I recently had the opportunity of interviewing Ben Aronsten, the CEO and founder of SheSaidBeauty – a digital experience that provides women a better way of managing their beauty routine. The platform provides information, opinions, expertise and shopping options all in one destination, personalised to each member. And here’s what we talked about.
Hi Ben, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Things are great, thanks for asking. It’s always inspiring to read the articles on YHP, so more than happy to share my story.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m originally from Sydney, Australia but London is my home now. I’ve been living in London for the last 4 years and love every minute. My background is in digital marketing and advertising, having headed up Digital Departments within full service agencies for the past 12 years. I have been fortunate to work with clients such as MTV, Activision Gaming, Vodafone and Canon, just to name a few. About 2 years ago I left the agency world to find a new challenge, which I have in SheSaidBeauty.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I have always seen the opportunity in situations but I think my first real entry into the world of business was when I started my own company at 18. It was a small design agency, which with hard work became quite successful, winning awards. From there I don’t think I have ever looked back, the thirst for a challenge has only grown.
How did the idea for SheSaidBeauty come about?
The idea for SheSaidBeauty like most business ideas, stemmed from seeing a problem in the way women Research, Discover and Purchase beauty products. Talking with female friends we believed that it was extremely difficult for women to find the right product, fast and efficiently, having the confidents it was the right product for them.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
The hardest part of starting SheSaidBeauty was the fact nobody had done what we had before. We were not a copycat business, so were in a position where we were redefining the way something was currently done. You can do all the planning in the world but until the business meets its customers, you can’t count on anything. Fortunately we got it right and are seeing amazing growth both in the UK and the USA.
What is SheSaidBeauty? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Women are increasingly spending larger portions of disposable income and time on beauty routines. Seen as both a necessity and luxury, there are a number of challenges faced:
• Where to easily find information on products, services & techniques
• Which of these will best suit individual needs & characteristics
• Who to turn to for trusted opinions and expertise
• When and where to buy from to get the best value for money
These challenges can mean:
• Time wasted searching for information, opinions and places to purchase
• High degrees of experimentation in search of the right solution, potentially resulting in wasted money (and product)
SheSaidBeauty is for women who want a better way of managing their beauty routine.
It’s a digital experience that provides information, opinions, expertise and shopping options in one destination, personalised to their needs, so they can make the right choices.
Unlike other beauty destinations, SheSaidBeauty helps women manage their beauty routine, quickly and easily. Empowering them to make informed decisions, saving time and money.
How have you been able to fund it?
We have had some amazing support from Angel investors, who understand the challenges and our vision. This has allowed us to focus on the building the very best product, continually optimising and releasing new features.
What sorts of advice do you having for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their startups?
It’s not easy. It will take twice as long as you expect and you need to have more than just a good idea. A good idea doesn’t mean it’s a good business. So know your business model and have it clearly defined.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
In the first few months you are living on pure adrenalin, I still might be 15 months in. Your highs are high and your lows are low. It’s a rollercoaster when you first launch because you vision is coming to life. After a few months you have enough data to really start making more measured and strategic decisions. This is where things go to another level and you really get into the hard work. Building a real business.
How did you initially get traction?
98% of our traction has come through organic sources such as Google natural search, worth of mouth, referral. You need to understand your core audience and who your earlier adopters will be. Focus is key.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
The most crucial thing without doubt is building the right team. Without the best team you will not succeed, or at least it will be a painful and long journey getting there. Not only do you want the best people, they need to fit the team culture.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Waking up every morning knowing that it’s me in control of my destiny. Getting to do what you love each day is an extremely lucky privilege, so for me it’s a highlight I experience daily.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the She Said Beauty team for 2013?
We have an amazing team here at SheSaidBeauty. You will be seeing some amazing things from SheSaidBeauty in 2013, our mobile app is launching soon and there are some game changing features not far off.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Not every idea is a good business – You need to have a solid business model.
It’s darkest before the dawn – there are highs and lows, when things feel at there worst it’s usually just before they become at there best.
Don’t give up – imagine what it’s going to be like, now times it by 100. You will work long hours and work hard. The rewards at there for those who are focused and dedicated.
On Saturday 9th March we will be hosting, alongside Brightside, ‘Get Up Start Up‘ where you will be able to apply and be approved for a Startup loan of between £2,500 & £10,000 to help you get your business started!