- October 14, 2021
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Woman Using Smartphone
Our phones are no longer just a way to communicate. From banking to scheduling appointments to streaming videos, our phones are inseparable from our daily lives – a Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey found 51.9% of Gen Z says their smartphone is “their life.”
Prosper – How Do You Use Your Smartphone
Mobile apps have also unlocked massive potential for businesses which previously focused solely on web. A Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey found that over 23% of Gen Z’s transactions at store checkout counters are now made with their phones. But even with a greater adoption toward digital platforms, most small businesses have fallen behind. No place is this more true than in the beauty industry, as many salons and spas still utilize paper planners and spreadsheets to manage their business operations.
Prosper – Smartphone Activities – Mobile Payment
GlossGenius wants to solve this problem, and their mission has become even more relevant during the past year, as small independent businesses struggle to stay afloat. The startup offers software and hardware that helps business owners to run their entire set of daily business operations digitally, which in turn increases bookings and revenue.
I recently spoke with Danielle Cohen-Shohet, co-founder and CEO of GlossGenius, to talk about why the beauty industry has been slow to adopt digital solutions and her approach to building comprehensive, vertically integrated solution.
Gary Drenik: Tell me about GlossGenius and where the idea came from?
Danielle Cohen-Shohet: GlossGenius is an all-in-one business software that helps small business owners manage every aspect of their business, grow their client base, increase bookings, and maximize income. Our product enables tens of thousands of businesses to be successful, and is a gateway to entrepreneurship for individuals that want to pursue their passions. Today, we serve salons, spas, and studios, and the opportunity to empower many small businesses as we grow is exciting.
The inspiration for GlossGenius came as a few areas of interest collided. While I was in college, I started a side business doing makeup artistry, which was a passion of mine, and saw firsthand the pain points of managing client relationships and a business. At the same time, I was intrigued by retail POS and had started working at a digital receipts app startup. During that time, I had the opportunity to learn programming which ultimately allowed me to put it all together into what is now GlossGenius, a hybrid software-payments company helping tens of thousands of business owners in the beauty and wellness space.
Drenik: Why do you think small businesses have been slower to adopt financial services technology and marketing technology?
Cohen-Shohet: Many small businesses use pen and paper or manual tracking for day-to-day operations. This makes it nearly impossible to grow efficiently given the administrative burden and room for errors. For small business owners, their business is not just a passion, but also their livelihood. Many have fear when it comes to switching the tools they use to run their business or shaking up operations, because any mistakes can lead to losing money.
We want to play an active role in helping businesses overcome this fear by alleviating common blockers, and overcoming the inertia of getting started. GlossGenius offers concierge onboarding services, where customers can get support with every aspect of getting up and running on our product — even if it means taking transactions recorded in a notebook and entering them into GlossGenius.
Drenik: What do you think the biggest pain points are for small businesses from an operational standpoint?
Cohen-Shohet: One of the biggest burdens as a small business owner is having to be responsible for every single thing with very little support. You’re not only the owner and chief executive, you’re also the chief finance, operations and marketing officer. Wearing all these hats can be especially difficult when really, you want to focus on your passion and what made you want to start a business in the first place.
To alleviate these points, business owners try to implement different software to help with each. This doesn’t really solve the problem as much as it just shifts the focus. Instead of managing marketing strategies, owners are now just managing a bunch of different tools and products.
Many of the existing options are expensive, mass market plans from large SaaS providers. They’re more than they need, and yet at the same time meet none of their actual specific needs. Their multitude of features seems great on paper but in reality, they’re hard for small businesses to configure and use.
Drenik: As the world re-opens, what trends are you seeing among how your tech is being used?
Cohen-Shohet: The businesses we work with are steadily recovering and increasing sales. Transaction volume on GlossGenius is back to pre-pandemic levels. Our data has also shown bookings at salons, spas and studios are up nationwide.
We’ve also seen our technology become a key factor in enabling more entrepreneurship. The pandemic led to many stylists splitting off from larger salons to start their own business. With a central system like GlossGenius, many professionals have gained the confidence and infrastructure to forge their own path. Our tech is also being used to make the world a safer place through features like contactless payments and scheduling. This has been especially helpful with contact tracing, since there’s a record of what clients have been seen and when.
Drenik: Talk to us about the “all-in-one” approach to building a business technology vs. point solutions that solve one specific need?
Cohen-Shohet: We believe the best way to support business owners and set them up for success is by offering one solution that handles absolutely everything. The new term for this is “business-in-a-box,” meaning it’s one tool that essentially allows you to launch a business. We offer automated appointment scheduling, client management, built-in marketing tools and reporting on business metrics. Business owners have a holistic view of their company from one place, so nothing falls through the cracks.
Running a small business is hard because business owners are required to do everything. Point solutions that solve a specific need may seem helpful in isolation but in practice, actually complicate the challenges of running a small business. Point solutions are just another thing for business owners to manage compared to an all-in-one solution that can consolidate systems for clients and solve problems across multiple different point solution products.
Drenik: GlossGenius is a great example of a technology that does a bunch of different things well. How do you think about prioritization and product building to ensure that remains the case?
Cohen-Shohet: Evaluating tradeoffs is important, but ultimately one of the best ways to prioritize and approach product building is just to listen to customers. I truly believe this makes many of our decisions a bit easier to navigate. For example, shutdowns during the pandemic were especially difficult for small businesses in the beauty and wellness industry. We were hearing how many of our customers had to close all operations for months on end. During this time, it was clear that we needed to pivot efforts toward helping customers navigate the shutdowns so we shifted the roadmap a bit to make this happen.
New features that would have taken months to develop were released in days to help customers sell online, contactless payment readers were shipped to minimize spread, and as a company we struck up relationships overnight with lenders to facilitate loan applications for customers in days. The entire team shifted gears to help customers understand applications. We wanted to show our customers that we support them not just when they’re doing well, but also during times of need.
Drenik: Thanks Danielle for sharing more about the all-in-one approach to small business SaaS programs as well as your company’s approach. As the world continues to reopen, I’m sure we’ll see a continued push to alleviate the pain points on small businesses today.
I cover consumer-centric insights and analytics that provide executives with solutions needed to drive strategy. I am the CEO of Prosper Business Development where, for
I cover consumer-centric insights and analytics that provide executives with solutions needed to drive strategy. I am the CEO of Prosper Business Development where, for more than 20 years, we have provided market leadership and developed contemporary solutions to help Fortune 500 companies navigate change that impacts their business. I got my start in the radio industry.