A startup getting it right: from the team and tech to the tops and tails

Aarhus fashion portal growing rapidly and ready to take on the rest of Scandinavia

E-commerce is booming across the EU, and Denmark is a particularly big market. The 2014 startup Katoni caters to fashion-conscious Danish consumers that prefer clicking to queuing – with promising results. Katoni.dk is an online fashion portal that features products from a wide range of retailers and makes a commission when visitors purchase through the site.

A flying start
The business, which is Aarhus-based, is a collaboration between Steen Christensen, who came to the project as CEO with ten years of experience working with IT in e-commerce, and the brothers Jacob and Simon Møller, who  founded and run the successful mobile gaming company Kiloo.

Christensen describes the formation of the company as an accelerated process. “Jacob and Simon are old friends,” he explained.

“We had a conversation about doing something together, and three months later I’d quit my job and was working on Katoni.”

Focus on fashion
Christensen explained that the decision to focus on the fashion industry was the result of extensive market research. “Fashion is one of the fastest-growing branches of e-commerce, and there are particularly good market conditions in Denmark,” he said.

“Retailers offer free returns so people can order clothes, and if they’re the wrong size or style, they can just be sent back. This is good for the shops too because often people order several items, planning to keep just one, but end up keeping more when they see them at home.”

Offering unique ranges
The company aims to attract customers by offering a unique range of products and technical features that others don’t. Britt Jakobsen joined the team as marketing manager and brought with her fashion industry experience.
Christensen explained that the approach to the product offering is to work with a diverse range of retailers. “We want to work with a lot of local shops as well as the biggest online giants,” he said.

“We want to have a unique selection including the big brands as well as niche products from smaller shops. In time you’ll find clothes and shoes on katoni.dk that you can’t find on the sites of our competitors.”

International workplace
When it comes to the technical capabilities of the service, Christensen outlined the aim of offering advanced tools to help customers find exactly the products they’re looking for. “We want to have features for sorting and filtering  products that others don’t have,” he said.

“We can see from Google what people are searching for, so if a lot of people start searching for a type of product, we should have a category for it.”

Since opening its virtual doors during the summer of last year, the business has been growing dramatically – sales have increased by more than 450 percent in the past six months. The company is looking for a programmer to help implement some of the planned developments (see listing here).

“We’re looking for a programmer who specialises in PHP with at least two years’ experience,” Christensen said.

“We’d really like to hear from international applicants. Our sister company Kiloo has 16 nationalities and we like the different perspectives you get from working with people from other cultures.”

Scaling and spreading
Input from other cultures will also be important for the next stage of Katoni’s plan: opening operations outside of Denmark.

“So far we have concentrated on getting it right in Denmark,” Christensen said. “But in 2015 we will open in Sweden and Norway.”

Christensen also hints that getting it right with clothes might just lead to diversifying in the future.

“Right now we’re just focusing on fashion,” he said. “But the model could be applied to all sorts of industries.”

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