Hey guys! It’s Nicole here and welcome to Seamless. We aren’t friends yet, but I know that we will be. It’s important that I share the fact that I’m pretty obsessed with beauty products.
The other day I was in Sephora with my girlfriend and I drew a blank. I knew there was a specific skin serum I had wanted to recommend her, but I couldn’t remember the name for my life.
That’s where Rita Ravindra comes in. She’s the founder of MiaMia, a new beauty app designed for sharing products. You simply sign up, take a style quiz and start collecting products to purchase and share. You’ll never forget that one product name again because it’s always on your phone.
I caught up with Rita just after she’d come back from the gym, and she’s still nothing short of glamorous. Here’s our conversation.
Rita Ravindra: I just got back from the gym like a half ago, so you’ll have to excuse me
Nicole Fallert: No that’s okay it’s been a busy day on our side too! My first question is why you started MiaMia
RR: My background is in finance, so right out of college I got bit by the tech bug pretty quickly after graduating and been in tech for a long time and was always a really good number two.
I helped the CEOS raise money do business development deals, manage finance, manage HR but then I’d always had this idea and it stemmed from personal experience. I’d worked on a blog and transitioned it to a newsletter for women and it just baffled me that there wasn’t app out there where I couldn’t just simply manage my inventory of products, make looks with them because that’s what I do, and then share with my girlfriends.
That’s what I sought out to build: a social platform because women have upwards of 40 different beauty products spanning skin care hair care and makeup.
NF: Don’t you think that’s interesting the interesting the way that women buy things is really social? Most of the time I’m buying food or clothes or makeup, I’m with at least one friend.
RR: Exactly. If you aren’t with them physically, you’re with them digitally and you’re texting or emailing. That’s why we built this platform because that behavior already exists. We aren’t looking to change consumer behavior, we are just helping to facilitate it in an easy way by making it digital.
NF: What can you say about the intersection of beauty and tech. There aren’t a lot of beauty apps as applicable as yours and what do you think that intersection represents?
RR: The way I think of it is that your phone is very personal. It has your contacts, texts, emails, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Beauty is also personal, and I view them as one as in the same because they’re both very personal to women. It would make sense that you would have everything you do for beauty on your phone. We live and breathe it. Some people might not relate to this, but we wake up, we wash our face, we put on skin care products, we put on make up, we take off our make up at night, we put on skin care products and we do stuff for our hair. Beauty affects us everyday, which is why I felt that it needed to be in app form and very accessible.
NF: How do you make sure the products available on your app are accessible and inclusive for all women?
RR: That was always very important to us from the get go because we wanted to make sure MiaMia included all products as many as possible we integrated with a company that allows us to have a product database of 100,000 different beauty products.
We have a style quiz where we ask our users for their skin tone, their age their beauty concerns and how much make up they wear and over 80% of users fill out that style quiz.
NF: Pause. I decided to join that 80% and experiment with what it would be like to take MiaMia’s style quiz. I’m here with the app and we’re going to go through the process together.
We are going to select sign up with email and put in Burgundy fox. It asks for a bio, a website, a photo and you can also integrate this app with your Instagram, find contacts on your phone or invite a friend to join through an email or text.
I’m going to go ahead and follow Rita because she’s a friend of the pod and I know she’s got really great style.
Let’s take the style quiz.
Questions #1: How much make up do you typically wear?
Hmmm it’s a Wednesday, I’m a little tired…let’s say medium. Which represents your skin tone? There are six different paint brush strokes representing skin tones and I’m going to pic light medium.
Question #2: What are your main beauty concerns?
What’s not a beauty concern...definitely sun protection, definitely dark circles...haven’t had my coffee yet, and a little bit of oil.
Now MiaMia asks how old you are and this is important information because age directly informs the status of our skin and what our skins needs.
Okay, now we can start using the app. It says “let’s start by finding products you love tap the hear tot love and save to your profile.” Easy.
You have five tabs at the looks, activity, me, add and search. In looks you can look at other's looks they’ve posted online and you can like them and share them online.
The “Looks” tab is organized so that it’s in categories: all looks, date night, eyes, lips, skincare, face, hair and nails. It goes on.
If you click on the activity tab, you can see what people you follow have posted recently and then if you go to your own page you can look at what you’ve liked the products you’ve tagged for purchased later
On MiaMia, you can purchase products such as makeup skincare, haircare, fragrances, bath and body, hair accessories, and beauty tools. You can also search by brands or product category.
Let's pick skincare [as a product search category] because that’s something really important to me. And just like that you have so many products right in front of you including Glossier Generation G, a favorite product of mine which you can then share, go directly to the site to purchase and also read reviews. I think one of the strengths of MiaMia is that you are not only integrating into the purchasing process but you’re getting reviews firsthand from users who are experiencing these products.
It’s safe to say I’m hooked on this app. Now back to the pod.
NF: How frequently do you find yourself analyzing the number of of shares, the number people who have signed up and style quiz responses?
RR: That’s really where we have a ton of value in MiaMia is our data. Every single user interaction is logged not to sell or make public, but to make sure it’s a more usable tool for our users.
NF: What has surprised you the most about this data?
RR: What has surprised me is that so many people are willing to give personal information because they realize this will help the tool become more personalized. I’m also surprised by the amount of shares that occur within the platform. When we started this we felt that beauty was social, but to see it in the data really validates our original thesis for the company.
NF: Can you talk about what it’s like to work with advisors and what that relationship can be like?
RR: It’s really important to have advisors. One advisor doesn’t fit all needs. One may be from the industry, one may help with marketing, one may help with partnerships or finance. I definitely don’t know everything. This is my first business. I really want to lean on my network and lean on experts.
NF: That says so much about the fact that not only are you building your company, but those advisors are able to build their strengths by giving their advice to you. That’s a cool reciprocation.
How do you think technology will continue to influence the beauty industry?
RR: I’m fascinated by consumer intelligence with it comes to virtual reality and augmented reality. I think those will weave their way into the beauty digital experience. The question for me is whether or not the consumer is ready for it. Although I may try on a look from an app, it doesn’t mean I’m going to make a purchase. I probably want to lean on my friends or see if they have tried the products.
NF: What has it been like being an outsider to the beauty industry?
RR: Because I'm so data-driven, I’m really thinking about the business model and monetization and how to bring in costumers in a cost-efficient way. All my finance and business development background really helps the business. I really need to lean on the beauty industry experts to navigate and connect. We rely on them to create content and looks.
NF: What has been one of the scariest parts of starting this business?
RR: I’m self-funding the company so it’s very risky. We were able to release a good product in our version1 and the scary thing how do we keep it growing and also because I’m dipping into my savings so every day is scary as to whether is this going to be successful or not.
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