This SaaS is bringing transparency to the beauty industry

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I would have thought the product today’s guest created would be a nice-to-have. I was wrong.

Sabrina Noorani is the founder of ClearForMe, which is changing how the world consumes ingredient information.

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Sabrina Noorani

Sabrina Noorani

ClearForMe

Sabrina Noorani is the founder of ClearForMe, which is changing how the world consumes ingredient information.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. Joining me as someone who I was going to turn down, Sabrina, I’ll be honest with you. I was going to turn you down because your product looked like such a nice to have idea that somebody who’s well off, we’ll go and come up with as a software idea, people will think, oh, we should have it, but it never would, you know, never get traction more importantly, never get revenue.

It turns out it got traction, it got revenue and it’s used and it’s still useful. Um,

Sabrina: I appreciate the honesty. If you like, I feel like that would not be coming from anyone else right off the bat. So like, I have a lot of respect for just you being Completely straightforward

Andrew: Completely here’s so Sabrina, whose voice you just heard is Sabrina Noorani. She is the founder of clear for me. Here’s what it does. You ever like get obsessed about the ingredients that are in the products that you use? I know I do. I went and I saw. Her software on a cosmetic site is pretty cool. You can see a full ingredient list.

And then if you mouse over one of the ingredients in the cosmetics, you could see what it is because God knows what these things mean. And then if you like it, and it’s something that you want more of, you could see other products that have the same ingredient. It looks really nice. But then again, I see that nobody’s putting ingredients on anything.

I’d like to see the greens on the beer that I drink. I know that that makes me less of a meathead or something or too delicate, but I want to see what’s in the beer that I drank because I got a feeling they’re putting way too much junk that I don’t care about. So anyway, that’s why it seemed like a nice to have.

And I guess the way that she first pitched it as a product for consumers, like me didn’t really work. And so she decided to pivot and she moved it towards businesses. And again, I would’ve thought no businesses don’t care about this. It’s a nice to have they’re trying to sell. Then she found a way to show them.

In fact, I heard that one of the original demos that you did, you got your customer’s eyes to light up because of the way that you did that demo. And I’m hoping we’ll talk about it. I’m talking too much about Sabrina’s company. I invited her here to talk about how clear for me has started out with cosmetics is moving on way beyond and how it’s, it’s a strong business that we can all learn from.

And I could do a thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. Um, the first one is masterworks. I’m going to show you how you can invite. And the second is not even a sponsor anymore. Their ad ran out, but it’s, they’re still in Ukraine and I want to keep, uh, supporting them and their company’s doing even better this year because a lot of us are out there rooting for them and working with them.

And they’re doing still great work under difficult circumstances. Anyway, it’s lemon.io/mixergy. I’ll talk about both those later, but first Sabrina.

Sabrina: Thank you. Thank you so much, Andrew, for having me.

Andrew: I asked you before we got started, would you share your revenue said no. So I’m not going to go through the tap dance of trying to get it out of you, but there is something you can tell me about how, how big revenue wise the businesses. Right? What can you tell us?

Sabrina: in a short period of time, we’ve grown from zero to 350 plus a brand and retail partners and includes brands that are tiny, like that have one skew or five skews and up to. BR retailers like Ulta, which is the largest beauty retailer in the U S um, that has 50,000 plus SKU’s. And so before I skirt around your original question are our revenues.

Yeah, we have we’re, we’re a SAS based platform and we’re, you know, in the millions in revenues.

Andrew: Wow. All right. That’s amazing.

Sabrina: Yeah, it’s

Andrew: did.

Sabrina: I’ve taken $650,000 in funding from angels and friends and family.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, you really, an angel round person and then founders is we’ll get into all that in a bit. The original idea came to you because you apparently put something on your face that did something terrible to you.

Sabrina: Yeah.

Andrew: What happened?

Sabrina: I don’t know what, what I put on it, but all of a sudden out of the blue, my lips started to puff up, you know, when you start to have like something going on with your skin, it started to tighten the area. And then all of a sudden was peeling and peeling so much. I was getting staph infections on a weekly basis.

