Steve McLay, Founder of MirrorMirror


Who are you?

I’m Steve McLay, Founder & CEO of MirrorMirror B.V. Once upon a time I was a music and style journalist before I crossed the abyss into the realms of Marketing and Brand management. Originally from Nottingham in England, I now call Amsterdam home. Throughout my career I’ve worked predominantly in fashion and specialised in digital and social media.

Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?

I was watching my partner and her friends compare potential outfits to wear for a night out and noticed that while it was helpful to call on your friends for opinions, there was no definitive answer. I’d also seen that people (particularly bloggers) were keen to share their looks on social media but were too often open to being trolled or spammed and that it was difficult to get a definitive answer. Also, in the case of Instagram, people had to use a 3rd party app to post images side-by-side. It struck me that there was a real opportunity to create a community where people could easily compare two pictures in a safe environment and get definitive results as to which their friends / followers preferred. It didn’t need to be difficult, it simply had to be ‘this’ or ‘that’.

At the time of my eureka moment I was working at another app start-up and had recently become a father so it was hard to pinch time to develop the idea at first other than at weekends and at night. Thankfully after a while I let my former boss know that I was developing an idea of my own and he was keen to support me by allowing me time to work on it one day a week. This really freed up time and things soon began to take a very real shape.

Once I’d really mapped everything out, I sniffed out suitable developers and chose Amsterdam development company Moqod (who have been a real delight to work with). I left my job and start readying everything else out for launch.

What has been your biggest failure or struggle?

As we’re in our soft launch period at the moment, I guess the biggest struggle is having such lofty ambitions and being frustrated at not having enough resources to realise them at the moment. As failures or struggles go I think there’s a lot worse, and I also think that this is probably a fairly common problem. We have been set up so we’re suitably lean, but can scale suitably when we get a dream strategic investor on-board [If you’re out there, drop me a line] in accordance to what they invest. I’ve read too many ridiculous Startup follies that seem to focus on boom or bust and invariably go bust because they’ve thought too little about the revenue model or have just thrown money at looking like a big company before they actually are one.

Actually, it was a bit of a struggle setting up the company. In the Netherlands no matter how careful you are of ticking all the boxes and doing everything in the right order, there’s always a bit of a red tape flapping behind you that you have to go back to fix. Thankfully, everything is sorted now, but it did take up valuable time sorting some things out that we thought we’d done to the letter of the law.

Oh and while MirrorMirror is a great brand name, it was initially a bit of a pain to find in the app stores due to all the cheap ‘mirror’ apps. As time, downloads and ASO progress that will become less and less of a problem.

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

We have been getting some choice bits of press and have seen some really cool bloggers from all over the world joining already though, so I think that’s what makes me most proud at this stage, as it shows that we’ve created something that people love. At the moment not that many people know about MirrorMirror but if the love for it that our current users have is an indication, then when we start to give it a bigger push we’ll be on the cusp of great things.

I genuinely think that our biggest achievements and success are just around the corner. In all honesty at this stage I think going from a concept to a downloadable app in the space of a few short months is quote an achievement in itself. Thankfully I know some incredibly talented and supportive people who have lent their talents and expertise in different ways. Particular kudos has to go to my friend Hannah Swift who was responsible for not only designing the app itself but also our kick arse logo.

What’s your must read business book?

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – a parting gift from my previous company.

Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?

I don’t really have anyone I aspire to specifically in that sense. That’s not to say I don’t have admiration for CEOs and Founders, I do now more so than ever! I’d be more inclined to say that someone like Malcolm McLaren was more inspirational to me. He was more than capable of (almost deliberately) making plenty of mistakes but at the end of the day left a legacy that bridged punk and hip hop; two of the biggest musical and cultural zeitgeists ever.

And can you tell us something weird or interesting about yourself?

Well, I certainly had my fair share of adventures and have a lot of (badly told) stories but I don’t want to sound like I’m showing off, so I’ll go for something a little more boring instead. . .

I can’t skip.