I believe a revolution is under way for the fashion and beauty industries. Barriers don’t exist any longer in production, retail and media.

One year ago, coming from Paris, I came to live in the Silicon Valley.

I’ve had many opportunities to meet great young founders : they have been raised with the rise of peer- to-peer sites and apps, grew as teen-agers at the same time as social media, have been smart on line purchasers for a long time.

Beauty startups founders are « data driven» : they understand the value of their customers data, they’re the best at what they do, wether developing a niche brand, or leading an engaged community.

As leaders, they are daring, know how to listen to their instincts. They have strong beliefs, they are assertive, and convinced they are stronger as a team when they share the same culture.

I’d like to share what I’m grateful to have learnt from fierce founders leading amazing startups. And take the opportunity to share with you what would be for me the next brands to watch.

3 Golden rules we should learn from them :

  • 3. « THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL » as a new meaning.

1. First, «Be Data Driven » helps them relentlessly focus on customer experience.What is best for the user and customer?Use rich data obtained from customer profiles and context (respecting safety and privacy rules), measure results and develop advanced metrics is more than ever essential.

Let’s have a look at a few charismatic founders and start ups. to watch in 2017 in San Francisco:

Bevel – founded by Tristan Walker, provides premium grooming products and services for men of color, designed to help reduce skin irritation : a complete shave system is delivered to your door, with a safety razor and shave brush.

Curology – founded by David Lortscher Dermatologist, is a subscription model for acne treatment. As you chat on line, your prescription is more powerful than what you can get at the drugstore. But also, as a friendly medical provider collecting medical history, (and photo of your skin), the formula can be customized just for you, according to the season and your daily life.

And of course, Meme Box, founded by Hyungseok Dino Ha, claims to be the best market place for Korean Beauty in the world, now creates its own products and brands, for effective, affordable and fun beauty.

In the past, Chief Marketing Officers and Head of Sales were collecting data, and tried to activate customer segmentations across media, retail channels and all touch points, to get consistent messages to target customers.

Now, with real time data, it is possible to activate clusters of customers, by their interests, preferences and behaviors. And even predict what they would need in the future.

The more you build a data platform, the deeper knowledge you get about your customers.

Data analytics and in the near future Artificial Intelligence – and machine learning, are huge opportunities for better knowing customers, answering to their expectations, and predicting future trends.

To listen to customers in real time will be soon as important as activating influencers. To activate small clusters of population for a customized answer in real time.

« Social Standards » is one the solutions. Founded in Oakland by Devon Bergman, WWD describes it as « entering beauty social media analysis space ». The company aims to provide context around Twitter and Instagram conversations. Anastassia has a lot of user generated content, but do you know if your brand shares some interests in an age group or specific location with this hot brand ? Women in the early summer are obsessed by sun tanned legs, but do you know why they talk about « Say Hello to sexy legs » (now in Sephora) ? The brown nude shades were the hit lipsticks &glosses in the last season, but what is emerging this month that make people talk about it?

The champions will be the one mastering data analytics.

2. Secondly, « Respect your skin/body and take care of the planet » is a committment that make new founders shine.

I met founders whose mission is to change the way people think about what they put on their bodies, with safe and effective beauty products. They are purpose driven organization that value diversity and inclusiveness. They support their communities and respect the environment they live in.

In San Francisco, there are a few people and companies to watch :

Tatcha, founded by Victoria Tsai, shares Japanese beauty and ancient recipes with natural ingredients, they believe that true beauty begins with the heart and the mind.

Aobiom, founded by a biotech company, has developed beauty products that support the skin microbiom, called «Mother Dirt ». They claim to maintain good bacteria on the skin for a healthy complexion, as our obsession with cleanliness could actually make up sicker.

Credo beauty (retail) has a comprehensive collection of brands curated from around the world on their site and in their flagships stores (on Fillmore Street for SF). Their brands never test on animals, never carry harmful ingredients.

Mayvenn, founded by Diishan Imira empowers stylists and salons to retail hair extensions for African American women, and deliver them to your house.

All mentioned founders share a vision, put forward their committments, they are engaged with their community. They’re proud to share their values.

3. Thirdly, « Think global, act local » from the beginning is a huge asset for beauty start up founders.

Cultural differences mean a lot. Customers don’t have the same behavior and preferences according to where they live. Product development is powerful to drive revenues by key geographic area and 20% of revenues are driven by newness for some global brands). But empathy with the different cultures is for me the major asset for a sustainable growth.

Generation Z, those born between 1994 and 2010 is about 21 million strong in American alone. Generation Z is data native. Yes, founders are inspired by data when they create their beauty brand and products.

I am pretty amazed by three young female founders living in San Francisco :

Agustina Sartori comes from Urugay and has founded GlamST an omnichannel solution for beauty brands that allows women to try on makeup from anywhere.

The tech solution can help beauty advisors in stores or be embedded in on line stores. The high quality of the app (with your picture and the shades you want to try) has already appealed global brands, happy with their sales increase and NPS (net promoter score).

Ellie Bolus was born in Australia, she has founded So Choix : « the makeup counter delivered to you », with the right choice of samples by brand and product.

She is a beauty lover who has built a great community of moms (not having time to visit stores and get samples), sportive (she does triathlons in California) and beauty products addicts. She believes that helping each woman to make her best choice will help her to feel more confident. « Be-YOU-tiful » as she says.

Dina Burkitbayeva comes from Kazakstan where her mother educated her to beauty rituals. She has founded TRU Beauty, a salon booking app, the destination for consumers to discover and instantly book beauty and grooming services.

She’s convinced that spa or barbers near your home are part of luxury in your life, giving you an experience according to who you are and what you like.

Algorithms are part of her daily conversation, but she takes the time to build personal relationships with each salon and hairstylist and her way to develop her brand is creative, as a great experience matters to keep customer loyal. She knows that are friends don’t like to call for an appointment. So she finds the solution for her customers.

The three founders are part Millennials very close to the « Gen Z » in their way of thinking and leading their company.

They all come from abroad. California is their new home to develop their brand and scale their company. They embody diversity.

They’re marketing technologists, obsessed with data, but first and foremost, a high end customer experience is what matters to them.

In 2017, let’s watch merger and acquisitions.

Corporations have well understood their need of talents to target the Millennials, engage with them and develop the right products and brands.

New global platforms and companies could emerge. Built by fierce start up founders carefully listening to customers and deeply understanding their expectations.

Customization in real time will be the new challenge.

And empowered by technologies, new champions could grow and scale fast !

Odile Roujol

Advisor in residence with Next World Capital & Ever Green Fund, Mentor at GrowthX, Business Angel @BayAngels and 50 Partners, Board member. San Francisco.

While with l’Oréal, held multiple positions and became after moving to NY the CEO Lancôme International (#1 global luxury beauty brand). Most recently, the Chief Strategy and Data Officer at Orange (a leading Telco with 350M+ customers across 30 EMEA countries).

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