Great story on two Babson MBA’s and their search for the perfect fitting bra. Xconomy’s Erin Kurtz highlights Derek Ohly’s experiences from MBA student to holder of a “Phd in Bras” (his words).
“Bra guy” is a relatively new gig for Ohly, dating back to about 2004, when his MBA classmate and now Zyrra co-founder Christi Andersen mentioned that there was a pervasive problem with bra fit. So Ohly, who says he was overwhelmed by the number of women sharing Andersen’s gripes, set out in the bra business. He started by taking a sewing class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.
“I said, ‘I’m here to learn how to make bras.’ It was a good moment,” he says, noting that he was the only guy in the class. The group of women responded, “Sign me up,” when he explained his aim to make better-fitting bras—early market validation for the company’s product, he says.
Zyrra incorporated in late 2004 and spent a few years designing, prototyping, and building the bra models and the sizing system to plug into the CAD platform in order to design them in a more individualized way, and came out with its first bra model around 2007. The startup worked out of office space in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood before moving to MassChallenge for the accelerator and business plan competition phase this summer.
The company is about to close a $500,000 – $700,000 round of angel financing. Zyrra has been fortunate to make use of the campus — including interactions with diverse students, use of a venture accelerator, and participation on business plan contests (MassChallenge).
Zyrra has an interesting business model – using computer design and also custom fitting parties (like Tupperware). Notice how long the company has been around. Persistence is a requirement in entrepreneurship.
Its amazing how much entrepreneurial action is taking place on campus these days. From biotech and software startups to performance t-shirt and great fitting lingerie, the Campus Frontier is open to all willing to take the challenge.