Sydney-based marketplace Glamazon acquired: Why it was time to hand over the reins

Glamazon

Glamazon co-founders Lauren Silvers and Lisa Maree. Source: supplied.

On-demand beauty startup Glamazon has had its assets acquired by Indian home-services platform Urban Company, in a deal that will see one founder stepping away from the business and moving back to the US.

Founded in late-2016 by Lauren Silvers and Lisa Maree, Glamazon provides a real-time booking platform for salons, freelance stylists and beauticians, connecting them to clients through an Uber-esque app.

All of the Sydney-based startup’s assets have now been sold to Urban Company, previously Urban Clap, which provides a similar marketplace for home services, from cleaning to repair jobs, as well as wellbeing and beauty.

The value of the acquisition has not been revealed.

Silvers will now be helping lead Urban Company’s entry into Australia as its first western market. Maree, however, is relocating to the US, where she will be focusing on her other business, an LA-based fashion label.

Good problems to have

In 2017, Silvers and Maree appeared on Channel 10’s Shark Tank. The night the show aired, Silvers tells SmartCompany, the business saw a 300% spike in user numbers, and a jump in revenue followed.

On the night, the startup saw more than $30,000 in revenues coming in the door within a matter of hours.

“And then it just kept building from there,” Silvers says.

“It was totally unexpected, and our website crashed and so did our app,” she adds.

“We were totally and utterly shocked.”

That experience was the catalyst to Glamazon becoming a national platform, the founder explains.

Silvers isn’t able to disclose revenue growth figures for the past few years, but she does reveal that at the time of the Shark Tank appearance, Glamazon had about 50 beauty professionals in Sydney and Melbourne. Afterwards, an influx of demand meant that quickly grew to about 300.

By 2019, the platform had about 1,700 professionals on the platform, all over Australia.

“It wasn’t without its challenges,” she says.

“When you experience growth of that level, it was really go-time.”

The traction meant they had to hire a new team very quickly, growing from just the two founders to a team of 11. They also secured $1.2 million in venture capital funding.

“It’s always a good problem to have.”

Collaboration over competition

Glamazon itself actually came about through a merger between two startups — one headed up by Silvers, the other by Maree.

“We were competitors who decided to come together,” she explains.

“We saw collaboration as a much larger opportunity than competing.”

When it came down to the deal with Urban Company, the founders found themselves in a similar position.

“It was a total alignment in our mission.”

Glamazon is all about empowering beauty professionals, Silvers explains. And the co-founders wanted to take this concept even further, providing training and masterclasses, and embarking on product partnerships.

That would have required another capital raise, she says.

“When we learnt of Urban Company … we realised they’re doing exactly that, and they’re the only company around the world that are doing exactly that.”

The larger company has also shown there’s a global demand here — it’s currently active in 22 cities worldwide.

For Silvers, it’s about empowering the freelancers and small businesses on the Glamazon platform to take their own careers to the next level, she says.

“We felt it was a really great alignment and good timing.”

“Losing my baby”

When asked whether an acquisition was always in Glamazon’s gameplan, Silvers says the co-founders never really considered an exit at all.

Like many founders, they focused on six-monthly targets, which were broken down into month-by-month plans.

“That’s as far into the future as you look,” she says.

“We were so focused on hitting our targets and our goals all the time, you don’t really have time to think about how you’re going to package up your business and sell it to someone.

“That was never the goal.”

However, she also notes that the early merger in the startup’s history meant both co-founders were open to the possibility if it offered a growth opportunity.

That said, handing over the reins of the business they’ve built from scratch was an emotional decision.

“When we were first talking about joining forces with Urban Company there was a bit of emotion at the thought of losing my baby … but that dissipated pretty quickly,” she says.

“Their values are so strong, and the founders are so passionate about their mission, and their vision is actually so ambitious,” Silvers explains.

“The main emotion I feel now is excitement and pride.”

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