• Women 2.0 HowTo Conference San Francisco, September 30 - October 1, 2014

From Investment Banker to Founder of a Beauty Startup

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Founder Friday London Speaker Nidhima Kohli explains her winding road from investment banking to entrepreneurship, and what she learned along the way.

By Nidhima Kohli (Founder & CEO, MyBeautyCompare)

Like most other savvy, modern women today, I had a very busy life and I worked in a role where I did not see myself being in ten years time. I always had a very entrepreneurial spirit. However, working as an investment banker advising CEOs for the top investment banks, I really did not have much time to myself or to come up with ideas. So I read lots of inspirational books on the tube on my way to work and one thing stuck in mind, which was to create something that you need for yourself and trust that millions of other people would probably feel the same way!

My Lightbulb Moment

One day on my busy work trips to New York where I was sent to advise the ex-governor of New Jersey, I was in need of a really good eye cream that would make my eyes less puffy. I had spent a lot of money on a product that did not work for me, and like most other women, I was too busy to read through multiple blogs to find the right product. I asked sales assistants at the airport and read magazines and I just became more confused, overwhelmed and frustrated with the choices out there.

That is when I had my light bulb moment. If I couldn’t find a single source of information that gave me independent product recommendations based on my age, skin type, diet and other attributes at the best price, then neither could millions of other women. So that is when I decided to quit my job and create MyBeautyCompare. Now on the site any women can provide her personal attributes such as hair length, lifestyle choices and age, and instantly discover her personalised beauty product matches based on independent social recommendations from thousands of women with the same profile. It is unbiased, instant and free. I also created the world’s first price comparison site for beauty, so all busy women can discover the right product for them at the right prices.

From Idea to Execution

Like most other founders, I was very happy to have found a brilliant idea, but had no clue on how to create MyBeautyCompare. I knew I would need a developer but did not know where to find one. I knew I would need beauty products but I did not know where to get them. I could not even decide on the best brand name for some time! So I decided to ask for advice and help from everywhere — friends and family — and one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to stop researching everything and just start lean.

I still remember the day I bought the domain for MyBeautyCompare, it was the first step to actually creating it, but little did I know that was just the start. I had to learn about social media, SEO, contacting brands, creating a website, image sourcing, legal elements and plenty more. So I started working crazy hours, having less of a social life and attending many events where I could gain some knowledge for my industry. What got me through it all is my passion for MyBeautyCompare.

MyBeautyCompare has seen 1300% growth since launch. We have over 50,000 women following us, over 1,500 brands on board, and many positive reviews. We won an award and just been nominated for another one, and now are seeing investors approaching us.

For anyone else who is looking to start their own business my top five tips would be:

  1. Build a product for which there is a need in the market
  2. Be passionate about what you do because you WILL be working long hours
  3. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge, you have to start one day and if you don’t take the risk then why would anyone else take the risk on you?
  4. Network and ask people you know for help. Generally we all love helping other people if we can so why not also ask for help?
  5. Focus on building a great product, and the investors will find you!

Want to meet other founders and aspiring founders? Come to Founder Friday in London or 19 other cities worldwide.

3fce91bAbout the guest blogger: After a six-year stint in investment banking, Nidhima Kohli founded MyBeautyCompare to revolutionize the way women buy beauty products forever. She studied at Cass Business School, speaks six languages and picked up the Crown for Miss CommonWealth Asia Pacific along the way.