Office 229, Ahad Ha’am, 2nd Floor
Members: Ayala Maromi-Keynan, Uri Keynan
Founded: December 2015
Ayala and Uri have been together for 15 years. They have two kids, and for the last year they’ve been working on their new baby O-cercle. Seems like they are the perfect match, marriage wise, and not less important – business wise. Ayala is a Fashion Designer and Uri is an Industrial Engineer. “Ayala is in charge of the vision, and I’m in charge of the executive part”. Says Uri.
As the great team they are, they’ve created a unique platform for fashion designers, aimed to connect to his clientele in a better way. O-cercle’s platform offers fashion designers a place to offer their next collection to their clientele and ask them for funding in order to manufacture it. “The clients get to help the designer they love, make his new collection”, says Ayala, “that way, a new connection is created between the designer and his customers, and they can feel part of his circle and community”.
O-cercle was an obvious step for Ayala, “it was my way of making my business bigger. I have 2 stores, and I have 10 years of fashion designing. I tried to think of how can I tighten the relationship with my clients and what’s my biggest asset, and the answer was clear – my clients. They come, buy a dress and leave, but what if they’ll invest in my next collection?”. Ayala turned her customers to ambassadors of her brand, and after it worked so good for her, she and her husband realized they can build a platform for all designers. So they did.
The platform works in quite a simple flow – the designer addresses his clientele, tells them he’s about to bring together a new collection, gives them a little peek to his inspiration, his fabrics and materials, and they can put a certain amount of money which will help the designer manufacture it. When the collection will come out, they will have up to double of their contribution in credit to purchase whatever they choose from it. “The collection will come out anyway”, says Ayala, “with or without them. But this way, they feel lucky, they feel involved”.
O-cercle is basically a crowdfunding platform designated to fashion designers. “We didn’t invent anything new”, says Uri, there are already all sorts of crowdfunding platforms, but we tried to keep it as simple as possible, with a small amount of features, and a low commission.
Uri and Ayala raised seed money in March this year, and not long ago the first campaigns were uploaded to the platform. “We had to design it and develop it, and at the same time recruit all the designers. We recruited designers in Israel and New York but we’re aiming to the New York, which is the fash & tech capital.
Although you don’t want to mix business and pleasure, it seems Ayala and Uri are doing it not bad at all (with the help of their office at Mindspace). “Working together can be fun and annoying. One of the reasons we rent an office at Mindspace is because that in our living room, it was hard to know when to go back from co-founders to just being us. We also get to see other people, there’s a very positive work atmosphere which in a lot of placed dosen’t exist. Everybody’s is nice, opens the door for us and smiles to us”.
Uri and Ayala told us that there is a huge plus to having your partner as your co-founder. “Sometimes you partner with people you know for two months who you met at college, we are much more stable than that, our marriage is a huge advantage in this aspect.
One tip for a starting entrepreneur?
Don’t think you’re smart. Don’t be afraid to ask…but be tactful. Dare to ask and maybe you’ll get a yes.