As part of out Founder Lessons series, we recently talked to fashion affiliates company, STYLIGHT.

Every day STYLIGHT features a curated selection of the latest trends, fresh fashion inspiration, and new products from the hottest fashion shops and boutiques online, on one website.

STYLIGHT started out as a university project between four peers that has grown to an international company operating in 19 countries and employing 160 people. We interviewed Benjamin Gunter, one of the founders and CEO of STYLIGHT about how the business got started and what he’s learnt along the way.

Why and how did you start STYLIGHT?

We started STYLIGHT seven years ago because we saw a major gap in the online fashion market. We wanted to be able to search for the perfect item quickly and easily across multiple stores and websites online.

What have the biggest success factors been for STYLIGHT?

For me it’s still exciting that we started with nothing but four laptops and built a product that millions are using every month.

Since the founding year in 2008, STYLIGHT has shown great potential and steady growth over the following years. In 2014 we experienced the turning point, when our team grew dramatically from 57 employees to 130, and growing even more to 150 employees in 2015.

Our strategy of success is clearly working and one of the reasons is the team behind it all. Young, creative change-makers and innovation believers, the STYLIGHT team is almost completely under 35 years old.

You might think that a fashion e-commerce company would only have girl fashionistas in its team, but we’re about to dispel that stereotype. You might be surprised to learn that STYLIGHT’s team is completely diverse and consists of the creative hearts (32%), the girls and guys who are true logical skeletons (44.9%) and those, whose strategic mindset adds a secret note to the overall team structure (23.1%).

But what makes such a diverse group of people stick to one another? The answer is simple: complementary skills, appreciation and a common goal. Our 4 founders are a perfect example of this – 2 of them are tech geeks and 2 business strategists, who have united to create one of the world’s leading fashion online platforms. But most importantly it’s the chemistry behind the team, that results, not only in sharing, but also in open-minded behaviour, and openness for new cross-culture learning.

Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?

For us it’s definitely the team. I founded the company with three of my best friends, everybody with different backgrounds from computer science to business. We complement each other both from an educational and personal perspective.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced launching and running the company?

There were thousands; one negative highlight was the perception of entrepreneurship seven years ago. Even after two years running the company with around 20-30 employees, people were still asking us whether we were still pursuing “this project STYLIGHT” or if we’ve finally found a real job! But I think that has changed a lot in the recent years.

What are the most important lessons learned over the years?

We’re still learning new things every day and we designed our organisation that way. Right now, with around 160 people, we really see how important corporate culture and communication is above all else.

Below is a breakdown of STYLIGHT’s business growth over the last 5 years and the employee profiles that have made this possible.

stylight growth stylight team dynamics stylight gebder and age