William Yin co-founder of
What is your background and history?
I am a recent engineering graduate from Queen’s University in Canada. My background is actually in oil and gas. I worked for BP before I started Scent Trunk in my final year of university.
- Have you always had a interest in scent and fragrance?
I did not always have an interest in fragrance. To be honest, I started out just wearing an Adidas Sport citrus fragrance that I got back when I was in high school. It wasn’t until an old colleague of mine at BP mentioned that I smelled like her dad. I went on a journey to find something more unique, and less “dad-smelling”. That’s when I went beyond the department store and discovered niche and indie fragrances. That’s when my passion for fragrance grew. I was amazed at how much there was to the industry, and I was sad to see that a lot of these amazing products were largely unknown to most people.
What were you doing before you started Scent Trunk?
I was working for BP in oil and gas. Then, I returned to school after that internship. During that school year I was really interested in entrepreneurship because I wasn’t happy with the work I was doing in engineering. So, I decided to start a company with my housemate at the time.
- What was a issue that you were trying to address with Scent Trunk.
Scent Trunk has changed a lot since it first started. There were two main issues that we were trying to address. Firstly, we realized there were a lot of people like us, who weren’t a “one signature scent” type of person. There were a lot of people out there who always want new fragrances to wear. These people wanted variety. These people wanted something unique. We wanted to find the best fragrances from around the world and bring them to our subscriber’s doorsteps. The second issue was the fact that it was really difficult to get fragrances online, because we can’t smell through the internet. I heard of so many horror stories of people blind-buying online only to get the fragrance, and hate it. So I thought, hey, if we can build a recommendation engine that could dissect a person’s tastes, and correlate it with the notes in a fragrance, maybe we could take the risk out of buying online. We spent 6 months building the system, before it was finally working to our liking. Now, subscribers can create what we call a “Scent Profile”, which lets us know what notes they like. Then, we’ll match them with the best fragrances out there. We scour the world to find what matches best. Ask our customers how they’ve enjoyed it ;)
- How does Scent Trunk Work?
Scent Trunk is a personalized fragrance subscription, where each month you receive a variety of fragrances, hand-picked from around the world, curated to your tastes. You start by creating a Scent Profile, which describes the notes you like. Then we’ll scour the world to find the best match. As you continue to customize your Scent Profile, rate the fragrances you receive etc., your picks get stronger and stronger. You also get points along the way, and you can use the points towards full bottles. Because when you find one that’s truly a favorite, you’ll want to make sure you keep it, especially because the fragrance houses we work with are extremely exclusive.
- What are your views on where the perfume world is now and where it’s headed?
Let’s start with where I think the world of consumer products are headed in general. I think we are moving away from “one-product-fits-all”, to “which product fits me best”. The reason for that, is because consumers have more choice than ever before. Why? Because large companies cannot use the fact that they have shelf space in brick and mortar, as a barrier to entry. With e-commerce, every company has a channel to market. Niche companies are succeeding because of that. In the future, niche fragrance companies will continue to succeed and eat away at mainstream market share. The successful companies in the future are going to be the ones that can provide the best customer experience and quality.
So how does this happen? I think the development and marketing of fragrances is going to become a lot more data-driven. The best way to create the perfect fragrance for someone, is to understand what the person likes, inside and out. That’s one thing we are trying to learn at Scent Trunk. What do people truly like? We’re trying to continue to develop our Scent Profile system and use it to help brands create better fragrances.
- What were your fears if any when started the company?
My biggest fear when I started was failure. It’s still my biggest fear today, because we are by no means a success…yet! It’s a weird thought though right? Because when you start a business you’re bound to fail a lot, that’s the only way you learn.
- Finally, do you have any thing you would like to share?
Right now we are just focused on creating the best possible experience for our customers. That means, making our website way more user-friendly and educational. We have other projects we would like to work on eventually but right now we need to acquire enough subscribers to fund those projects. So help me! Subscribe today J