I decided to launch my start-up askbella, Australia’s first Beauty Bot, during the height of the global pandemic. Was it scary? Absolutely. But I knew that there were two options for me: make the most of the extra time I had at home and give it a shot, or sit on my idea and watch someone else do it instead. I had thorough market knowledge through my work in the beauty industry and knew that I’d kick myself if someone else had the idea, so made it happen. While the journey so far has been full of ups and downs, I don’t have a single regret. Here are four things I have learnt on the askbella journey so far, to help guide you to making your idea a reality.
Don’t wait, just start
I was very excited when I had the initial idea of creating an AI tech product, but at the same time, I had lots of excuses in my mind: “I don’t know how to code”, “I don’t have enough money”, “I’ve never done this before”, “It’s too risky” etc. I knew if I wanted it badly enough, I couldn’t let these negative thoughts stop me, so I decided to start ASAP. The sooner I started, the less excuses I could make. The trick for me to stop worrying about the final huge achievement was to break the goals into smaller weekly and daily tasks. In that process, I was able to train my mind to believe in myself.
Build a product for your customers, not for yourself
To bring a new product to market you need to focus on what your customers need, instead of features that could be “cool” or “different”. The whole process starts with knowing your customers and the market you’re entering. I spent a lot of time talking to our potential customers and figuring out their pain points to help me map out problem that askbella was going to solve. It paid off – market research was invaluable in realising that 74 per cent of our core market were experiencing the problem we wanted to solve. Our customers have been key to product development ever since.
Focus on your superpowers
As a founder, it’s not possible to do all the work by yourself. However, it is essential to know your unique superpowers – the skills you’re best at, and the tasks that only you can do in the team. For me, that was building relationships with beauty brands, customer experience and growth marketing. I decided to recruit experts at elements I was less experienced at, like graphic design, and have since built a fantastic team full of the best talent overseeing all the different departments in the business. You can’t achieve your goal alone forever; having a great team is more important than a well-tailored business plan on paper.
Perfection is good, but not when you launch an early-stage start-up, especially an MVP. In the very beginning, we made the mistake of planning what the final product should look like, the entire customer journey we need to cover, and every small UI design we needed to include. Unfortunately, a complex project at such an early stage resulted in a lot of wasted time and frequent delays. We then changed our mindset and decided to launch an easy-to-use platform that solves the core user problem most quickly. You will never know where to pivot until you have launched and have tangible feedback from your users. As the saying goes, beware running before you can walk!
Elaine Yang, Founder, askbella