So Yeah.

that was fun.

Andrew: Why don’t you just say I’m going to avoid this makeup. It was a cosmetic.

Sabrina: I don’t know. Um, so what’s so interesting is you start to realize with your skin, it could, it’s not as straight forward as like, Oh, maybe it.

was a lip, a lip balm that I use or lipstick, because think about the things that touch your lips. It could be. Things that you wash your hands with, and then you put your hand, you put your mouth, your hand to your mouth, or you ever in the sh ever in the shower, wash your hair.

Do you think shampoo ever goes down to your face? Like, so a lot of different things that can impact your, your face and your skin that could cause a reaction

Andrew: What’s a staph infection.

Sabrina: it’s basically. Uh, horrible infection.

that is breeds from open wounds and cuts and they can cause pretty serious damage.

Andrew: So I went into your LinkedIn profile and I think you’d started a company in the wellness beauty space, nine, four, right? This was before this, uh, this.

Sabrina: It was an investment. Yeah. An investment arm. Yeah.

Andrew: you were going to make investments in wellness, FinTech. So my sense is that you are kind of primed already at this point. It’s like, I’m entrepreneurial, I’m looking for something. So when that hit your face, it wasn’t just, oh, it stinks that I have this skin. You have great skin by the way, I would love your skin, but it, you know, we could blame yourself or say it’s things that the beauty industry is like this and move on.

I feel like you were kind of primed to look for a problem that you entrepreneurially can solve. Am I right?

Sabrina: Yeah, I did looking back. I definitely was, but I don’t think I was consciously thinking that at the time. I think I was just in this like exploratory phase and it kind of like had to be like hitting me in the head and almost had to happen to me in order for me to like, oh, I can do something about this.

I have to do something about this and that kind of stuff.

Andrew: Okay. Was this when you were still working at Citadel investments, that this happened to you?

Sabrina: It started there.

Andrew: Oh, got it. Okay. So we’re talking about years when you live through this, not the way that I’m thinking, like, boom, you get a infection, you’re prime to be an entrepreneur and you go and jump on this. It actually seems like something that happened before you were ruminating on it.

And then you said, and then at what point did you say, I think I’ve got an idea here.

Sabrina: Um, you know, I didn’t know that I had an idea, like something of like, uh, of substance and I came across, I was just kind of talking about it to a friend and she said, you know, there’s this really cool accelerator program called founder’s Institute. Really have to have your idea vetted. And in terms of like, I don’t have like a whole business plan or I didn’t have a website, I didn’t really know what, what it.

was going to be.

And I think that’s always a hurdle when you’re, you know, when the startup world was booming, is that you feel like you need to be so much further along than you are. And I think just having some resource like that, that gave me some confidence. I was like, oh, I can use this as a platform to help me work it out.

And that’s, that was the opportunity that, that I got excited.

Andrew: I do find that with most accelerators, you do need to be further along. They’re kind of different the founders Institute and that they’re just looking to be somewhere north of a school program and south of an accelerator, like Y Combinator, like right in the middle. Am I right? It.

Sabrina: A hundred percent. Yeah.

Andrew: And so did they still take equity and do they still have that thing they do where everyone else in the program gets equity in your business and you get equity in their businesses too.

If you’re in it.

Sabrina: Wow. Yeah. So yes, they still take equity, at least from when I did it. And if you make it to the end of the program is the only way you get to share the equity. And part of that, there’s, you know, they, if you’re not doing the work, it’s a pretty intense program of output that you have to do on a weekly basis, regular meetings that you have to take with your team and pitches that you do regularly with investors there.

And so if you know, the, the cohort that makes it to the end and it hasn’t been terminated from the program is the cohort that shares in each other’s success.

Andrew: That always seemed like such a weird thing to me. I remember talking to Dale resi when he first launched it saying this is communism. I thought you didn’t like communism. Hey. Yeah. He just kept like blown that off. That’s not a big deal.

