Pulse of a NYC Techstar: GlossGenius, Automated Assistant for Beauty Professionals



In this post we are talking to Danielle Cohen-Shohet, co-founder and CEO of Gloss Genius, Techstars ’15 company from New York City.

1. What is GlossGenius in 140 characters?

GlossGenius is a smart, automated personal assistant that helps beauty professionals manage and grow their businesses.

2. Why did you start the company?

I’m a beauty junkie and used to do one-off freelance makeup in college. My co-founder also was a freelance DJ. Being a sole proprietor and managing even just a few gigs was painful enough and it became apparent that for those doing this full-time, it’s infinitely more painful and has a significant effect on their bottom line.

We spent months working with various verticals and realized independent beauty professionals were particularly bottlenecked; yet they’re one of the fast growing segments of the freelancing economy and generate a significant amount in service and product sales revenue. We created GlossGenius to give these pros the technology to overcome the bottlenecks associated with managing and growing their business.

3. What does your product do?

Our product materially changes the work lives of beauty professionals and empowers them–kind of like what a good makeover could do to someone…but more. Our product’s personal assistant, named “Gloss”, helps beauty professionals earn more income with client engagement and marketing automation.

Gloss accepts bookings, sends out beautiful personalized appointment reminders, prepares pretty follow-ups personalized for each client, generates content-rich client re-engagement messages to build professionals’ brands, and uses data to identify cross-selling opportunities and proactively get clients back in the door. Gloss interacts with stylists through text message and on the web. Our product works while professionals can stay focused on what they enjoy doing the most.

4. Who are your customers and why do they choose you?

Our customers are makeup artists, hairstylists and high-end nail techs that are predominately part of a large and growing trend in the beauty industry towards independent work and freelancing. They’re running billions of dollars in service revenue in the US. They’re budding entrepreneurs. They’re some of the hardest working professionals out there. They’re creative artists. Currently, we have 700 and growing.

They choose us for three main reasons: 1) our product is incredibly simple to use and requires very little configuration 2) our product lives and works in the same way they do, which is mainly through text messaging and the web and 3) most importantly, there’s no other product out there that proactively helps them grow their business. What all of this comes down to is making them more awesome versions of themselves who can do rad shit (like earn more money).

5. How does Gloss work under the hood?

Gloss works to proactively identify relationship-building and revenue-generating opportunities for stylists and does the heavy lifting, relying on stylists to approve the work that it has prepared. So for example, while a stylist moves onto the next client after an appointment, Gloss is busy creating a unique follow-up thank you note and texts the stylist with a link to view it and asks for permission to send it to that client. The stylist can respond via text to send it off.

In the background Gloss also works on re-engaging clients and growing their loyalty. Gloss takes data around the type of service, frequency of client visits and industry norms to intelligently prepare re-engagement messages that will get clients back in the door. It texts stylists with drafts of pretty emails it has prepared and confirms they’d like to send it out. They’re in full control but aren’t spending any time guessing what they should do to re-engage and market themselves back to clients and doing this work.

6. How do you get your customers to find out about you?

While independent beauty professionals may appear to be highly fragmented, they’re actually part of an industry uniquely characterized by strong community and word-of-mouth. Our customers publicly link out to their GlossGenius pages on Instagram and Facebook. Some of our customers have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and they’re really proud of their GlossGenius pages.

7. What is your long-term vision for the company?

My co-founder and I have two macro theses that shape our long-term vision for the company: that the beauty industry is changing and that our society’s workflow is changing.

With regards to the beauty industry, the traditional construct of a salon will change as stylists, for a number of reasons, have the opportunity to move towards freelancing and develop deeper relationships with clients themselves. Clients will turn more than ever before to their hairstylists and makeup artists instead of brick-and-mortar beauty retailers for beauty spend and purchase decisions.

With regards to our society’s workflow, robust technology and increasingly busy lives will lead people to expect work to just be done for them. They just approve the finished product. Technology will ‘cut through the noise’ and they won’t face the decision anxiety and time constraint around getting work out the door.

We want Gloss to be the infrastructure for every beauty professional’s business. We want Gloss to be synonymous with trust and intelligence. We want Gloss to just do the work for them. Ultimately, we want Gloss to help our customers fully realize the value of the amazing micro-enterprises that they are building.

8. What is your advice to your fellow founders?

There’s no right or wrong decision–it’s what you make of it that’s right or wrong. Finished beats perfect. Bend to the market. Ask yourself questions. All of this relates to a quote I often think about:

“You are a ghost driving a meat covered skeleton made from stardust riding on a rock floating through space. What do you have to be afraid of?. Fellow founders…fear nothing.”



Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Managing Director of Techstars in New York City.

Previously Alex was Founder/CEO of GetGlue (acquired by i.tv),  founder/CEO of Information Laboratory (acquired by IBM), and Chief Architect DataSynapse (acquired by TIBCO).

Alex routinely writes about entrepreneurship and startups at Alex Iskold.

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