If you’d have told me two years ago that, during a global pandemic, I would be signing the paperwork to receive sufficient investment to get Glowday, my third child, properly on its feet, I’d have laughed in your face!
Raising £3.8m seed investment is a far cry from my previous life as a science teacher/stay-at-home mum. So, to reach this point and know we now have the fuel to build an amazing product, continue hiring a top-class team and begin mass marketing is exciting. Actually, it’s really bloody brilliant!
I have to confess though….
- I had no experience in raising money or working in finance
- I had never led a start-up or any business before
- I had very little experience in aesthetics
Here’s the thing though, I’ve come to realise you have to be outside an industry to truly see it as a consumer and to recognise it may need fixing. And the thing about the aesthetics industry, to the average consumer, it’s confusing and well, a little bit scary. What treatments are available? Can I even afford it? Who should I see? What should I be looking for in a practitioner? What should I expect when I have a treatment? Will it hurt?!
The complete lack of regulation, the stigma surrounding non-surgical treatments and the prevalence of horror stories in the media are all part of the reason many people discount non-surgical treatments.
I can honestly say, non-surgical treatments have been instrumental in transforming the way I feel about myself. I’m a huge believer in women looking and feeling great and having the choice to do this however they see fit, safely and without judgement. I was convinced there was a better way to educate clients and to help them find phenomenal practitioners to help them get their glow on.
In May 2018, I began researching…obsessively! Reading, watching, listening to podcasts, speaking to practitioners, canvassing opinion from friends and family. I began to piece together the idea for Glowday. However, before seriously investing our own money, the idea had to be validated. So, after hiring a freelance digital designer to build out the Glowday brand and some website screens, a small meeting room in a Bristol hotel was hired and a few clinic owners and clients were invited to come and chat over tea and biscuits. We discussed the concept of a new digital platform, one that connected new clients with medically qualified practitioners and showed some branding concepts and mock-ups the Glowday website. It wasn’t rocket science, but we got a big thumbs up and had validated the concept. Glowday was now A THING! I continued to work on developing the Glowday website and business plan, in between nursery and school runs, wiping bums, cooking and cleaning, whilst my husband, Joby, continued to work as Chief Marketing Officer for Purplebricks.
I’m one of those people exceptional at nothing, but half-decent at many things, so my amateur grasp of Excel meant that Joby and I could pull together a financial model for Glowday. Having held my first tech planning meeting with nine blokes sat around our kitchen table, and amending the financial model accordingly, it became very apparent, very quickly, that we could not build Glowday as I wanted by continuing to self-fund it. We came to realise that tech companies almost always ‘burn’ a shit ton of cash before they become sustainable, and you need enough ‘runway’ to allow your business to take flight. We needed to raise a substantial sum of money in order to bring Glowday to life.
Other than Dragon’s Den, I knew nothing of Angels and Venture Capitalists. I’ve come to learn that some business ideas, like Glowday, warrant investment in return for equity, even at a very early stage. In fact, for some businesses, you can raise money purely off a PowerPoint presentation before a line of computer code is even written.
In May 2019, I finally convinced Joby that to make Glowday work, we both needed to be “on it” full time (and some!). We knew to give ourselves the best chance of raising money we had to show progress and demonstrate decent execution, even if we hadn’t started trading.
We gave ourselves three objectives:
1. Hire an awesome team capable of building something very special
2. Develop as much of the product we possibly can
3. Have a launch TV/Social media campaign ready to go
With a team of 12 of us, consisting of people from household brands and exciting start-ups, a TV / Social media campaign developed by the same people behind H&M and Nivea ads and a beautiful software product in development, we felt we were in a really strong position. We were chomping at the bit, raring to go. Then COVID happened…Great, bloody great!
In May 2020, many investors have run to the hills during COVID, money has dried up and self-preservation is the order of the day. Imagine trying to pitch the idea of Glowday during a pandemic, “Please invest in our start-up. We are pre-launch and pre-revenue. Oh, and all the clinics who have joined us are closed, so no treatments can be booked until…well we don’t know when.”
Luckily for us, we’d managed to secure a wonderful investor and despite our concerns, they backed us. They backed us to get on and nail it. After hearing about so many other start-ups losing investment deals, our understandable concerns that we may also fail to get funding were unfounded. We are over the moon that Horatio Investments have joined us on our journey to celebrating amazing practitioners, enabling consumers to book in confidence. A mission we can now accelerate.
The next stage is to continue inviting clinics to join Glowday. It’s been incredible to welcome so many phenomenal practitioners onto Glowday. I can honestly say we have an exceptional bunch of practitioners. They say your vibe attracts your tribe and that has certainly been true of our early clinics. Over 150 have registered as of today, so a HUGE thank you for believing in our story and taking the time to join us, even before we’ve officially launched. Not long now…we’re ready…we just need the green light from Bo Jo.