Over four years, Steve Torrance, Ashleigh Hill and myself (amongst many critically important others) have created Flossie, a booking app that acts as a smart payment service. With $4m in sales and 54,657 members, we’re now transacting in two countries. With $5.5m invested in technology (circa 50 iterations on a multi-stack and now very integrated platform), we’re supported in R&D and growth grants by the NZ government. We’ve signed important partnerships with both L’Oreal and Flexigroup. Our business has changed the way customers think about and action booking services, and we’ve increased repeat booking rates exponentially. We convert 19% of our app visitors to bookings and we have fixed the “no show” pain for our salon network (by providing paid-in-advance customers). There are many good news stories to be proud of.
It’s also been the hardest journey of our lives and we’ve done and been through what every founder could imagine along the way, the trough of sorrow was deep and long. But through it we went, stabilising, creating a more sustainable future and focusing only on the most critical strategies.
Sohere we are at an important juncture. One where the core founders agree that we are going to do it differently from here. No more start-up theatre. No more endless rides on the founder rollercoaster and feeling sick all the time from it. No more “playing the game” simply because those were the rules that were apparently set out. No more taking investment from those who intrinsically feel wrong for us, or don’t align with our values, but were previously needed just to stay alive — there are ultimately better ways. No more strategically planning around metric rules that other people set — but don’t actually fit our business model.
We have just three core goals, one for each country of focus — two of which other people are responsible for and one that I am looking after. The load is now shared across us — my shoulders thank me. The process to get to this small, but well-formed team was uncomfortable, but necessary. I no longer feel like a lone wolf (or warrior as someone recently described), but a supported co-founder with a balanced team. It’s not about a sense of urgency, but an entirely transparent and collective appreciation of priorities. That’s what counts.
And I will openly ask for help and genuinely tell you where we’re at without the BS. I will not pitch any longer, but I will show you proudly what we’ve created and chat at length with anyone who’s interested in what’s not “just a beauty business”, but a new generation of ecommerce, in a category untouched and excitingly worth stupid amounts of money. This isn’t a market-place, (and it’s time to stop defending that and start educating instead)— new categories need pioneers willing to teach. As Emily Weiss last week stated following her inclusion in the Forbes 40 under 40 list, “this isn’t about me, this is about beauty. Four years ago, I couldn’t get a text back from most investors. Yet it’s a $450B industry going to $750B by 2024. Beauty is powerful, it’s not frivolous; it’s a conduit for connection.” Oh, I hear her. The pats on the head. The deafening silence. The disinterest from investors is entirely real. It’s time to find the needle in the haystack, as she must have done, to push past and through it.
I’m heading to London in late August for 4–5 weeks, setting up camp and making myself acquainted with the people who care deeply about next-generation retailing, technology in consumer mobile purchasing, reimagining age-old industries and equipping them to thrive. I will happily meet with them and hopefully have meaningful discussion around “what next”. I’d love your help connecting to these folk. It’s a hard road coming from a teeny-tiny nation like New Zealand (and to be taken seriously), but I am deadly serious about the world-class product we have created and I’ve stood on the world-stage with it in hand, knowing it stacks up. The opportunity we have to bring a premium contender to the table, with a proven track record, and showcase the best of New Zealand is ours to take, but I do need your help to make that bit happen.
Thank you in advance and I look forward to repaying the favour.
Jenene, Chief Flossie.