Matt Star CC’12 wants to change the way you shop, and he’s got the right jeans code to do it. Star has gone from composing Varsity Show scores to writing code for Rawr Denim [now known as Heddels], a website dedicated to the ins and outs of menswear raw denim. Rawr Demin is one of 31 startups chosen for the Columbia Startup Lab, a venture that offers discounted rent in a SoHo co-working space (called WeWork) for young alumni with big plans for their companies.
Raw denim is denim that has not been washed since going through the dying process. For denim aficionados, raw denim is desirable because it fades over time and conforms to the owner’s body. The raw denim market is becoming increasingly popular, and Rawr Denim receives more than 800,000 hits a month as a popular online resource for any and all raw denim questions. From care guides to store locators to brand reviews, the website is a tool for denim lovers and a guide for anyone who wants to learn more.
If you’ve ever struggled to find the perfect pair of jeans, Rawr Denim’s Denim Scout tool [now called Heddels Scout] could be just what you’re looking for. The tool lets users set parameters for price, style, measurements, color preferences and more and then the tool finds raw denim jeans from companies around the world that match the customers’ selections. Says Star, “We’re not just reviews and we’re not just how-to guides, we’re more than that. And I think that's what gets me really excited and also gets our network excited.” If you want to find a guide to stitches, seams and washes, Rawr Denim has you covered there as well as with its online denim dictionary and detailed care guides. The site currently focuses only on menswear raw denim but plans to expand its offerings as the site and its tools grow.
Star says that attending Columbia was a great basis for his new role as an entrepreneur, especially thanks to his experience composing music for Varsity Shows. “You can learn from the Varsity Show, it’s a massive undertaking,” he says. “You’re putting on a huge show in such a short period of time and learning from the experience on the creative team there. It’s crazy, doing all these creative projects, how entrepreneurial you have to be just to get things done and that’s what Columbia teaches a lot of people. You can see people sweating it out at Butler, there’s definitely a ‘get things done’ culture there and I think that’s what I really took to heart.” He adds, “I think it’s that spirit of not doing the minimum, of really trying to go the extra mile and really trying to create something unique and something special. I see that in a lot of my colleagues and classmates that I’ve met at Columbia – that driven attitude to really go that extra mile.”
As Rawr Denim’s lead developer, Star is ready to go the extra mile in New York City. He has been working from Philadelphia while founding editor Nick Coe is in Edmonton, Canada, and managing editor David Shuck is in based in Denver – Star says that the access to fashion, web development and business opportunities in NYC made applying to the Columbia Startup Lab program an irresistible prospect. He will be the only member of the three-person team to work in New York while the others will continue to contribute from their homes bases. The team has ambitious plans for their first few months in the lab, with a focus on expanding Rawr Denim’s tools and building out its resources. Whether networking with other Columbia alumni, meeting Business School professors or sharing ideas with other young entrepreneurs in the WeWork space, Star is ready to bring Rawr Denim to the next level with the help of the Columbia Startup Lab.