Sabrina: I know. But you know what happens is when you’re, when you’re starting and you don’t have resources and you don’t know where to go, and you’re not sure, like you’re looking for some guidance on, you know, some version of a playbook.

I think that’s, it was really helpful for where I was at the

Andrew: No, that part, I get the sharing equity. I don’t know why he needed to put that in. All right. What was your idea when you got into it and then what was it after you were done with the pro.

Sabrina: with. So, you know, the experience really started from when I was trying to figure out what was going on with my lips. And I thought, you know, I go through the normal thing that I think anyone does.

They go to a doctor, like, you know, for me, went to a dermatologist, they do this thing called patch testing at the time where they basically tape up your back with. You know, 200 plus different little tiny ingredients or things that chemicals that they’ve known. And then you go back three days, you know, two days later, they check your back to see if there’s any reactions you hold off on showering another two days and you find out, Okay.

if there’s more reactions, cause things with skin can sometimes take longer for your body to react.

And so you go through this crazy process and at the end, they’re like, you know what? We found five things. We think you’re allergic to. And I was like, thank God. because I don’t want staph infections on my lips every other week. And you know, I’m trading on wall street. I’m about to get married. Like there’s a lot of things going on in, in kind of my late twenties in New York that you were just, you know, this isn’t really prime for it when you’re having something like this on your face and I’m motivated.

So I saw great. And then my doctor says, okay, for these five. Here’s all the different synonyms that you need to look for for these ingredients. So for example, formaldehyde was one, here’s 12 different synonyms for it, and it’s not like formaldehyde. And then formaldehyde dash one it’s like formaldehyde and the synonyms like DMDM hydantoin and quadrennium dash 15.

For fragrance, 32 different synonyms, and this list goes on. So every ingredient you realize, not just allergens, so to speak, but all ingredients in the industry, there is no standard for how ingredients are labeled. So it’s absolutely impossible for a consumer to be able to navigate it. Um, and so that started with, well, okay.

I can make this a consumer facing app app. Like I would need it, right. I’m going to type in the things I want to avoid or things I want to include. And I’ll be able to now see all the products that have.

Andrew: God. And that was what you went to the founders Institute with and you were thinking that it would, uh, who would be customers? Was it people who had skin issues? Because of something that

Sabrina: Yeah. That’s where I thought I’d start. Yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. So it would be a small group of people, but a really desperate in need of a solution group of people.

So that’s a good audience to go after you’re going to create an app for them and then get revenue where,

Sabrina: I thought it would, you know, have an affiliate model. Really. If people are buying products from ours, our platform, it would be that yeah. that’s where it started.

Andrew: God. That’s a great idea. Right? So now you’re identifying things. How would you even find, I guess the way you find out what’s in it is you just do some research yourself. Some of it would be already online. Some of you reach out to companies and you get, you do the translation to figure out what the 50 billion different synonyms are and, and, uh, harmonize them.

Why didn’t you continue with that? What happened when you tried it?

Sabrina: I think intuitively it didn’t feel like something I wanted to build, um, something where I have to now get all these customers and have them change this new way of searching and shopping for things. But more importantly, it wasn’t the way I shopped. Like I didn’t, I didn’t, there was apps at the time we were like exploding.

So it was the hot thing to do for sure. But I wasn’t shopping like that. Like I needed this when I was walking into a CVS or I needed this when I randomly was able to go into a Sephora and Ulta. And so I wanted it to just kind of looking at those things of, of that then made me realize it’s just doesn’t feel like that’s what I want to build. it?

doesn’t feel like that’s what I want to actually focus.

Andrew: All right. That makes sense. I think actually then you end up in a world where you have to pay for downloads, and then you have to keep finding ways to get people, to keep using the app. And you hope that the affiliate agreements you have are strong and then you eventually start to slide into advertising to get higher on the search results.

And then. People are looking for the experience that Sephora has. They’re not looking for the IX and it’s more than just the product they’re buying. It’s also the experience. They’re not looking for the experience that you create, so you have to create the experience. All right, so you just on your own. So this is not for me.

