How an Innovative Startup Turned Retail On Its Head

While Harvard Business School grads Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna were looking for a business idea, they noticed that the beauty product industry was seriously behind the times on the online retail side. They discovered that some of the biggest pain points for customers included the overwhelming selection of products and the inability to get a hands-on experience with the items before making a purchase. With that in mind, they created Birchbox, a company that mails women a box containing four to five deluxe beauty products every month. Their customers can test out a handful of new products from home and brands benefit from follow up purchases when the samples run out.

Their unique approach to connecting qualified customers with deluxe brands got the attention of New York’s venture capital community and landed them a seed investment of $1.4 million, followed by a series A round of $10.5 million. Having hit their third year’s sales target in just seven months, Birchbox is now scaling their business model rapidly, as well as planning a new subscription offering targeted at men.

Check out our interview on Venture Studio with Beauchamp and listen to her tips on what entrepreneurs should be thinking about before meeting a potential investor, how she and her business partner manage the personal dynamics between co-founders and a look at the logistics of rapidly scaling a company.