Kyle Lieberbaum has a fashion problem.
“My mother can never leave the house without the opinions of six people on what she’s wearing,” 17-year-old Lieberbaum said. “I always end up being one of the people that she asks ‘How do I look?’”
So he and three friends thought there should be an app for that.
The “How Do I Look?” smartphone app, which won second place in the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge, is the brainchild of Lieberbaum, a student at Miami Beach Senior High, and Ransom Everglades School seniors Josh Kaplan, 18, Blake Altman, 18, and Jonathan Greenwald, 18. They proposed an app that would serve as a social media community where technology users of all ages can share pictures of their outfits and receive feedback from others in real time.
Critiquing wardrobe choices, they say, would result in better dressed and self-confident people. All four students will be studying business in college and are developing their product for Android and iOS mobile devices.
“You can filter who you get your feedback from, depending on what occasion you’re dressing for,” said Greenwald, who was recently accepted to the University of Tulane and is the founder of an organization that supports diabetes research. “If you’re going to a party and aren’t sure if what you’re wearing looks okay, you can ask for clothing store managers or other people your age or gender to let you know.”
The idea for their product was also fueled by young adults around them entering the professional world but being clueless about what’s appropriate to wear.
Altman, a lacrosse player who is heading to the University of Michigan, noticed other high school students struggling to find the right outfits for job interviews and business events.
“These are the years that you want to try and look good in front of people,” he said. “It would be nice to have another person’s opinion on what you’re wearing.”
The app would include a ratings system, requiring each user to give a critique to get one back. This rule, they say, would guarantee the constant flow of interactive advice within the online community.
Opportunities for coupons would also be available — which can lead to outside clothing businesses getting involved.
“Boutiques and department stores can set up accounts by paying a monthly fee,” Altman said. “They can comment on outfits using hashtags or links to their lines of clothing and recommend it.”
This personalized advertising, he says, would be the key to drawing in revenue, through a $75 flat rate each month, from retail companies since users would already be in shopping mode.
“Our app would be a way for them to acquire new customers,” said Lieberbaum, a senior who volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He is heading off to the University of Florida.
The biggest investment, according to Kaplan, who was abroad in Israel at the time this article was written, would come from building the app itself — which would have a base cost of at least $20,000, along with other designing and service fees.
Kaplan, who is the president of the Volunteer Service Organization at Ransom, sees the app standing out because of its appeal to an image-conscious audience in a digital world where social media plays a large role.
“We become the middlemen between the everyday person and shopping retailers,” the team said in its plan, “without taking advantage of the consumer.”