The first time I saw how popular Morphsuits were, was when a friend went on holiday to Tenerife a few years ago. On one of their nights-out, Wak and his friends all dressed in the Black Tuxedo MorphSuit.
Gauging by the photos, many of which included groups of random people in them, Wak and his tuxedo Morphsuit wearing buddies were a huge hit. Their experience, I would learn, would mirror the original inspiration behind Morphsuits as shared by Gregor Lawson, co-founder of MorphCostumes, at our Startup Grind Edinburgh event on the 27th April.
The story goes, Gregor, Fraser and Ali attended an ‘athletics’ (read drinking) competition night-out. The theme - ‘wear one colour’. Despite Gregor’s best attempts at dressing in yellow from head to toe (literally), he was outshined by his friend who was dressed in a blue one piece fetish suit.
Maybe it was the fact everyone kept coming up to him to buy him a drink.
Maybe it was the cartwheels.
Maybe it was the kebab someone bought for the fetish suit wearing gent.
Whatever it was, it sparked an idea in Gregor, Fraser and Ali’s mind. Morphsuits was born.
As a start-up, turning over £1 million in revenue in your first year is no mean-feat. Morphsuits, achieved that. Balancing everything from finding a suitable international supplier (they used Alibaba and found someone in China), building the first version of their eCommerce website for $700 (they used 99Designs), to fulfilling all the orders themselves (they used their local Post Office and Royal Mail).
Around that time Facebook had become THE social media destination. On Sunday mornings, it wasn’t uncommon for ones’ news feed to be filled with snaps from the previous nights’ shenanigans. Social media helped. Smartphones helped. Tagging friends in pictures helped. Morphsuits were perfectly placed to leverage this, resulting in close to 1.4 million likes on their official Facebook page.
Imitation is the best form of flattery … or is it?
With phenomenal success came copy cats and whilst some may say imitation is the best form of flattery, not when it jeopardises your business. “We had 16 year olds creating poor versions of them in their bedrooms”, said Gregor. Licensing deals with Marvel followed, creating Spiderman, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America and Power Rangers Morphsuits.
What’s next? Going after the $4 billion market by leveraging technology
To go after the $4 billion fancy dress costume market, they decided a slight name change was in order. Morphsuits morphed into MorphCostumes. Providing everything from Tetris suits, to more general fancy dress costumes. MorphCostumes provides it all. Perhaps the most exciting advancement for MorphCostumes is their use of technology, specifically apps with augmented reality. Gregor gave us a demo, watch the demo video below to see the Iron Man Morphsuit in action. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDHUev2EJtM]
Three Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs
We ask each guest speaker to share three pieces of advice. Here are Gregors’:
- Focus – don’t be distracted. Focus on building your business
- Scale it till you die – nail it, then scale it no matter what
- Form a team – no man or woman is an island. Form a team of people to accompany you on your journey
What attendees had to say about the event Nicolle Sinclair | Procurement and Supply Chain Specialist | Eden Scott Over the recent months, the Scottish export markets have been heavily featured in the press. We have watched companies like MorphCostumes harness the export market for exponential growth. Gregor Lawson from MorphCostumes took part in the latest Startup Grind seminar to highlight how three successful professionals who worked for multi-national conglomerates went to start MorphCostumes in their ‘spare time’ to fund a skiing holiday. It was great to hear how the idea stemmed from a fancy dress party in Dublin to a multi-million pound business that has a presence in every market across the world. It certainly wasn’t an easy journey for Gregor and his colleagues, Ali and Fraser, who spent every night for a year working on their side project until 2am to turn this alcohol fuelled idea into a successful business. Gregor spoke about the importance of your personal and professional network, as the age old saying dictates “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” A lot of MorphCostumes production was done through trust in the beginning, finding the right supplier through Skype and building professional relationships with suppliers. After the event it was great to speak with Gregor directly to ask questions about his inspirational story and play with some of the fun props he brought along to showcase his product portfolio. Eden Scott is committed to supporting Scotland’s start-up community. The Startup Grind events allows Entrepreneurs to expand their professional network and brain storm business ideas, with like-minded individuals.
— Harper Macleod LLP (@HarperMacleod) April 28, 2015
Like a boss @HelloPhin! K https://t.co/UCkN7eNwxC — Kallum With a K (@KallumRussell) April 28, 2015
Candid talk from @GregorMorph about growing a business in the digital age. @StartupGrindSco event last night. pic.twitter.com/4DRaT10JX2 — Appointedd (@appointedd) April 28, 2015
3 tips for #Entrepreneurs from @GregorMorph: "Focus, when something works scale it until you die, involve other people..." @StartupGrindSCO — Megan (@ESMeganIT) April 27, 2015
— Lisa Thomson (@LisaA_HR) April 27, 2015
@GregorMorph showing off 'naked man morph suit' @StartupGrindSCO. pic.twitter.com/3nZOi0QRhh — Lynsey Brownlow (@Lynsey_Brownlow) April 27, 2015
— Katy Conlan (@KatyC_MF) April 27, 2015