Startup News & Analysis

Sydney startup FLAYR raises $500,000 to better deliver at-home beauty services

Angela Castles /

FLAYR

Subhaga Amarasekara with co-founder Roshan Mahanama and their son. Source: Supplied.

On-demand beauty startup FLAYR has raised $500,000 in a seed funding round, led by Sydney Angels, Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund 2 and private investors, as it looks to drive Australia-wide growth.

FLAYR was co-founded by Subhaga Amarasekara and her husband Roshan Mahanama in 2016 as a way to connect time-poor Australian women with hair stylists and makeup artists offering at-home services.

“The philosophy behind FLAYR is to try to help makeup artists and stylists earn more money from doing what they love,” Amarasekara says.  

FLAYR was originally started as a way to help Amarasekara’s makeup artist mother-in-law manage her clients and bookings. Once the platform started gaining traction, the co-founders doubled down on their efforts and focused on building out their offering commercially. FLAYR now has 800 stylists on the platform and has turned over $1 million from bookings since launching.

This cash injection will be used to drive growth in Australia and expand FLAYR’s stylist base, which includes spending more time consulting with stylists to improve their experience on the platform.

The work-life balance myth

Raising your first round of funding is always a daunting experience. For Amarasekara, being seven-and-a-half months pregnant during the pitching process added even more pressure.

But instead of shying away from seeking investment during this time, Amarasekara met investors with an upfront approach.

“I couldn’t hide that I was about to have a baby, and I already have another son, so when I talked to investors I said I had children,” she says.

“Investors know your history and understand this inevitable juggle, so being upfront was quite good for us.”  

With a background in commercial litigation, Amarasekara says the flexibility of the startup world allows her to better juggle scaling a fast-growing startup and raising a family, but the founder admits finding a balance is still a constant struggle.

“I don’t know if there’s really such a thing as work-life balance,” she admits.

“Investors have been quite happy to have a baby come along we joke our son is our youngest board member.”

Ready to raise? Have a clear mission

For Amarasekara, seeking investment isn’t just about receiving capital it’s also about finding investors who are value-adding collaborators.

“The investors who are asking you a lot about your business are the investors you want to have on board,” she advises.

“Instead of someone trying to give you their opinion on the market, look for investors who can be in a collaborative process.”

Having a clear mission and vision for your startup will also help bring investors along on this collaborative journey, according to Amarasekara.

“Be very clear in your vision and your mission. As a startup you’re going to make pivots, but as long as you have a mission that everyone is working towards, then investors want to support you to get to that place,” she says.

“If everyone is very clear with that mission it makes it a lot easier to get funding and get support.”

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles is a former StartupSmart journalist.

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