Launching a startup without any business experience can be difficult.
But that didn’t stop Crisanti Indiana — who was just 24 when she co-founded Social Bella.
“You have nothing to lose, that’s actually the advantage of starting young,” Indiana, now 31, told CNBC’s Make It.
The Indonesian beauty and personal care retailer has raised nearly $225 million since 2018 and has an impressive list of investors that includes East Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Temasek.
The business started in 2015 as an e-commerce platform called Sociola, but has since expanded to 48 stores in Indonesia and 13 stores in Vietnam.
Indiana tells CNBC Make It how she transformed her startup into a multi-million dollar beauty company.
1. Be agile
When running a business, adapting to change is paramount, Indiana said, especially when you least expect it.
Like all businesses around the world, Indiana had to navigate the Covid pandemic, which coincided with his company’s fifth anniversary, he said.
“We were so excited in 2020 … we had so many campaigns and events planned, and then the pandemic hit. It was pretty shocking,” Indiana added.
“There was a lockdown and the mood was very different. Not only for the customers but also for the team.”
As chief marketing officer, Indiana led a rapid change in direction by pivoting to online events “at a very confusing time” and focusing on self-care from home makeup.
“It was a steep learning curve because you also have to manage the team, make sure everyone is OK and let them know we can get through this together,” Indiana said.
“It’s about making sure you’re agile enough to go through dynamic changes.”
2. Do what is right
The idea for Sociola came about in 2015, when Indiana discovered the online proliferation of fake makeup products in Indonesia.
These products were sometimes sold at “a fraction” of the original price, he said.
The e-commerce platform was the solution to Indiana’s problem — through it, consumers could get products that were safe, authentic and certified by Indonesian authorities.
“Since we started … we make sure that we only work with authorized distributors or only brand owners.”
When you have a business, you want it to succeed. But at the same time, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing.
Co-Founder and CMO, SocialBella
But that approach wasn’t easy, especially when awareness of the authenticity of beauty products was low, Indiana said.
“When you have a business, you want it to succeed. But at the same time, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” he adds.
“It was a challenge to really educate consumers that cheaper doesn’t always mean better.”
But that strategy seems to have paid off. Social time is now According to Indiana, more than 30 million users across all its business units, selling an inventory of 12,000 products from 400 brands worldwide.
The business has caught the eye of investors – its latest round of funding led by US private equity firm L Catterton raised $56 million.
“It’s been a long journey but I’m really proud that we’ve chosen to do the right thing from day one to today.”
3. Choose the right leader
Never one to hold back being a young entrepreneur, Indiana admits there was “a lot” she didn’t know about running a business.
That’s why Indiana Social Bella attributes part of its success to the diverse backgrounds and skills of its co-founders.
Indiana, who has a background in the creative arts, leads branding and marketing — while her brother and president Christopher Medium, who studied computing, brings technical knowledge to the table.
John Rasjid, CEO of Social Bella, has a background in finance
“Having my two co-founders is really important to me, we support each other and we have a really great dynamic.”
His brother Madiam, who has been Indiana’s role model since childhood, has been a special source of strength, he said.
“He constantly pushes me to grow, learn and take on challenges with an open mind and positive attitude,” she said.
“It’s easy to say nice things that people want to hear, but Chris has always been honest with me. And that’s one of the things I’m most grateful for.”
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