- Insight: Not all money is smart money. Ensure that you are partnering with investors that can give you strategic advice..
Thursday, July 27th, 2023
Before you hang out with Fiona Co Chan you’re going to need to Pregame and BYOB. And when we say that what we really mean is you should be wearing Youthforia’s Pregame Primer and BYO Blush. Youthforia’s point of differentiation isn’t just the clever nomenclature. Youthforia stands out through its “Green Chemistry” principles where at least 90% of ingredients are naturally derived. Another tenant of Youthforia is being able to sleep in your makeup. As such, sleeping in new formulas is a mandatory step in the testing process. Check out our case study on How Fiona Started to learn more!
Fiona can't disclose all of her raising, but here are some of her investors:
How She Started: What's Youthforia’s story?
Fiona Co Chan: Before Youthforia started, when the pandemic hit, I was stuck in Asia and it was the first week where I didn't put my makeup on. I realized for me that makeup is actually about connecting with people. When I put on makeup I know I’m going to see friends and have a good time. However, I’m someone who, when I'm out with friends sleep in my makeup.
I've been doing this since I was 18 and I realized that I'm probably someone who's never going to stop doing that. So I thought "Wouldn't it be great if there was makeup that you could sleep in?" I had a lot of time when the pandemic hit, so that's where all the great ideas for Youthforia came from. Ideas like making a brand without fossil fuels or liquid microplastics. Or transforming makeup into skincare.
HSS: Many people struggle with raising money and how much equity to give away during raises. Why did you raise money? How did you determine the equity that you wanted to give away? What were other factors that you considered?
FC: We bootstrapped the business when I first started. I didn't think anyone would give me money for my crazy idea of making makeup that you can sleep in. Especially because I did not come from the industry.
I decided to raise when I came to a point where I could see not only the viability of the brand but also the growth potential. As I was creating a strategy for Youthforia, I knew that I needed additional financial support and strategic advice. I speak to my investors, including Mark Cuban, quite regularly and they all bring a unique perspective.
HSS: How do you think you were able to raise that amount?
FC: I actually knew some of my investors beforehand. I did a mentorship program with True Beauty Ventures a couple of months before they invested. My mindset was geared towards raising especially as I was preparing for Shark Tank.
HSS: How did you acquire your first customers?
FC: My mom was my very first customer. Then it was friends and family. It spread through word of mouth. We then started posting on Instagram and TikTok. I had no followers. I wasn’t an influencer or content creator. Everyone that followed Youthforia was a friend.
The initial customers outside of friends and family came from organic social media. Then after 3 or 4 days, I had one customer (somebody I didn't know) purchase one of my products and I was very, very excited. I still remember their name to this day.
I started posting on TikTok and the brand took off a bit more after a couple of weeks. In the early days, my mom would order once a day just to make sure I wouldn't have any days with zero sales. She's very sweet!
HSS: How do you retain your customers?
FC: I try to figure out what people are struggling with from a makeup perspective. Makeup can sometimes be very hard to use. We show people how easy it is to use our products by sharing tips and tricks. We try to be as helpful as possible.
HSS: What is your growth strategy?
FC: High level, I like to make sure I am always providing value with the educational content we are creating. I still run our TikTok, so I'm creating content every single day. Every time I post I ask myself “Am I providing value?” If you are asking for people’s attention you want to make it count. That requires me to be extremely nimble with our content strategy because people could be moving on to a different trend and they are then interested in something else a couple of months later. I always try to think about creating value for someone.
HSS: Was there a time when you felt this was not worth pursuing?
FC: My gut always told me this was what I'm meant to do. There's definitely so much self-doubt though.
HSS: Do you have any advice for female-founded businesses?
FC: When you are going through your entrepreneurial journey you develop a lot of resilience. I’m so used to things going wrong now and it makes me feel like I'm a completely different person because of this resilience. When things come up I know we can get through anything.
HSS: What are your lessons learned so far?
FC: As a founder, whatever company you create will always be personal to you. You should always use that personal connection to the brand as an advantage. My perspective and experience with Youthforia is one of my biggest strengths that no one can take away.
HSS: Thanks much for taking the time.
- Not all money is smart money. Ensure that you are partnering with investors that can give you strategic advice.
- Make sure you always network when given the opportunity.
- If you have a supportive mom make sure she knows you appreciate her. In Fiona’s case it seems like her mom was her biggest supporter.
- Find and address your customer’s pain points.
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