After co-launching online cosmetics retailer Adorebeauty.com.au in 1999, Kate Morris realised there was a further industry niche she could exploit via the web.
Noting numerous online forum posts comparing the thousands of different shades of foundation, Morris decided to launch Findation.
Findation works by inviting users to enter the products and shades they have found to match their skin previously.
The site then uses an algorithm to recommend similar shades in other brands and products, based on the matches entered by other foundation users.
Melbourne-based Morris explains how she’s going, starting up second time around.
What first gave you the idea for this business?
It came from trying to help Adorebeauty.com.au’s customers buy the right shade of foundation. Every day we’d get asked, “I want to try that new foundation, but I don’t know what colour I should get.”
On-screen swatches aren’t much help as every monitor is different, so I found myself wishing there was a big database of matching foundation shades that would tell people what colour to buy in each brand.
There wasn’t one. So we built it.
Can you explain a bit about how it works?
Findation uses crowdsourcing to create a database of matching foundation shades. Consumers enter the shades they’ve used before, and we then use an algorithm to recommend similar shades in other brands and products, based on the matches entered by other users.
Can you explain a bit about your background – you’re pretty well experienced in the eCommerce space, aren’t you?
I started Adorebeauty.com.au, an online cosmetics retailer, back in 1999 – it’s been running for over 12 years now. So, pretty experienced, yes.
Has it been easier starting up second time around?
Getting started is easy. Turning a start-up into a profitable business is the tricky part!
But, yes, it’s definitely easier second time around, with a better understanding of the industry and more capital and contacts to work with.
What convinced you there was a gap in the market for this?
Read any makeup forum and there are dozens of foundation discussions where people try to work out what colour they’ll need in a particular foundation.
Foundation is one of the biggest categories in makeup, but in terms of eCommerce it’s been limited to repurchases – either you get a low conversion rate or lots of returns.
I have no doubt that this will be a tremendous resource for both consumers and the industry.
How has the development process been?
It’s been in the works for a couple of years. The hardest thing was actually finding time to work on it, and then tech resources to get it done. Once we actually started building it, it all went pretty smoothly actually.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
Time. We’ve all got two or three projects on the go, and there’s always so much to be done.
How has the business been funded?
Bootstrapped, to date.
How will you make money from this?
There are several different options for monetisation. We don’t plan to charge consumers to use it, but it’s a tool that would be very useful to makeup brands, as well as to online retailers.
You’re in Beta mode at the moment – when do you anticipate you will fully launch?
We’re in public Beta. The site is fully functional, but the “beta” label indicates we’re not yet at a stage where we can return an accurate match for every user in every single foundation.
Gmail was in beta for five years – it certainly won’t be that long! A few months, probably.
What are your goals for the business? Do you have any sales targets you want to hit?
I’d like to get to 100,000 users. But once we get there I’ll want one million!