In today’s age, you are able to practically secure anything you want on demand. Beauty services are no different. For that there is Blushup, the first platform that connects providers in the retail beauty market with customers, letting them book a variety of beauty services completely online with no hassle and no wait. The all on-in-one online platform drives retention with rewards like spontaneous free samples. The company recently launched and is already partnered with a number of top brands and shops throughout the city with an ambitious strategy to expand its offering.
AlleyWatch chatted with CEO and founder Monique Salvador about the company, its founding, and future plans.
Tell us about Blushup.
Blushup is the 1st online platform connecting the $55B beauty retail market to its customers. For those looking for beauty services with the best beauty brands at nearby stores, this is the go-to platform, no more phone calls needed to book makeup appointments or find out about the latest in-store beauty events. Launched in February 2018 with 15 top beauty brands and over 100 store locations in NYC, people are calling Blushup the “OpenTable” for beauty. Blushup offers easy access to beauty retailers, their reviews, photos, prices, in store events, sales and appointment availability, all for free. Customers are given an online account where all booking history and products used are stored. Appointments now are mostly taken on a sheet of paper and since most counters are offline, people have to hassle through to find the store phone number to make the call to book or blindly walk by a store without knowing prices and appointment availability. Beauty retailers are losing millions of dollars because of this digital gap between people and stores. Our fully automated system, allows beauty counters to stay organized and it equips store associates with the right technology to help improve the customer experience. Blushup also offers rewards for every appointment booked.
Blushup is the only beauty-booking tool in the market focused on in-store beauty services with top beauty brands and retailers. It provides customers with a new way to book beauty services and it gives online visibility to what’s happening at their local beauty retailers. The mission is to help beauty brands improve the customer experience and to give women easier access to in-store services with these brands.
What market does Blushup target and how big is it?
The beauty retail market is $55B and expected to reach $90B by 2020. There are ~50,000 beauty counters in the U.S. and ~40M women who use their services. It’s a really big niche.
What is the business model?
We have a B2B business model where the beauty retailers will pay a fee to use our software. Pricing remains confidential at this point.
What inspired the business?
I started the business through my own personal problem. I had a birthday party to go to one night and wanted to book a makeover with a professional makeup artist without spending a lot of money. So I thought of booking an appointment at a local beauty retail counter where I would pay for the service by buying a product. Sephora and MAC were all booked and the other beauty retailers didn’t have an online booking tool so I couldn’t see what other options I had. I tried to make phone calls to reach other counters and was unable to reach them. Finally, I randomly walked into a store and told the artist to give me smokey eyes like Kim Kardashian, but instead he made my eyes so dark and people at the party kept telling me that I looked really tired. Frustrated by this experience I thought, how come nobody has built an app before where women can go to see all beauty counters available, their prices, reviews, photos and online booking? Given my Venture Capital background and experience working with startups I felt like I had the right skills to start Blushup in January 2017.
Are there any plans to expand outside of NYC?
Yes, we decided to launch in NYC only but by the end of this year we plan to launch in NJ, CT, Boston, LA, Miami and potentially more cities across the U.S.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
We are currently raising a Seed Round of $1M and given the low number of female founders being funded that will be a big milestone to achieve. We will expand our platform to include more locations, beauty brands and skincare services in the next 6 months. Plans to launch a review system and a mobile app are also in-sight.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
If you are a non-tech founder do not spend all your time looking for that perfect tech cofounder, this will lead you to fail fast. People will tell you that that’s what you need to do (Ideally yes) but founders who have been through that will never give you that advice because they know how difficult and stressful it is! I realized early on that it was better to be a solo founder than to have the wrong tech cofounder just because people were telling me so. Instead find yourself a tech advisor. Tech is one of the biggest challenges for non-tech founders and my tech advisor has been my right hand person. He guides me in every single tech decision that I make.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Bobbi Brown. I look up to her as a role model. She started her business with her own savings as I did and she managed to build one of the most successful beauty brands. Her innovative and entrepreneurial spirit is such an inspiration to all the female founders in the beauty space.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is originally where I got inspired to start Blushup. It’s the perfect market for beauty services because all the beauty brands are here and getting your makeup done is in high demand. I always walk by the beauty counters on the weekends and they are always super busy! It’s almost impossible to get a last minute appointment with a top brand. I also believe that founders should know the market very well where they launch, that can mitigate risks and allow you to scale faster.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Milos! I love Greek food!