Miguelo Romano is pioneering the fusion of designer men’s clothing and state-of-the-art wearable technology. The line sees fashion and clothing as the next paradigm in the evolution of technology which enhances our daily lifestyle.
What does it do?
Miguelo Romano is the world’s first urban-style clothing brand that interlaces fashion with state-of-the-art, blade-resistant, and anti-ballistics fabrics, seeking to offer unprecedented protection against these types of attacks.
We believe that wearable technology should not start and end with smart chips in watches and other accessories. Our El Duke and Armored collections of stylish Hoodies and Polo shirts use innovative interlaced fabric with ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibres that keep the clothing lightweight yet effective against blade attacks and firearms.
Who is your business aimed at?
Our products were inspired by the streets of Brooklyn, New York and Medellin, Colombia and are targeting urban gentlemen who value the confluence of fashion and cutting edge technology. Our consumers are individuals that desire both quality urban clothing, and the unprecedented protection that is provided by the innovative fabrics and technology within them.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Míguelo Romano is the world’s first and only provider of blade and bullet resistant consumer clothing that is fashionable and lightweight. While prior attempts at these products by other brands have relied on Kevlar-based designs and plated inserts, the unique fabrics and technology within our clothing intend to bring unprecedented protection to consumers who do not want to sacrifice style for security.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
This new blade-resistant line comes from our own personal experiences in both the fashion industry and the dangerous reality faced by many people in cities across the world.
Neil Gallagher, our lead designer and head of creative design, was himself attacked 15 years ago on the streets of Philadelphia. He later recalled the attack while sitting outside a Brooklyn nightclub and seeing the bouncer’s thick protective vests. From this point, Gallagher began developing the idea to combine safety with a lightweight and fashionable fabric that would allow its users to move freely and pass their time more comfortably.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Our intention in launching Míguelo Romano is to save lives, and the safety of our customers is our paramount concern. Before going to market with our products, extensive testing was necessary to ensure the maximum level of protection while still maintaining wearability and style.
When we were adequately convinced that this goal was achievable, our secondary concern was that the clothing might embolden consumers to act out of the ordinary, engage in a fight that they would have otherwise avoided, or walk the streets with a sense of invulnerability.
It’s critical to us that our consumers understand that the clothing is defensive, not offensive, and we heavily emphasize that in our marketing campaigns, with the musical artists that we support, and through our charitable works. We stand firmly by community leaders in urban communities worldwide that deal with violence on a regular basis. Míguelo Romano represents that culture of peace and respect that time and again has been demonstrated as the best avenue to help urban communities to escape cycles of violence and drugs.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I am an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, and I built my career by assisting early-stage companies develop innovative products and bringing them quickly to market. I lead an international private equity group, GITP Ventures, which is a high tech venture fund investing in Latin America. My interests span various industries, including technology, fashion and media, with the commonality being that the companies are innovative, scalable and global. I also have a passion for education and am involved in several ongoing charitable efforts aimed at improving the quality of life in Latin America through technology in the classroom.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
We have been thrilled and humbled by the reception of our products in the community, and our presence at Colombia’s premier fashion event immediately attracted international press coverage including NBC News and VICE.
In a sense, with our products not hitting the market until December 2014, the press coverage was unexpected and too early. However, the amount of enthusiasm that we have been fortunate enough to generate demonstrates a genuine need in the marketplace and we feel privileged to be first-to-market with our product concept.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
Miguelo Romano was founded in March 2014 by Leo Arango, Neil Gallagher and I. Leo Arango is a lawyer and community leader, and also the founder of multiple hip hop schools. Neil Gallagher is Miguelo Romano’s Creative Director, and has previously worked for top brands including Diesel, Michael Kors and Lucky Brand.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
We began our campaign in July 2014 with a fashion show in Medellin, Colombia, and hoped to have our clothing ready for the consumer market shortly thereafter. However, security is our most important concern and the testing cycle of our products resulted in a six month go-to-market delay. While that delay was frustrating to both our corporate team and our customers, we are steadfast in our commitment to only release our product when it is proven to be flawless in design and performance.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
Though our initial launch is targeted towards men, in 2015 we intend to offer a line of clothing for women as well. We hope to expand our marketplace in 2015 beyond the United States and Colombia, into countries such as Mexico, Chile and Brazil, serving both men and women.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
We began marketing too early with Míguelo Romano and many of those visits to our web site and the early press coverage may have been squandered. My advice to founders: be prepared to be successful. Have adequate capacity on your web site, collect email addresses, and build an immediate connection with your future customer base.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
My investment company, GITP Ventures, has made 12 investments over the past three years with four successful portfolio exits during that time. The successful companies in our portfolio span industries and business models but all have one thing in common, a strong understanding of their cost to acquire customers and the value of each acquired customer.
Having good customer data is essential. Once a business adequately understands the cost to acquire and the value to acquire, the business can be grown quickly with investment.