Posted: Wed 10th Jul 2019
Nidhima Kohli gave up a six-figure salary in banking to launch My Beauty Matches, which matches online shoppers to the best beauty products.
She shares her story and offers advice to other entrepreneurs.
How did you come up with the idea for My Beauty Matches?
I was extremely time-poor and tired of having to surf multiple sites to find the products I wanted to buy. I was also frustrated with sales assistants constantly offering me biased and wrong advice.
I noticed millions of women were struggling with the same issue so I decided to launch My Beauty Matches, now the UK's largest online marketplace to shop for beauty products with personal recommendations. Time-poor women can shop for all the brands they love from multiple retailers in one place, with personal and unbiased recommendations saving them both time and hassle.
What have been your key business challenges so far and how have you overcome them?
The first year proved to be really challenging as I put all the building blocks together. My past experience was working in strategy in investment banking and not in an online company.
As a keen beauty enthusiast, I qualified as an international beautician at The London College of Beauty on the side, and that's when the greatest challenge started for me. I knew I wanted to build My Beauty Matches but I had no idea where to begin.
I read numerous books, conducted intense online research, cold-called, attended several events and networked and gathered advice from whoever and wherever I could. To overcome the challenges, I had to teach myself everything from design and marketing, to editorial and running a business.
I got some great mentors on board and then started building my team. Now we have over 1,500 brands online, including Estee Lauder, MAC and Bumble and Bumble, all under one roof, catering to the busy woman on the go.
How have you funded your business?
So far, the business has been privately funded. I left my very lucrative career and invested everything in the business. I bootstrapped the company as long as I could and even slept on an airbed up until last year!
If you don't fully commit to your business then how can you expect others to? The business is now growing faster than expected after our rebrand from My Beauty Compare to My Beauty Matches, so I'm sure sometime in the near future we'll be looking to fundraise too.
What's your marketing strategy?
Personality, personality, personality! We strongly believe our community wants to connect with us as people, not as a corporate. We have been relying heavily on social media and word of mouth, and that's where we started building our community.
We make sure our content and social channels are both informative and fun, so people can relate to it and enjoy themselves. We're so grateful for all the positive feedback we've received so far from people from the UK, Egypt and the US, for example.
The international exposure we've garnered has steadily increased through word of mouth. We recently started working with bloggers, and we see that as the next part of our marketing strategy.
Which other entrepreneurs inspire you and why?
It sounds a bit cliché but the first person would be my father Sudhir Kohli, who left India back in the day with nothing and has since built a number of successful businesses. His great work ethic, ambition and ability to work through everything with a calm mindset is really infectious; he is someone I tremendously aspire to become one day.
The next would be Lopo Champalimaud, founder of Wahanda. He's built a successful marketplace for beauty treatments, which helps both the consumers and the businesses. At My Beauty Matches, we do the same but for beauty products, so I really look up to him and hope to be as successful one day.
The last one would be Geert-Jan Bruinsma, the founder of Booking.com. He's built the most user-friendly hotel booking site that everyone can use, and I look forward to growing My Beauty Matches to the same level.
Where do you hope your business will be in five years time?
I have a lot of plans, but for now let's just say I expect it to be global.
What advice would you offer others looking to set up a business in the beauty industry?
My first tip is educate yourself as much as you can in your field. If you're looking to launch a product, make sure you understand marketing, branding, PR, logistics, expenses, how to work with bloggers and journalists, and also the financial side of running a business.
My second tip is hire or partner up with people much better than you in fields where you have no expertise.
Third, don't look at what others are doing. It's rarely about the idea and more about the execution. For instance, booking.com was not the first online hotel booking site, and OPI not the first nail varnish brand.
The last tip I offer is build an amazing product and the rest will follow.
Why would you recommend people come to the Beauty Exchange?
To learn great tips on how to take their idea or business to the next level. As hundreds of people will be attending, it's a great opportunity to meet the people you need to know in the industry, all at the same time.
The Beauty Exchange 2022
Looking to start or grow a beauty business? Join inspiring retail buyers from famous beauty brands and get inspired by experts from the beauty and cosmetics industry at the Beauty Exchange (virtual event) on 15 July 2022.