For many fast-growing start-ups, it all starts with one thing: THE problem. This problem is the catalyst for the company’s conception – their product and, ultimately, THE solution.
beautyblender Founder Rea Ann Silva discovered her “problem” as a Hollywood make-up artist nearly 15 years ago, working on HD film sets. As cameras zoomed-in for close-ups, she noticed that the high-definition lenses were capturing brush marks and finger prints from traditional application methods. After many iterations, she created the beautyblender – an edgeless aqua-activated, egg-shaped foam applicator.
However, the revolutionary solution to the ultimate problem does not mean the end to all problems; in fact, it opens the door to countless hurdles in growing and scaling your business. At our Grow Live event in Philadelphia, we had the opportunity to sit down with beautyblender’s Senior Manager for Web and IT Services Matthew Linde to hear his four tips for growth and overcoming some of the problems around hyper-growth.
Tip #1: Embrace Change.
Scalability is tough. beautyblender has scaled over the past 4 years from 40 people to over 130 team members. Their growth in headcount mirrors their growing demand from a variety of channels. “We had to figure out how to ingest massive orders through multiple streams. Then, at the same time, we had to handle the orders and fulfillment for all our mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar beauty stores and our ecommerce platform,” said Linde. Then, they added a whole new level of heartache and headache when they started shipping pressurized canisters internationally – a whole new venture. How do they keep up? Linde says they’re “constantly having to learn, innovate and figure out best practices” to stay ahead.
Tip #2: Take risks.
While this may be easier to conceptualize than to act on, it’s worth exploring new areas if the passion is there from leadership. The most recent product roll-out for beautyblender was their first step away from applicators – foundation. “This was a big endeavor for us because up to this point, to take a tool brand and turn it into a true cosmetics company” Linde shared. “But it was something the Founder was passionate about and knew, that like the original beautyblender, she had some special and unique, so we took the risk.” In this case, the risk resulted in one of the most successful foundation launches at Sephora to date. Now, they plan to continue pushing forward onto new horizons by continuing to expand both their tool and cosmetic categories. While not every opportunity will produce this level of success, it’s impossible to know without taking the risk.
Tip #3: Hire experts.
Hiring the right team is a key to managing growth; this includes finding your “experts.” “There’s somebody out there with more experience than you in this world. And if you ask a question, they’ll have an answer,” said Linde. “Whether that answer is right for you or not – you get to judge. Maybe it will be half of what you need, half wacky.” But, the half of what you need may be exactly what keeps the company driving forward and innovating. “My biggest advice: hire experts, listen to experts and use your best judgment.”
Tip #4: Implement the right tools.
As consumer demands increase, it’s becoming critical for companies to have systems that can support their growth and enable the company to answer these demands. Linde led the charge in evaluating new systems for beautyblender before settling on NetSuite as the right tool for their business. “We were at a place in the company where we were outgrowing QuickBooks and Fishbowl, and I was tasked with finding the next step for. I looked at 35 different ERP systems, and I narrowed it down to Sage, Infor and NetSuite,” Linde explained. Ultimately, SuiteSuccess’ quick uptime and the open API won them over. “The beautiful thing about NetSuite is that you can connect it with anything. We can draw data from all our platforms. For example, we can take our data from an EDI partner, plug it into the right places and poof – we have 400 sales orders.” For beautyblender, NetSuite’s unified platform has allowed them to focus less on transferring data between systems and more on expanding their product lines.
Check out our calendar to join us for future Grow Live events and learn how companies like beautyblender have scaled their business.