Beauty Buddy is targeting €800,000 in seed funding as part of a strategy to expand its analytics-based cosmetics technology around the world.
The Kildare-based tech company allows users to post reviews of make-up and cosmetics on an app where they can also view reviews of products to get a sense of whether a particular brand might be for them.
As part of its seed funding round, Beauty Buddy has to date raised €400,000, mostly from angel investors based in Britain. By the end of July, when the round closes, it is hoping to have another €400,000 to continue its growth around the world.
As well as searching for product reviews on the app, users can avail of the company’s barcode-scanning tool to quickly bring up a list of reviews on a product they see in a shop. They can also use the app to build a profile or to follow others.
Four years after its foundation, Beauty Buddy now facilitates thousands of reviews every week on its app.
Wendy Slattery, a 44-year-old serial entrepreneur from Kildare who co-founded the company along with her sister Tracy Leavy, said it also provides a service to retailers and brands.
It has retail partnerships with Brown Thomas, Arnotts and Harvey Nichols, marketing itself as a “digital sales assistant” for high-street stores. Brands including Rimmel, Human + Kind and Johnson & Johnson have also established partnerships.
Beauty Buddy supplies data analytics to companies that sign up to its service, allowing them insights into customer behaviours and product interactions.
When the pandemic halted in-store sampling, the business moved to fill the gap by creating a new community – a “sampling squad” who are given free samples of a product to review. Users who review more than ten products can sign up to become a sampler.
The scheme is another way for consumers to get information on the products they’re buying and another feedback mechanism for companies constantly seeking customer analysis.
Beauty Buddy now has samplers in Britain, US and Australia, and runs video calls which gives them the opportunity to meet brands and ask questions about products.
Brands and retailers can also display reviews of their products, listed as a review by Beauty Buddy, on their own websites, which Slattery said boosts the trust of the customer in the product.
“It’s a full circle for us,” Slattery said. “The brands pay us, and they get the reviews from the users. The users get the free products, and then we charge the brands and retailers to display the reviews back on their websites.”
She said the belief that companies don’t want negative reviews is a myth, given that the act of displaying only positive reviews can damage consumer trust.
Beauty Buddy was able to hold onto its eight-strong workforce during the pandemic, and is now “ready to go” with its plans for global growth. The business is also a finalist in Enterprise Ireland’s Founder of the Year competition for this year, which is open to those companies designated as high potential start-ups.
The planned seed funding will bring Beauty Buddy to operate on a profitable footing, Slattery said. The business is taking on new initiatives such as video reviews and is hoping to add further improvements.
“At the moment, we have about 1,500 active users a day. And in the last two weeks that's increased by 200 per cent. It’s just jumping all the time,” Slattery said.
“I remember the day when we got our first review from somebody we didn't know. I remember the week when we celebrated getting 10 reviews from people. And now it's thousands in a week.
“People want to try out free products, and meet brands, and feel like an influencer. And we're creating that.”