Our Start-up of the Week is The Beauty Buddy, which wants to be the ‘go-to app’ for beauty shoppers, while bringing real-time insights to the cosmetics industry.
Wendy Slattery is the CEO and co-founder of The Beauty Buddy, a company that sources data from user activity to provide beauty brands and industry partners with insights into consumer behaviours, competitive comparisons and sentiment analysis.
Slattery founded the company with her sister Tracy Leavy. The pair had previously co-founded a retail and e-commerce company together, where they developed experience in business development, corporate sales and project management.
Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, Slattery explained the opportunity she recognised in the beauty industry, claiming that the average woman spends more than €80,000 on beauty and cosmetics throughout their life.
“Only 12pc of this figure converts into online sales – it’s one of the few retail categories that struggles online,” she said.
‘We want to have the go-to app for consumers to discover, review and decide on beauty products, ensuring they make the right purchase unique to them’
– WENDY SLATTERY
With a high proportion of cosmetics sales occurring in bricks-and-mortar stores, Slattery said that many brands may not have access to real-time data about how customers feel about their products.
“There are companies such as Nielsen and Kantar, who supply high-level reports across all industries, but currently there is no dedicated beauty analytics company.
“As an analytics company, our competitive advantage is that we supply real-time data versus static data, providing brands with direct access to their customer, enabling product personalisation and other advantages at scale.”
The tech behind The Beauty Buddy
The Kildare-based team has developed the Beauty Buddy app, which allows users to scan the barcode of a beauty or cosmetic product, and displays any information they might need to know about that product, with reviews, recommendations and tips.
“Engineered using serverless design principles in a cloud environment, The Beauty Buddy app uses machine learning to provide users with relevant product information,” Slattery said.
“Harnessing the power of a unique, trusted and independent beauty community, the app takes into account everything it knows about the user and recommends the best products, reviews, ratings and tutorials, whilst also extracting detailed data analytics that are invaluable to brands.”
With this information and data analytics, Slattery said that the company wants to provide a service for brands, retailers and consumers, in what she described as a “three-tiered ultimate goal”.
“We want every beauty and cosmetic brand to have access to our data analytics and to use it to positively grow their business, to identify with the consumer and create personalisation at scale.
“For the retailer, we want them to use our real-time data for their marketing, product placement and as an efficient buying tool – knowing exactly what the consumer wants, how and when they want it. Finally, we want to have the go-to app for consumers to discover, review and decide on beauty products, ensuring they make the right purchase unique to them.”
The journey so far
The company recently won the AIB Women in Enterprise award, which Slattery said was a “huge achievement” for the team, and a “fantastic acknowledgement” of how far the start-up has come since it was founded in 2017.
Delighted to be attending the Women in Enterprise Awards! What an amazing group of inspiring women #aibwie19 #aibbiz #startup #entrepreneurs #wib pic.twitter.com/D9QpiiNmK1
— The Beauty Buddy (@BeautyBuddyApp) September 12, 2019
“The reaction we’ve received from brands has been overwhelming. They acknowledge that they lack relevant, actionable, real-time insights into their consumers’ behaviours and interactions with their products,” Slattery added.
“Beauty and cosmetic brands spend millions on R&D and marketing, yet, they have very little influence in the consumers’ ‘will I, won’t I?’ moment. They feel disconnected from their consumers. Today more than 80pc of beauty shoppers consult their phones in stores, seeking product information, unbiased advice and reviews, directions of use, ingredients and tutorials.
“Brands recognise this and they are actively seeking actionable data that allows them to connect with their customers, helping them to drive business goals.”
So far, The Beauty Buddy has engaged with national and international brands, including companies such as Rimmel and Johnson & Johnson. The company also has retail partnerships with Arnotts, Brown Thomas, McCauley Pharmacy and Liberty London.
After participating in the NDRC’s Galway-based PorterShed accelerator programme, the business recently raised €575,000 in seed funding from angel investors and Enterprise Ireland. “Our next raise will be used to fund the roll-out of The Beauty Buddy to consumers across the US market,” Slattery added.
Thoughts on the Irish start-up scene
Slattery said that Ireland is an “incredible country for entrepreneurship” and has been a great place to begin her start-up journey.
“It’s fast paced but there are numerous platforms and support programmes available to assist Irish start-ups to kick-start an idea, to grow that idea, and build it into a business.
“The PorterShed was a fantastic experience at a time in our journey when we were required to relocate to Galway for approximately four months. The community and support system there and the knowledge we received from networking with other start-ups and learning from their experiences was invaluable to us and continues to be.”
Finally, Slattery gave her advice for anybody thinking about starting their own business. “Running a start-up is tough, challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Once you set yourself goals and an achievable growth strategy, do everything in your power to reach those goals, no matter how big or small these milestones are,” she said.
“Remember – you can’t do it all yourself, so surround the business with a great, solid, dedicated and like-minded team who have the ability to free up your time, allowing you to focus on the next steps and global ambitions.”
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