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Startacus Chats to Romanna Bint-Abubaker from Modlist

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by Startacus Admin

We chat to Romanna from ModlistStartacus Chats to Romanna Bint-Abubaker from ModlistWe chat to Romanna from Modlist

A few weeks ago the Startacus team played host to a pitch battle ‘upSTART Belfast’ in which 27 tech-focussed startups presented their business to a panel of 10 investors and industry leaders in the hope of winning a treasure trove of prizes valued at £50K.

All fought valiantly, but none quite so much as Romanna Bint-Abubaker of Modlist, who wowed the judges with 2 highly polished, passionate, and well-informed pitches that won her the top spot.

Modlist is a new online discovery engine for people in search of modest fashions. It sounds very simple, but is actually devilishly complicated and impressive.  Currently operating as Haute Elan, this global shopping destination will be relaunching as Modlist and will combine AI, neural mapping, and smart personalisation to revolutionalise the shopping experience.

The team have just announced a $1M investment in the business, which should help accelerate them onto the global retail stage.  

We caught up with Romanna a few days after her win, to gather some of her thoughts on her experience, and to find out the big plans for modlist moving forward.

Describe your experience of the upSTART pitch battle

The judging panel was excellent, so well put together, a brilliant range of global judges - probably one of the best judging panels I have seen and I have pitched a lot! :)

The event was superbly organised, the venue and surrounding activities were excellent and very helpful for a start-up. I was also very impressed with the quality of candidates was really high and the management/ organisation great.

How did it feel to be named the winning Startup?

Incredible. Honestly it was a little surreal especially given the quality of the last 5 teams, I really wasn’t sure that we would be called! The crowd was fantastic and I felt like I had my dear ones around me as it was a really special day!

We chat to Romanna from ModlistWhat will the prizes bring to your business in the coming months?

Incredible and very relevant support for a startup! Many of these services are key in these coming days and they can be really expensive so a big help to ensure we’re not compromising on quality and having the best support we require to take the business forward.

In my roadmap, the US has been really key so the opportunity to go out to LA with the Wonka Lab is extremely relevant and timely. I hope that we will be in a position to make the most out of the opportunity and grow our presence in the US. Other support from marketing to strategy consulting is also extremely valuable for us and i’m looking forward to using these services.

What’s next for Modlist?

A big marketing drive to let the world know we exist. We want to push out to our core markets to ensure everyone sees or hears about MODLIST and of course a big hiring drive to get our key hires in ensuring we can deliver according to the demand we hope to create.

As a London based entrepreneur, what was your experience of Belfast?

Belfast is just such a wonderful city of warmth, hospitality, character, positivity and ambition. This was by far one of the best tech events I had attended, the quality of the exhibitors and support from the government for tech companies in NI is inspiring - I do almost feel I would consider moving our company to NI!

I can vouch for the hospitality first hand - having arrived to discover that the hotels were all full and over-booked I had to find somewhere to stay at 11pm the night before the event. As you can imagine this could have been a disaster (and yes I even tried all the Airbnb flats but they were also full!). So I decided to look up the local mosque - assuming this would be the safest place given it’s Ramadan and there would be people praying all night, so I went along to the local mosque where a lovely lady insisted that I could not stay alone and offered me to stay at her home the night and even drop me to the venue in the morning! It was a superb example of what I have come to know and love as the wonderful hospitality of Belfast!

Thanks for the chat Romana, and best of luck with, we look forward to hearing more from you in the months ahead!

If you missed taking part in upSTART Belfast but would like to keep up to date with future Pitch opportunities sign-up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter for application updates.

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Published on: 20th June 2016

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