This week Series W spoke to the founders of Virtuosa, a company that creates products that help users hack their beauty routine and spend more time on the things that matter.
Give us a brief description of Virtuosa.
A “Virtuosa” is a woman who is the best at whatever she does. Virtuosa Beauty takes ordinary products and reinvents them to be the smartest version possible. Our mission is to enable you to become your own virtuosa – the best version of yourself!
How did you develop the idea for Virtuosa?
During FIELD 3, we were brainstorming the pain points of our beauty routine and realized that hair is the biggest time investment, so we wanted to find a way to preserve women’s hairstyles as long as possible. Existing shower caps can cause frizziness, creasing and many times don’t keep hair fully dry (especially around the edges!), so many women opt to continue washing their hair every day. We created a completely different, patent-pending design that is actually waterproof and allows women to perfectly preserve their hairstyle in the shower. Our first product is the Virtuosa shower cap, and we plan to create more products that help you Hack Your Beauty Routine™ and spend more time on things that matter.
What has it been like founding a business with close friends?
We’ve actually become very close friends through the process of starting the company. When we first started working on the idea, we just shared similar interests. Even though we’re sectionmates, we come from different professional backgrounds and have skillsets that complement each other well. That diversity keeps the day to day operations running smoothly and allows us to continuously challenge each other’s thinking. We all have a “get it done” mentality, but we also have a lot of fun because we truly believe in the mission of the company.
What’s been your biggest WFIO (we’re f*****, it’s over) moment so far?
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t have major let down at least once a month, and frankly, you have setbacks almost every week. Overall, the process of building a company is a series of amazing highs and scary lows. Just to give one example, we had our hearts set on a particular distribution channel that seemed perfect for our product. We believed this was our path to scaling and worked towards this goal for about a month, but the more we learned, we realized it wasn’t the answer we had hoped it would be. It was hard to admit to ourselves we needed to pivot, but we have since completely changed our long term go-to-market strategy.
What has been the most exciting moment so far?
There are so many awesome moments, it’s hard to pick one! When we gave out early prototypes to our friends, they would not give them back – they loved them so much, they actually stole them from us! There was also a time we were demonstrating the product in a hair salon, and a random person walked up, whipped out his checkbook and ordered 20 on the spot. That felt pretty great.
You started Virtuosa while at HBS. Which HBS resources have been the most helpful and why?
Put simply, it’s the people. The alumni, professors, mentors, entrepreneurs-in-residence and your peers working on their own ventures. Basically, have a lot of conversations. If you have a day or two without any meetings on your calendar to talk to someone in the HBS network about your business, you aren’t leveraging these valuable resources enough!
What advice would you give to this year’s crop of FIELD 3 teams?
We completely pivoted halfway through FIELD, so we didn’t form the team based on passion for the idea – that just naturally happened. We would say it’s mostly important to put together a group of people who can work well together and have fun. And if your initial idea isn’t gaining traction, don’t be afraid to pivot! We were rated one of the top teams in our section, and we didn’t think of the shower cap until halfway through the process.
After shower caps, what parts of your beauty routines would you like to see “hacked?”
We have some other ideas for clever hair products, as well as improving the process of doing and removing your makeup. We’ve also thought about how doing your nails at home is overly difficult. Right now, though, we’re 100% focused on the shower cap!
Check out the Virtuosa shower cap on www.virtuosabeauty.com! Use the promo code HBSWSA to save 15% on purchases through Thanksgiving.