The Brazilian community of entrepreneurs and investors in fashion and beauty tech is growing and there is a lot to learn with them
We were so excited to organize the 2nd chapter of FaB — Fashion & BeautyTech (founded by Odile Roujol in SF in 2017, now 2500 founders & funders, 15 chapters US Europe and Asia) in Brazil, which turned out to be an inspiring and great exchange of experiences and lessons from the founders and investors that are changing the Beauty and Fashion industry in Latin America.
Let’s go over the main take-aways from each panel.
Panel 1 — The power of community beyond data.
The new digital social media era has transformed our lives in such a way that we, consumers, have been given a channel to share what we think and what we want, and in turn, have the modern brands listen to it and build products for us. Julia Petit @petiscos, the co-founder of Sallve, highlights the importance of a brand that knows how to communicate. Content creators and influencers are the “means” to identify the needs of a given community. It is your community that will help you to grow by participating in your process. In the beginning, you should focus on a narrow segment of consumers, understand their aspirations, and create the best experience for them. Don’t focus on growing fast, focus on finding the right audience for your solution, and then, yes, grow very fast!
Bruna Gullaci reinforces the importance to be transparent with your community and not “sell” a fake speech. Consumers sense BS and if you lose their confidence, there is no way back. She is developing a platform for recycling clothes with a sustainability purpose, but also in a very stylish way. She brings a lot of creativity to the clothes reformation, and advocates for the green consumerism defending that brands and companies should perform an educational role along with their business.
Flavia Nogueira and Victor Hayashida from Schools 99 follow the same trend and believe that the biggest problem with several traditional brands is that they do not have an identity and thus can not create a connection with the consumer. It is clear today, despite increasing access to data and information between consumers and brands, consumers are suffering from the “tyranny of choice” and are having a hard time in making purchasing decisions; more and more the purpose becomes determinant on consumers decisions. Consumers increasingly want to know and relate with who is behind the brand, their story, their mission. And it turns out to be an opportunity for startups which can create this relationship much more easily by engaging the consumer with the purpose of their companies, hence the brand. They value a culture of transparency and authenticity.
The cases mentioned above show that it is possible to create meaningful connections using consumer-derived data once your values are clear and real and resonate with your audience.
Panel 2 — The rise of platforms in fashion and beauty
Recently, we have seen several brands like Rent the Runway, Stitch Fix, and Hims, disrupting the beauty and fashion tech market based on the use of machine learning and big data to build new platforms and innovative business models. We brought some examples of entrepreneurs that are doing this in Brazil.
Caio de Santi, founder of REVO Beauty Tech, has created an algorithm that recommends the best shampoo and conditioner formulation for each woman, prioritizing natural ingredients, customizing hair treatment and valuing conscious consumption. According to Caio, the use of more natural, preservative-free products is not just a trend or fad, but a path of no return. Personalization requires a learning process, the company has to adapt not only to educate the consumer but to bring new solutions that meet consumer’s expectations.
We also heard a testimonial that Odile will love: Caio shared that after succeeding with a biotech startup focused on industrial pollution control, he found inspiration to switch to the Beauty tech industry by reading the FaB community manifesto. A real proof of the power of this community. Applauds please!!
Felipe Siqueira from A Oficina brought technology to the men’s fashion market through an algorithm that measured hundreds of men and determined the size patterns (S, M, L) of the Brazilian man, thereby creating shirts that fit them better. Felipe bets on stores where the customer has an experience that goes beyond buying clothes. In their stores, the consumer can get their clothes fixed on time while having a drink or making use of the barbershop. For Felipe, it is possible to innovate and bring technology to traditional sectors, such as shirt sales.
Paula Sampaio from Glambox also stressed the importance of communicating with the consumer for the success of subscription models, mainly when targeting different genders. She shared that despite being more largely accepted in the female audience, there has been a growth of male audience and there is more and more space for the creation of male-focused beauty and fashion brands.
Panel 3- How to build trust and long term partnerships as founders and funders
Nino Caminhante from Belcorp Ventures opened the discussion by pointing out that there are still very few funds focused exclusively on beauty and fashion Tech, which are sectors representing gigantic markets that need innovation. For him, the founder has to be very well prepared before reaching out to a VC. It is crucial to know how to communicate your idea and demonstrate deep knowledge of the market and where you want to go. On average, VCs talk to 20–25 founders and you need to be able to get a VC’s attention in 10–15 minutes. For him, what is most striking about a founder is that he/she makes clear the values and purpose of their brand as well as their differential among competitors.
Barbara Diniz from Dress & Go shares her expertise in fundraising and how she prepares herself for that. It requires a mental preparation once it is decided to reach out to investors — it is a tough road that requires a lot of effort, and it should be the main focus of the CEO while this process is running. As we usually say, fundraising is a full-time job and can be very painful since most investors will likely to say no to your proposal.
Along the same line, Alexandre Kleis, co-founder of Beauty Date, reported that he failed for 3 years before being able to raise a substantial investment (US$ 7M). For him, the essential point is to learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again (fast fail and learn fast). “I love new mistakes but I can’t stand repeating the same mistakes. He also added that the entrepreneur should be able to know their market deeply and anticipate new trends in order to win the game.
Another learning we loved was about the decision factor for establishing an investor-entrepreneur partnership. A good business model is a must, but the investor’s empathy and perception about the entrepreneur’s ability to execute are fundamental. After all, this is supposed to be a long-lasting relationship.
It was definitely an incredible night and I want to close this post with a big shout out thanking the organizers that made this event a huge success. Myself and Alessandra Zonari from OneSkin are proud Brazilian chapter leaders and we got together with the team of Beyond, Maria Fernanda Meza and Paula Foster, and Luciano Bueno from Galy, to build the agenda composed of such great panelists. It´s a ton of work, but the results are so gratifying that we feel glad to have the opportunity to be part of this community and help to foster the ecosystem. Go FaB!