And then how’d you come up with? I think I could get these retailers to put my thing on their site. That’s not an easy, it’s not an easy request.

Sabrina: Well, then I pivoted to a web based app. So I was like, okay, let’s not do an actual app. Let’s just do what based app, which is basically a website where I can use that tool there. And that way people can shop anywhere. They don’t have to download anything and they could then use that wherever they are.

Right. So that was like the natural next extension. And I, as I built out a prototype for that, And it was pitching it in over and over and over and founders Institute. It’s just started to like, realize that the model of exactly what you were saying, affiliate advertising, all of these things. It just, again, that’s not my skillset.

I wanted to just focus on being able to provide a more personalized. Discovery experience for customers. And so then I just focus on that and there was a little bit of a make it, or break it too. Like how much am I going to spend on this? How long am I going to be able to really spend time on this before I know that this is something, or this is something I have to, you know, put away and do work on something else.

And then it was one of those kind of. Make it or break it. Decisions was like, I need to get revenue now and I need to sell this and I need to have somebody that can actually believe in it and decide to pay for it. And so that was essentially the pivot, whereas like I wanted to first validate it with real revenue,

Andrew: And enterprise sales is good for that. They’ll pay you before you have a full solution. They’ll, they’ll basically help guide you. Um, but can I tell you Sabrina? I feel like there’s someone in my audience right now. I could totally get into that affiliate lifestyle. Why don’t I take that idea? I bet you there’s somebody out there who’s saying I’m going to create a whole site where all I do is show the ingredients in every product and list things that are healthy from other stores.

Actually, I wonder, and then go buy ads to send traffic to them. I wonder if that would work

Sabrina: Yeah. Be competing with a lot of, uh, already, uh, a lot of players already doing that now.

Andrew: in the affiliate space. You’re saying it’s already being done. Got it. Okay.

Sabrina: In some form. Yeah,

Andrew: So this idea that you had, there are other people who are already in it.

Sabrina: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Then maybe it’s not such a great idea, but I could see how it would be

Sabrina: I think, I think it was in the sense that what was happening in the space is there’s platforms like EWG or think dirty. Um, and they essentially. Consumers can either with an app or on their website, look up products and they get a score. They say, oh, this is good or bad. Or how clean or dirty it is on a, on a spectrum.

So there’s versions of that. It’s not specific to that. And then there’s tools internally that dermatologists use for this exact experience that I had, but it was. Manual and it was not personalized. And it was an output that for me, from my experience of those five ingredients sites avoid, I got a 300 page like print out from my dermatologist.

Like, go here.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment. Talk about my first sponsor Sabrina. I think at some point in the future, you’re going to be so filthy rich from this company that you’re going to do it a lot. You’re you’re not smiling anymore. I don’t know if I smile too much and I’m saying that’s what I’m going for.

Sabrina: like, okay,

Andrew: And then also you’ve got all your investment background.

You’re gonna make some amazing investments. You’re gonna have a posh apartment in a skyscraper in Manhattan in addition to a place in LA, or I dunno, where else do you wanna go?

Sabrina: I love you. You’re like my height, man. I want to go to, I want to go anywhere in Italy.

Andrew: Well, okay. You’ve got your, your Villa in Tuscany where your friends come every summer, every spring, and they meet up with you. And then you’re going to say, you know what, I’m making all these investments in companies I should do what other rich people do. I’m going to invest in art, which is what a lot of people do at some point, right?

They become so well off. They realize art holds value, apple. Who knows how long apple will survive. Right? At some point it’s going to go away, but Picasso, which is even older than that, apple will still survive and still be valuable. And so you’re gonna think that way, you’re going to say, why am I investing in apple stock instead of investing in Picasso that I could put on my wall, be beautiful and be.

Well, here’s the thing. You don’t have to wait for that period in your life. You can actually go to masterworks dot.art/mixergy. Right now, masterworks will let you invest in art because here’s the other part. And you invest in it by doing the same way you invest in stocks, you all pull together. They help pull money together from several investors to buy one piece of art that you get to hold on to when there’s a sale, you get to all split the proceeds from the sale.

