2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Goldie, Rice University (Jones)


Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

Industry: Fashion Tech

Founding Student Name(s): Viviane Nguyen (FTMBA ‘23), Samantha Wong (FTMBA ‘22), Stephanie Zhou (FTMBA ‘23)

Brief Description of Solution: Goldie is an algorithm-based fit finder for women’s jeans that uses your measurements to match you with the perfect pair. Try Goldie at www.fitgoldie.com

Funding Dollars: $52,500

What led you to launch this venture? In our introductory Rice MBA entrepreneurship class, The New Enterprise, we were tasked with finding a “burning problem” to work on. We couldn’t get over the nightmare of jean shopping. Sizing within women’s clothing has always been a mess with jeans being the worst offender; you can even be four different sizes within the same brand. As we went through customer interviewing, we developed the initial idea of Goldie — a jeans fit finder that uses comprehensive measurements and product specifications to calculate the perfect fit.

Goldie emerged from the perfect combination of our co-founders’ backgrounds. Viviane Nguyen, Samantha Wong, and Stephanie Zhou merged their knowledge in business, tech and fashion. Our users, Goldie Girls, are able to get personalized jean recommendations that fit their measurements without having to read reviews, zoom into product photos or do mental gymnastics to triangulate their size.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? We won the grand prize of $52,500 in cash at the Napier Rice Launch Challenge pitch competition among over 100 other Rice University graduate and undergraduate teams. Despite some initial stumbles launching Goldie, going on to win first place in the competition was an incredible experience. It has been really validating to know what started out as a school project ended up becoming something so special. The support from the Rice Business community especially was overwhelming, and we’re glad to have them in our corner.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? The biggest challenge we faced was not pushing ourselves to experiment and test things sooner. We were waiting on doing more research or making things perfect, but especially in doing our user test, we got such great information and data we could have used sooner. In launching our MVP, we decided the product would never be as perfect as we wanted. It just needs to perform the core function of Goldie, even if it was missing features or required some manual work. Letting go of that perfectionism really helped propel Goldie.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? While classes like IP Strategy, Strategy in Tech Ecosystems, Financing the Startup Venture, and Buyer Behavior all helped give us additional context for growing a startup, the community at Rice Business was the biggest help. The Lilie Lab was a huge resource to us, and our classmates were our biggest fans. We even had classmates get involved in offering product feedback! Our first user test was hosted at Rice, where we were able to gather consumer insights and preferences, helping in the development and logic of the algorithm.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? It wasn’t necessarily anyone specific that inspired us to become entrepreneurs, but the environment at Rice, and specifically the Lilie Lab, that encouraged us to always be inquisitive and to seek answers to burning problems. We were all curious about the #1 ranked entrepreneurship program when applying to Rice, and we are proud to have deepened our own entrepreneurial journey by graduation.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? We took E-lab New Enterprise and E-lab: Accelerate to get hands-on experience working on our startup. With the curriculum, we were pushed to test assumptions. During those classes, we performed a user test experiment and launched the minimum viable product of Goldie at www.fitgoldie.com. Being in an environment where there are other startups going through similar journeys really gave us the momentum to push Goldie to the next level. The biggest lesson we learned was to stop waiting for the product to be perfect or for the perfect timing and to “just do it.” Get feedback early and often.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, has been our champion from day one when we first pitched the initial idea for Goldie in New Enterprises. From there he encouraged us to continue to develop the idea in E-lab and mentored us through the Napier Rice Launch Challenge to our first place win! We can’t thank him enough for believing in us.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? Houston has a growing startup ecosystem, and we had so much support pitching for Mercury Fund for feedback, networking with other entrepreneurs at the Ion, speaking to the Rice Women in Entrepreneurship club and Rice Alliance audience and meeting local entrepreneurship students from the University of Houston Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. The tight-knit community has really helped us spread the word about Goldie throughout Houston and beyond!

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our product vision is to develop a web app where users will be able to browse and shop jeans across different brands based on their measurements. Goldie is on a journey to create a better fit finder.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.