The pandemic has changed the way that most organizations approach their businesses with a rapid acceleration in digital adoption across most industries. Beauty and wellness businesses are no different. Customer engagement aided by technology is absolutely necessary as is a streamlined workflow. Gloss Genius is an all-in-one platform for beauty and wellness business owners to launch, operate, and maintain their businesses. The platform offers a suite of services that handle common tasks such as scheduling, payments, client engagement, and analytics. Users of the SaaS platform have a holistic view of the entire business through the centralized solution replacing the paper and pencil paradigm that many in the industry have been reliant upon. Understanding this, GlossGenius offers a white glove onboarding service to get its customers up and running and comfortable using the software, which ultimately provides them the flexibility to work on growing the business without getting caught up in the day-to-day minutiae.
AlleyWatch caught up with GlossGenius CEO and Cofounder Danielle Cohen-Shohet to learn more about the genesis of the business, the company’s future plans, latest round of funding, and much, much more.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We’ve raised $19M in total, across our seed and Series A. Our Series A was led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Other powerful visionaries in SMB technology and fintech piled on such as Tobias Lutke (co-founder & CEO of Shopify), Chris Comparato (CEO of Toast), Aman Narang (Co-founder of Toast), Robert Murphy (co-founder of Mindbody), Yelp execs, and fintech execs such as the former COO of Venmo.
Tell us about the product or service that GlossGenius offers.
GlossGenius is the gateway to entrepreneurship for small business owners across the US beauty and wellness space. With our intuitive approach to centralizing small business owners’ entire workflow, our product helps business owners successfully run every aspect of their businesses, grow their client base, and maximize income. As the only all-in-one solution for this underserved group of business owners, GlossGenius offers powerful booking software, an industry-specific payments platform, intelligent client engagement tools, and deep reporting capabilities.
What inspired the start of GlossGenius?
The inspiration for GlossGenius came as a few areas of interest collided. While I was in college, I started a side business doing makeup artistry, which was a passion of mine, and saw firsthand the pain points of managing client relationships and a business. At the same time, I was intrigued by retail POS and had started working at a digital receipts app startup. During that time, I had the opportunity to learn programming which ultimately allowed me to put it all together into what is now GlossGenius, a hybrid software-payments company helping tens of thousands of business owners in the beauty and wellness space.
How is GlossGenius different?
GlossGenius is the industry’s most intuitive, loved platform that’s centralizing business owners’ entire workflow. Many small businesses still use pen and paper or manual tracking for day-to-day operations. This makes it nearly impossible to grow efficiently given the administrative burden and room for errors. For small business owners, their business is not just a passion, but also their livelihood. Many have fear when it comes to switching the tools they use to run their business or shaking up operations because any mistakes can lead to losing money.
GlossGenius is a complete “business-in-a-box” platform that spans powerful SaaS and fintech solutions, enabling tens of thousands of business owners to run their entire set of business operations every day. We offer automated appointment scheduling, client management, built-in marketing tools and reporting on business metrics. Business owners have a holistic view of their company from one place, so nothing falls through the cracks. Other legacy solutions are hard-to-use, not purpose-built, and aren’t built for the modern needs of a business owner.
We want to play an active role in helping businesses overcome this fear by alleviating common blockers, and overcoming the inertia of getting started. So, we offer concierge onboarding services, where customers can get support with every aspect of getting up and running on our product — even if it means taking transactions recorded in a notebook and entering them into GlossGenius.
What market does GlossGenius target and how big is it?
GlossGenius serves SMBs across the beauty and wellness space — while we have tens of thousands of customers, the market is a $50B+ one.
What’s your business model?
Our business model is a hybrid software-payments model: our unique SaaS model gives unlimited seats to a business owner when they’re leveraging the software and also has a transaction fee on payments.
What are your post-COVID office plans??
Post-COVID, we plan to embrace a flexible model while finding meaningful ways for the team to get together for brainstorms, whiteboarding, important meetings, events and company-wide retreats.
What was the funding process like?
I spent a lot of time upfront developing relationships with investors and potential partners. It’s great because they get to see the way you think and vice versa. We had a lot of inbound interest but ultimately, I chose investors who really understood our business/approach and could add a lot of value with pattern recognition.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
One of the biggest challenges was striking the right balance between really getting to know investors and moving quickly. It’s important that you know and trust those that you’re letting onto the cap table.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Investors are drawn to the macro and the micro: on a macro level, there’s not only a renaissance in SMB Tech but also unchartered opportunities for vertical SaaS. It’s clear that vertical software is an area with lots of opportunity, especially after seeing such success in the marketplace with a company like Toast’s IPO. At GlossGenius, we’re building products focused on our industry and our investors see the value in that. On a micro level, our company has strong product-market fit and a product that business owners love.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We recently surpassed $1B in transaction volume and believe that in the next several months, that number will grow substantially, as we see businesses continue to rebound from the pandemic.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
The advice I’d offer to companies that don’t have a fresh injection of capital would be the same as that I’d offer to companies that do: focus on your customers. When you’re building something that’s helping customers, traction and investor interest will follow.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We have bold ambitions to empower entrepreneurs and know that there’s a lot of opportunity to continue serving customers with powerful workflow centralization. We’re very focused on growing the team with strong talent that wants to work at a scaling startup and have a big impact.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
The Musket Room; it’s elegant but casual. I love all of the microflowers and microgreens they use on dishes.