They handle it and intelligent way. That’s why I’m so glad that masterworks is, is a sponsor of mine. It’s been a while where people had to get on a wait list and then Bubba and this and that it doesn’t exist anymore. You use my URL. You get right in master works.art/mixergy, and you can go and start making these investments right now.

You don’t have to wait till you’re rich to do it. And the other beautiful thing is Sabrina. Imagine, if you don’t know anything about technology and someone says, go invest in technology and you become the person who goes to as well. Then I hear IBM is the biggest brand I’m going to go invest in IBM.

Right. And then you’re the fool who invested in IBM because it sounded like a blue chip brand, but it’s wrong. That’s what most of us do. Why did I pick up Picasso? Because it’s the blue chip name that I know. Is that going to jump more than anything else? Is that what anyone cares? I don’t know. The beauty of masterworks is they have people who know this stuff who can help guide the investments.

So anyone who’s interested, you don’t even have to go and invest right now. What you do need to go to do is go to masterworks.art/mixer G yeah. Slash art, that masterworks.art/mixergy you get in. And you’ll do the first thing that I did. Just get on a call with someone who can answer all your questions, ask them anything.

And then if it’s a good fit, you can get started right away. You don’t even have to a lot, a lot of money. All right.

Sabrina: That’s awesome.

Andrew: You could have done it before you, you hit it big with this company. Alright. Um, thank you. Master works for sponsoring. All right. Now that you had it. Tell me about what that prototype was that made the prospect’s eyes bug out.

I heard about this somewhere. What’d you build?

Sabrina: I build a clickable demo. That was a layer on top of their website. And, um, I showed a few, you know, I showed three ideas that I had pitched. One is. Exactly. What we talked about earlier is what if, you know, one of your consumers wants to know more of your, about your ingredients and instead of literally opening up another tab and Googling it, and who knows what on verified sources and rabbit hole that, you know, she, he or she would go down under which, you know, as a consumer, you’ve done it, I’ve done it.

Like we’ve all gone down this Google rabbit hole. You could actually just answer that customer’s questions directly on the PDP, where she’s. Closest to the call to action button, add to cart. Um, And so I showed that as a clickable demo, I showed. The value of like being able to have your ingredients index the way we were indexing it in terms of like filters that you show.

So I showed results for a specific filter that was live on their site. What were their search results from that currently? And had we index their products, what would be the extra number of incremental products that would show in that search results? So be able to provide more accurate results to customers.

And then I showed a use case to be able to search by ingredients on their cases, on their site,

Andrew: And you basically,

Sabrina: results.

Andrew: this is which, which company did you do this for? An established

Sabrina: was, Yeah.

it was credo, credo, beauty. And they were at, you know, now obviously though they’re the largest clean beauty retail in the world, but at the time they were also one of the pioneers in, in the clean beauty space. So it was, you know, speaking to a really, really, uh, engaged and informed consumer of, of this.

Andrew: Right. You super, I mean, I don’t mean in a bad way, you copied one of their product pages, at least. And then you put your software as you imagined it on top of it so that they could see an ingredient list on their product page. And when someone clicks or taps one of the ingredients, it says what it is.

And then it shows other products that have it. That’s what I imagine you created.

Sabrina: Yeah, it wasn’t a copy in the sense that like you download their code. It’s just basically being taken, being able to like view the URL and screenshot, but yes, and then building a little widget on top that when somebody clicks on something, it shows. It looks like

Andrew: I’ve done that a lot. There have been sites over the years that will do that. That will allow you to take someone’s site and then put something else on top of it or manipulate the HTML of it. And, and, uh, and I think that’s a great idea. I don’t know why more people don’t do it instead of showing me screenshots of what the thing would be.

You can make it workable.

Sabrina: Yeah. I think that was the key thing is like having your demo shown in the data that you already are familiar with as the buyer is so impactful and as. You know, if you’d shoot, if you present things that way, it really helps like the other person on the other side. See it because they’re familiar with what they’re looking at.

