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Founder Friday with Sarah Neill: creating an online fashion community for women

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Founder Friday with Sarah Neill: creating an online fashion community for women

For many women, one of the most exhausting aspects of the online shopping experience remains sizing. Despite efforts to double-check sizing charts, it can be hard to find the right fit. What if the pants are too long? What if the top is too large? What if the t-shirt doesn’t sit right?

Fashion tech app Mys Tyler was born to help women find clothes they love while also reducing the environmental impact of constant returns.

“I don’t enjoy shopping or reading fashion magazines,” admitted founder Sarah Neill. “I don’t enjoy the process of dressing up, but of course, I have to get ready every day, and I feel better when I like what I wear.  Living in New York at the time where everyone around me was so fashionable, while I was wearing the same jeans with a t-shirt every day, I knew I needed to up my game.”

She reached out to a fashion-forward friend to take her shopping but quickly learned the stylish outfits that suited her friend’s physique didn’t necessarily fit her.

And so, back in 2014, the idea for an app to browse through fashion by users of similar sizes was sparked.

To date, Mys Tyler has raised $2 million from a mix of local and global investors, including institutional investors Mirvac Ventures, Antler, and notable angels, including Brian Hartzer (former CEO of Westpac.) It has over 200,000 body profiles on the app and more than 1,200 creators.

Of course, Mys Tyler wasn’t Sarah’s first foray into app development.

“My first app was called ‘Weather Than’, which shows you today’s and yesterday’s temperature. It tells you if it’s warmer or cooler to make the weather relative, and it would do it in a fun way, like ‘it’s colder than an investment banker’s divorce’ or ‘hotter than your mum’s new boyfriend’,” she said.

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“Then I built another app and another app, and I started doing all these side-hustles along with my work in the world of telecommunications.”

By 2020, Sarah had acquired a wealth of experience in the marketing departments of companies like Boost Mobile, Ultra Mobile, and Mint Mobile.

She elaborated, “It shouldn’t matter what you are marketing; your job is to understand your consumers and their problems. To understand what they’re trying to achieve. So on the agency side, it’s more creative and about showing them how you’re solving their problem. But on the client side, you can suggest changes to the product to improve it. In that way, I found myself starting to innovate within businesses.”

Source: supplied

Launching Mys Tyler

Sarah returned to Sydney just before the pandemic in 2020, and joined accelerator program Antler Global to begin working full-time on Mys Tyler.

She came to the table with two clear trends she’d noticed in the market.

“When I was at Mint Mobile, the last company I was at, I got to observe how powerful affiliate marketing was,” Sarah said. “In the old days, you would see these crappy banner ads to sell products. But now, affiliate marketing is a great low-risk, scalable option.”

So when users find clothes they like and follow the online links to purchase them through the app, Mys Tyler is able to take a small commission.

She also wanted to incorporate the rise of micro-influencers into the app.

“We’re seeing this shifting pattern from macro-influencers to micro-influencers on social media. Users gravitate to them because they seem more authentic and engaging and would actually respond to your messages.”

By recruiting them as creators, Mys Tyler could match users’ body data with them for fashion inspiration so that women can see similar-sized women in various outfits.

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Not only did this approach showcase different styles for users to try out, but it also addressed high return rates for fashion retailers that cost the industry a fortune and cause environmental harm.

“It felt like a huge inefficiency,” Sarah noted. “You can’t solve this with size because height, body shape, and other factors matter. So by matching your profile with other women of similar measurements, Mys Tyler lets you see how the clothes look with a better guarantee that they’ll fit you.”

READ MORE: Eight inspiring women entrepreneurs share their secret to being successful in 2022

sarah neill
Photo by: Gregory Beltre

Inspiring and supporting women

“In the first email received once we launched, a woman said to me, ‘Thank you, Mys Tyler. I felt fat and ugly almost my entire life, and now, at the age of 76, I feel human’,” Sarah recalled. “It was such a lovely message – and I was pleasantly surprised that a 76-year-old managed to find our app!

“It’s incredible to think that these women have not been represented in fashion for so long. They don’t feel like they fit in when they’re quite a normal size. In Australia, the average woman is a size 14 to size 16.

“Then there’s also age, helping women who are maybe 45 or 50 years old. They’re looking for fashion inspiration but also want to be age-appropriate. After all, you’re not going to wear the same clothes in your 20’s as you would in your 40’s,” Sarah noted.

“We’ve found that age is a massive one. These are women with purchasing power who want to spend but don’t know what to spend their money on.”

Now planning to expand into hair and beauty, Mys Tyler’s body data collection is proving invaluable to brands.

Sarah recalled an instance when an American bra company was able to target their leftover inventory to specific users with that cup size through a super clearance or flash sale.

“It was a great way to reach people without diluting their brand because not everyone’s seeing those ads,” she added.

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Best advice received

According to Sarah, the best advice she received came from one of the investors in her early career business who told her: ‘you need to shoot and then ready, aim.’

“It meant you need to just do something, then learn where you stand, then tinker and start building,” she explained. “You can have plans A, B, C, but it’s only when you start doing those steps that you realise there’s actually like 17 other steps involved in successfully completing one thing!

“I think women are very hard on ourselves, and that’s where we struggle to get started. We judge ourselves based on what we’ve done in the past. That’s where we place our value rather than seeing the potential.”

Successfully launching Mys Tyler to build a strong community of women remains one of Sarah’s proudest moments.

“Women have developed friendships through this network we’ve built; they’ve felt seen and represented. Sometimes when I’m having a bad day, I go back to the app to see these interactions to remember what we’ve accomplished.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Jacinta Timmins: the secrets of launching a sustainable apparel brand

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

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Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

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The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

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Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

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The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

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Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

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The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

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Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

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Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

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4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

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