App that lets you buy clothing worn on TV lands Canadian students Hollywood deal
Nelo, a free app that allows you to buy clothing worn by actors on TV and in movies, has a tie-in with the movie Pitch Perfect 3.
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It all started with a tiger sweater worn by James Franco.
Two years ago, University of Alberta student Hammad Jutt, 22, was watching The Interview, a 2014 film about two reporters who travel to North Korea, but all he could focus on was the actor's clothing.
“Franco had a tiger print sweater on, and I really wanted that sweater," he said. "I went online to find it and it took me about two to three hours to actually find what it was and even then when I went to the website, it was sold out."
Jutt and his partners, fellow students Qasim Rasi, 38, and Pavlo Malynin, 21, realized this was an untapped market.
Nelo, their free app that allows you to buy clothing worn by actors on TV and in movies, was born.
Since then, the group has gone from working in an unfinished basement to partnering with Hollywood hits, including a recent tie-in with the movie Pitch Perfect 3.
In addition to selling clothing from the hit musical, Nelo also partners with costume designers from 30 TV shows like Suits, The Mindy Project and Mad Men to make clothing worn by actors accessible at the tap of a screen.
The trio met as students at the U of A in 2013. Jutt knew Malynin from one of his computer engineering classes, and then met Rasi after showing up at the university’s entrepreneurship hub to grab some free pizza.
Being from Edmonton, Jutt said it took them time to make in-roads with industry leaders in California. So they rented a small office in Beverly Hills and put the address in their email signature, which led to more call-backs and requests to meet.
“When they see the Beverly Hills address, I think it de-risks them right? Like ‘oh, these guys are just our neighbours, it’s not like some weird alien from Canada,’” he joked.
That got the ball rolling and they met Salvador Pérez Jr., president of Hollywood’s Costume Designers Guild and signed a licensing deal with Universal Studios.
“I think it’s a testament, you don’t have to be in Hollywood, you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to make things happen in the industry,” Jutt said.
He said although Edmonton is small “in the grand scheme of things,” it's home, and the team wants to stay here.
“There are programs for entrepreneurs and I think if we continue this, Edmonton has a lot of potential and I believe that we can become a hub for tech innovation.”