Andrew: You know, I don’t know where I, where I saw it. It might’ve been like an article that you link to from your LinkedIn that showed the credo, got a bump in conversions when they added you on. Right. Do you remember what the numbers were on that?

Sabrina: I do. Um, so we did a case study for at least for 2021 engagement with our, our, uh, click wall ingredients on their site, improved conversion by 71%. And it increased AOVs by 7.6%. So average order values in addition to time on site and other

Andrew: So more people bought and they bought more whenever you added this on and it doesn’t take up much space. It’s basically an ingredient list, which is a section on the site. And it’s only when someone clicks that they get to see the rest. And by the way, on an iPad, it’s not entirely obvious to me that I can click and expand it.

But I imagine on an, on a desktop, when you mouse over, you can see it. So it’s really taking very little space and you get those conversions. What I’m curious about is. To me once I heard, once I heard that that became a big unlock for me. Aha. Now she doesn’t have to persuade. She shows numbers. They get to persuade themselves or not after they implement, but there’s a clear benefit here.

Did that come across in that first conversation with them or at first, was it more like this is more useful conversion?

Sabrina: In the first conversation, it wasn’t, it was a guess on what the, what that would help, um, in terms of the bottom line. But what was great was the anecdotes of the actual, they have store associates and they also have customer service online. The answer customer’s questions all the time. And they had a lot of experience understanding that customers, as curious as, you know, as great as credo is in terms of, you know, identifying what their standards are and how, you know, what their position is on clean customers, still ask questions all the time about ingredients and about how to find the right product.

And so they saw this as a great way to be able to meet customers where they are.

Andrew: that’s another good thing about selling to enterprise that they can get open with you that way, you know, when you talk to consumers, they either don’t know or they say nice things that they hope you’re going to like, but in this case, you’re getting some real useful information. They wouldn’t otherwise had you even get in with them.

How did you get them?

Sabrina: I say, I use this word of like, you know, it was, I was a persistent stalker, um, but kind and persistent. And so, you know, one big thing was when I knew I needed to get revenue, I gave myself three months and I was like, this is happening. I see. That, that mindset shift helped remove all of the well, um, um, the fear of rejection and the fear of not getting responses.

So even when I, you know, I met, I met the co-founder and he had a conference and I, you know, I talked to her about what my idea was. She’s like, you she’s like, okay, great. You should, you know, speak with so-and-so at the, at the team. And I had that call and then all of a sudden, afterwards that call went nowhere and I thought it was, you know, I thought it was going somewhere.

So then I, you know, normally I’d be like, oh, that just means they’re not interested. But because I’d given myself that firm deadline, I pinged Annie again. And I was like, Hey, I’ve had this call with her. It went really well, but I haven’t heard back. What’s the, you know, who else can I speak to? And just that persistence of, you know, it wasn’t as easy.

It wasn’t as like a linear line like that. It was a lot more touch points, but that led to okay. Meet so-and-so and then I was able to get the right person to help

Andrew: Did you get it within three months? Wow. And they

Sabrina: literally got it. Yeah.

Andrew: literally.

Sabrina: I literally.

got it. Like two weeks. I got the final. Yes. Like two weeks before the end of the three month timeline.

Andrew: And they agreed to pay. If you built it, they knew you didn’t have it. And they agreed to pay. If you build it,

Sabrina: Yeah.

Andrew: who built it? I could see that you’ve got financial experience. I see that you’ve got entrepreneurial chops. I’m wondering, like, where did you get. The software skills or who did this because it’s, it’s a beautiful, simply elegant pop-up that comes up.

I don’t even know that I would call it. What is it called? An overlay,

Sabrina: Yeah. Or Lightbox.

Andrew: a light box. Thank you. Um, so it’s very straightforward, but behind the scenes, you’ve got a database of all their ingredients, a database of all their products that have it. You’re bringing it up super fast. Who built.

Sabrina: So what we really built. You know, the backend database, the way that the data gets structured and then the APIs in order for brands to be able to, um, uh, be able to implement and integrate into their site, the front end, what’s beautiful about this and how our shop works is the front end is all, all up to the brand and how they want to create this experience.

