Billions of women spend billions of dollars every year on beauty. It’s an obsession for some, a daily practice for most and one of those industries that even the most tech savvy nerds can’t ignore.
Funded by one million dollars from an army of all-star investors, Vu Nguyen co-founded Beautylish, a social network for the beauty space, with entrepreneurs Nils Johnson and Sameer Iyengar. Investors include infamous SV Angel Ron Conway, Naval Ravikant, the Co-founder of Epinions.com, Max Levchin, the Co-founder of PayPal, Steve Chen, the Co-founder of YouTube, Jeremy Stoppelman the CEO of Yelp, James Hong, the Co-founder of HOT or NOT and one woman- Mariam Naficy, the founder and CEO of Minted.
Thanks to the web browsing habits of a former girlfriend, Nguyen noticed a lack of quality in beauty sites, and thought, “Let’s build something with rich content, a great UI and make it social. We saw these girls with millions of YouTube views and recognized that they needed a better outlet for this.” Beautylish has attracted a number of beauty advice giving YouTube stars because it gives them a community and targeted audience on a sleek platform.
Since its launch last October 2010, the site has amassed over 50,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 user-generated videos on topics like how to create different types of looks and how to use different types of products. While Nguyen won’t comment on the exact number of users, he says the site has 1,000 superb video content creators and that its users are generally females between the age of 14-24.
We’re at the beginning of what you can actually build and do with the beauty industry. Right now it’s like a virtual makeup counter driven by your friends. You can share information with other people who are similar to you either in attributes, style or taste. There’s a discovery element on the site that is missing from YouTube. Beauty is a niche vertical, one that needs its own platform.
CEO Vu Nguyen
Ning Chao, Beautylish’s Beauty Director, was most recently the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire and is the face of Beautylish, adding a professional appeal to the site. “While our content is community created, we wanted an editorial voice to help us guide and curate the information out there. Chao is helping us fill in the gap where traditional media hasn’t been tough enough to move towards the Internet,” says Nguyen.
The site requires a Facebook login, which Nguyen says provides Beautylish with a positive and genuine community. Users can personalize their profiles, choose custom URLs and Like favorite brands and products. Users are driven purely by passion; there are no incentives such as discounted beauty products in exchange for giving advice. Beautylish is currently pre-revenue but may incorporate non-traditional advertising in the future.
So just like Yelp changed the way that people find and discover local businesses, Beautylish wants to tap crowdsourced information to change the way we discovery and learn about beauty.
Bottom line: The site’s aim is simple- take an industry that hasn’t been brought online yet in a successful way. Make it social. Make it beautiful. Beautylish is packed with terrific information aimed at young teens and is a great outlet for young men and women who want to launch their careers in the beauty business. Now, if only Beautylish could turn my screensaver into a mirror, that would be awesome.