Online shopping experienced a boom during the COVID pandemic. Lonely nights in lockdown triggered two students, Sakina Amin and Ishan Singh, to search for new ways to improve the online retail experience. For many, shopping in person often constitutes a social activity, however Sakina and Ishan noticed that no equivalent exists for online retail, despite the fact that interaction via social platforms is as prominent as ever. The formation of Trender, a new online shopping platform set in launch in Summer 2022, was the result, offering users the opportunity to shop together on a ‘party platform’. The platform enables shoppers to browse sustainable products from cause-owned brands including women-founded, handmade, LGBTQ and black-owned businesses. Users can add products to a friend’s basket, rate products for each other and interact with the wider shopping community. In the words of the brand’s founders: “It’s an inclusive and interactive platform, providing a full shopping experience”.
Trender is currently in the final stage of product development, with an ongoing seed round aiming to raise upwards of $500,000. The Gryphon Business Section spoke to Sakina and Ishan on the motivations behind Trender and their advice for students looking to follow suit in creating their own businesses.
What inspired you to create a business whilst studying at university?
We both had a lot of conversations that revolved around current affairs, the economy and anything that could possibly be in the news. When the pandemic hit, we started talking about the start-up scene in Silicon Valley and a recent inconvenience we had both encountered. During university, we both thought out a plan of what would be required to launch Trender and it turned out better than we thought. After a while, we both invested a lot of time and effort and voila! What came next was very unexpected, but our inspired work and interest led us to incorporate the company, start the web development and go full steam ahead.
What challenges did you face creating a business as a student?
Juggling exams, classes, multiple part-time jobs is not easy. Although unlike a problem, it was more of time management that was to be learnt as a skill. This was something both of us were more than excited to take on. While there were challenges and still are, we are both invested enough in Trender to tackle them head on and still reminisce the sleeplessness in the day. We often found ourselves running from a class to a meeting, and on one occasion we arrived at a marketing meeting with one of our vendors just a few seconds before it started!
What advice would you give to other students who would be interested in creating a business?
We think that if you’re passionate enough for something then you should just go for it. Success or failure after one point becomes meaningless because you would know in your heart that you’ve done your best. So, the best advice would be to not listen to any negativity around it, or to the people telling you it might not work.
Why is Trender relevant to students in Leeds?
Trender is not only relevant to students in Leeds but students anywhere because there is a better way to shop online and socialise with friends when shopping online. Our only hope is to propagate the idea that there is a better way to shop online, be it our platform or someone else’s in the future. It is survival of the fittest in the end!
Visit Trender’s website here.