10 Questions with Chubi Nwagbara (WG’13)
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Describe TheVane in one sentence.
TheVane helps people pack everything they need for trips, choose what to wear everyday, and shop what’s missing.
What was your original source of inspiration that led you to co-found TheVane?
As a former management consultant, the Sunday evening packing ritual was always a painful experience, and I wished there was some service out there that told me what I needed to pack based on where I was going that week.
In your opinion, what impact have Instagram and Pinterest had on the world of fashion?
An additional presence where fashion brands need to be. It has also given a level playing field to smaller fashion brands who do not have the same marketing spend as the big brands for traditional media such as television and magazines.
Does building an app around fashion present any hurdles when targeting both a male and female audience?
Not really. TheVane targets both female and male audiences because we focus on the “practical” aspects of fashion such as making sure you have everything you need for your travels and for daily inspiration when you are deciding what to wear.
How do you think mobile might further disrupt the retail industry in the next 5 years?
Mobile will become the biggest medium to reach end consumers leading to a change in business models and structures in the industry. We are already witnessing the shift. For example, Instagram is a mobile product, and retailers need to have a presence on Instagram.
What company milestones does TheVane hope to achieve in the next 6 to 12 months?
Grow to 1 million users and successfully implement our subscription business model.
With what brands is TheVane currently collaborating or would like to partner with in the near future?
TheVane is collaborating with a few brands already, but some of the brands we would like to collaborate with in the near future are travel brands like American Express, Kayak, Starwood, as well as fashion brands like lululemon, Burberry, The North Face, etc. Fashion brands who have travel and weather in their DNA.
What characteristics of TheVane do you believe will make it a success?
It is simply a helpful product, by reducing the time it takes to make decisions. It is mobile friendly and also content driven, allowing room for customization, which I think is important.
How did your time and studies at Penn prepare you to launch a tech startup?
I took entrepreneurship classes, met other successful entrepreneurs that are Penn alums, and leveraged the Wharton pedigree in convincing my technical co-founder to join.
What one piece of advice would you share with Penn alumni who aspire to be entrepreneurs?
Give yourself some time to make it work. It does not happen overnight.
Chubi Nwagbara was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and has lived in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Chubi is the youngest child in a family of 7. Prior to getting his MBA at Wharton, Chubi was in management consulting, where he did a lot of post-merger integration work, most recently at Accenture, before leaving to go to business school. Chubi loves technology, soccer, travel, style, and anything sweet!