You know, whether, you know, how, how they want to display it, how all of those things. So they have full control. Um, and to answer your question. You know, part of the big thing was once I started to see that there was some traction in my, in my, um, in my sales process and I thought, okay, this could be going somewhere.

I had kind of like, oh my God, how am I going to actually now deliver this? And, you know, kind of that a great moment. I think all entrepreneurs space once they make that big sale and they’re like right now, it’s time to deliver. And it was exciting. And at the time I reached out to one of my advisors. What do I do?

And he’s like, talk to it, talk to so-and-so, you know, he’s a great product person. My partner now, Ali, who, you know, was first just a friendly person to help console and give me advice and guide me through the process. Then when we closed the sale was the first, you know, was the person that just was like, okay, I’ll help, you know, guide your dev team.

Uh, you know, I had a third party dev team that I had already vetted and already discussed all of that with. And he’s like, I’ll help guide that process. And then once we, you know, went live, he was like, I was like, okay, Ali, like this is happening. And he’s like, all right, I’ll start helping a little bit, you know, after my, my daytime job.

And then, you know, six months later, I was like, I just got investment. Now I can afford to pay you. And he’s like, all right, I’m in. So.

Andrew: And then the first version, what did it look like?

Sabrina: You know, what’s amazing is the first version that’s live on credo beauty. It’s the same. It’s exactly what we envisioned. Um, and it’s the idea. Wherever the ingredients live on the product pages. That’s where clear for me. These data feeds the brand and retailers, websites, PDPs. And then essentially when a brand loads, the w when the product page loads, it has an API request to clear for me, like?

send us the ingredients.

We send it back and they render it. And now a very organized, clean way. And then when a user clicks on an ingredient, it asks us for the data that credo wants to display. So credo displays a little one to two sentence definition. They also have a custom note about this ingredient highlighting, where it’s sourced and then to your point, you know, other products that have this ingredients.

So now user can click on more products.

Andrew: Did the first version workout? Well, any issues with it?

Sabrina: I mean, I, I wish I could tell you that. Short answer. Yes. Eh, we launched early, we launched, you know, we had two months to launch. We launched in six weeks and it worked perfectly. And I think that the glitches were just being able to populate more of the data and having a lot of those other things figured out, but we’ve, um, yeah, we’ve had no issues and we’ve been able to grow and scale as they’ve grown in scale.

Andrew: Not, they are such a perfect first customer because they’re so into clean ingredients. They’re right next to the ingredient list is their logo for the credo clean standard. They promise they’re gonna use cruelty-free, uh, ingredients and non none of the ingredients on what they call the dirty list, which is their list of bad ingredients and so on and so forth.

So I could see how it would fit with them. What I would wonder is as you took this out, was there any fear that they would just say, great, great idea. We’ll just create it ourselves. Why do we need to outsource this pay monthly for it and, and be stuck with them instead of doing it for ourselves.

Sabrina: Well, they, at the time when we launched and you know, they’ve grown tremendously since. They had 2000 skews that, um, they had, um, products and data for, and it’s not only about indexing all these ingredients. Um, but when you, when you do index. You have over 70,000 ingredients at the time that you have to standardize and clean up.

And so it’s not only standardizing it against all the chemicals, synonyms, like I showed you about formaldehyde. It’s also about all the different ways, for example, vitamin E that a brand labels, vitamin E. And so that. You know, that’s not their wheelhouse, it’s not something they’re focused on. They’re focused on creating really, you know, creating really meaningful value to helping customers find the best products for them within their standards.

And that’s what they’re doing. And so for them, it wasn’t worth their, it’s not what their model is. It’s not what they’re focused on.

Andrew: And it does seem like online stores are comfortable trying different software instead of investing in their own people, building it. I think they even have a review platform on their site where people could review the cosmetics that they bought. I don’t think they built that themselves either. It seems like this Lego approach to products and sites seems like a common thing, but I could see thinking this is such a basic idea and it’s just us in a small team.

