Startup Stories: Anthony Kwok, Co-Founder & CEO at ZILIO

Anthony Kwok, CEO & Co-Founder of ZILIO, shares his startup journey of embracing discomfort and overcoming challenges to launch their solution into their first client’s online store.

by hao-nguyen on February 7, 2023

In this edition of The Nudge Group’s Startup Stories, we sit down with Anthony Kwok, CEO & Co-Founder of ZILIO, a FashionTech company that aims to simplify the online shopping experience for consumers by offering a Virtual Fitting Room plugin.

Anthony shares how his journey as a professional fighter taught him to embrace discomfort and apply the same principles to his entrepreneurial journey. He also reflects on the challenges he faced in the past year, including the daunting task of developing a commercially viable solution for ZILIO with limited resources and an ever-shortening runway.

Are you looking for a global startup or scaleup recruitment agency? We can help connect you with world class talent around the globe, get in touch with us today!

Hey Anthony, great to be chatting with you again. For those who may not know, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and ZILIO?

Hey Hao, thanks for having me back! 

I’m Anthony, the CEO & Co-Founder of ZILIO, a FashionTech startup solving online shopping’s confusion around garment sizing and fit by offering a Virtual Fitting Room plugin to fashion eCommerce stores.

Last year, ZILIO won 12 months of office space at CreativeCubes.Co from a pitching competition. A big congratulations to you and the team! What do you think the impact will be for you and the team working out of a co-working space with other founders and entrepreneurs?

Winning office space for ZILIO was a serious game-changer for us.

Before winning office space, we often found it hard to communicate and work together productively as a team. For a startup company whose main goal is to innovate and problem-solve, this seriously hindered our ability to do that. 

Now that we’re working together in an office, tackling even the trickiest of tasks is a breeze. There’s just a different type of energy about being next to each other, working as a unit towards the same goals. 

This also goes the same for working alongside other driven and motivated individuals at Creative Cubes. It really inspires you to do and be better. Coming from a competitive sports background, I think of it as being in an arena with other top-tier athletes, with people who are great at what they do and who push you to rise up to the next level. This really has been a game-changer for our team.

Prior to launching ZILIO, you spent a lot of time competing in Muay Thai and kickboxing. I’d be interested to know how the discipline and training required for those sports has translated over to running a startup? 

As a young boy who was always picked on and lived life fearfully, becoming a professional fighter has taught me to embrace discomfort. The journey of becoming a fighter showed me that on the other side of discomfort is growth in becoming a person capable of extraordinary things.

This insight from my fight career has been the key to success for me in the business. Being a first-time founder, I walked into the business world inexperienced and, quite frankly, not a person capable of building and running a large successful business as CEO. What I did have was the ability to embrace discomfort and adversity in order to grow into that person. It’s a process I fell in love with when becoming a professional fighter, and it’s the same process I’m in love with now in becoming the best entrepreneur and leader for ZILIO that I can be.

What do you think has been your biggest challenge as a CEO over the past 12 months running a startup? 

I’d say my biggest challenge of the year was aiding our CTO and Co-Founder, Mike, with the insanely challenging task of developing a commercially viable solution to launch into online stores with, while dealing with an ever-shortening runway. 

We’d already built working prototypes and demos to gather early-stage proof points, and the plan was to raise Seed Funding from this so that we could hire a strong tech team to develop the commercial-grade solution. Unfortunately, investors wanted to see a product in market before investing, turning our plan into a ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario.

As a result, we decided to abandon our Seed Raise and have our CTO attempt to build it all by himself. At the time, our resources were also running low, so we decided to take all the founders off salaries except for our CTO to give him just enough resources and time to pull off the task.

It was a hell of a mission, but after some delays and a tonne of grit shown by Mike, we ended up pulling it off. We’re now very close to the completion of our development and will be launching ZILIO’s Virtual Fitting Room plugin into the online store of our first client soon!

If you were looking to hire new team members to join ZILIO, what do you think the company’s biggest selling point would be? 

We’re saving the world by making everyone look good with nice fitting clothes, so do you want to save the world or not?!

I’m just kidding.

Honestly, I’d say that we’ve got an awesome team dynamic. We work hard, and we play hard. We care and look out for one another, and strive to bring out the best in each other. What’s not to love?

One last question before we let you go, what’s next on the horizon for ZILIO? Where do you see the company in the next few years? 

The confusion around garment sizing in online shopping is the biggest friction point for all shoppers around the world. So much so that many avoid shopping online because of this. 

I see ZILIO bridging this disconnect between online retailers and shoppers and eventually evolving into a solution able to assist shoppers in their online shopping journey, providing an experience that’s just as good as shopping in stores, if not better.

Are you looking for a global startup or scaleup recruitment agency? We can help connect you with world class talent around the globe, get in touch with us today!

Interested in finding out
more about The Nudge

Find out more about how we work and how we can help you grow your business.