provided for his team and employees, which serves as daily inspiration for me. Through him, I’ve always known that entrepreneurship is like war, but having my dad to support me along the way has been invaluable and galvanizing. He continually pushes me to limits I am afraid of and making me stronger. Because of him, there’s no turning back. I’m like the pig in eggs and bacon: I’m committed.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? We have a class called the Hatchery. It’s a class where students come in on the first day and pitch a business, form teams, and work to launch that business by the end of the semester. I pitched Tylmen, the brand that makes custom suits from an electric van and left the class with Tylmen Tech, a marketplace for online shoppers to discover clothes and brands through common sizing. This transition is evidence to how WashU places tremendous value on the fundamentals of business, supply and demand, and how demand starts with a problem. Before, we were not clear on the problem we were solving. Now, the problem we’re solving is evident and is something retailers and shoppers are actively looking for solutions. There’s no surprise that we’re the number one business school for entrepreneurship.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why?

Doug Villhard opened his network to me before I even stepped foot on campus, and he has been pushing me to new boundaries with my business ever since. His door has always been open, and he’s willing be a resource however he can. He has set a high precedent for faculty, guests and students within the WashU community.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Tylmen’s long-term goal is to be the number one platform for shopping on the internet. Imagine shopping online and never having to choose your size, where only the items displayed to you are in stock and in your size, and you can virtually try on clothes with great precision and detail. That’s what we’re doing, and it stretches far beyond clothing.


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