They could copy it. Um, and that wasn’t an issue at all here. All right. Let me take a moment. Talk about my second sponsor. I call them sponsor, but truthfully, I told you, before we started, they’re not paying for this. They had their ads, their ads ran out. I’m not going back and ask them to renew because, uh, the founders in Estonia, excuse me, and Ukraine, excuse me.

And he’s left it. He’s now, uh, trying to keep us trying. It’s actually keeping the company together. It’s amazing. Here’s why I’m, um, I’m excited by it. Well, he did was he had this idea where people need developers. He’s in Eastern Europe, he can get Eastern European developers who are incredibly sharp, who don’t want to move to the U S and you’re in Western Europe and other places who work for a lower price if they could stay at home and work remotely.

And so he got this network together, companies that hire developers from him. Now, for years, he bought an ad for me at the end of last year to run this. Um, I’m guessing it did well, but I haven’t talked to him about it at all because instead, what I talked to him about is what’s he doing for his team since this whole thing in Ukraine?

And he said, one of the things he’s doing is he’s helping people who want to leave. He’s paying people who cannot work and he’s committed to keep paying his people. And I thought, great, how much are you losing this year? What’s the revenue going down by. And it turns out his revenue is actually holding up.

His developers are getting to do the work and his company is going, is growing where I thought for sure he would be devastated. And I think partially it’s because a lot of us are rooting for this entrepreneur. Who’s built this great business. Who’s connecting many of us with phenomenal developers. And so I’m going to do my part to support him.

This isn’t a paid ad. His ad runs of run-out. His service is amazing. If you go to lemon.io/mixergy, they will even make it cheaper, less expensive. I should say, to hire their developers. And it’s a, it should still be up. Even those ad ran out. Cause I can’t imagine that he has time to remove that page. So if you’re looking for a developer, I’m not saying go hire from them.

I’m saying go consider them. And if you like, you can absolutely hire from them. If you don’t like the person that they connect you with, there’s a 48 hour guarantee. They will connect you with people quickly. They will make sure that you get the right fate. All you have to do is go to lemon.io/mixergy.

All right.

Sabrina: I love that.

Andrew: Yeah. Really good people. I’m amazed that they’re doing so well. Um, you know what, and that’s the thing I have to keep remembering Sabrina. The number one thing that comes to my mind from doing these interviews, especially since COVID is how many entrepreneurs in difficult situations instead of getting.

Just flourish. I think for sure they’re done. They’re going to lick their wounds and come up with a different idea. They end up finding some way to do better than they had before instead of hiding, they just come out and that’s exciting for me because I think that when things get tough, I feel guilty doing well.

There’s a part of me that says I can’t do well during COVID in the early days of COVID because this means that maybe I’m profiteering from it. And I talked to so many entrepreneurs, companies did better and because of it, they were able to take care of it. Same thing with him. Good, good luck to him.

Sabrina: Yeah, I agree. I’m rooting for him.

Andrew: Have you had any setbacks? You know what it feels to me having researched you? It’s like you go from strength to strength. Have you had a low moment?

Sabrina: Yes all the time. I think in the journey as an entrepreneur, you feel like you’re always, you know, you’re, you’re so isolated in your journey and you never know what’s going on. And, you know, you read the news and about different companies doing different things or potentially doing things that are similar or in a

Andrew: what, was there one that you heard that was doing something similar to you? Was there a, give me a low point and by the way, watch your mic. As you’re moving, it keeps hitting your lapel.

Sabrina: Um, that’s a good question. To be honest, I think a low point was when I saw somebody that was a competitor that literally copied exactly what we did with, um, with one of our companies. To the T of like how they frame things, how they worded things. And it was pretty, it was pretty jarring because I had spoken to that re I had spoken to that, to that company and had, was done.

I was at the finish line with them, and then they decided, they said what you said they wanted to build a more in house. Cause I ha I didn’t have it embedded. This was pre credo. And so it was pretty upsetting and it felt like this was a, for something personal, like I did something wrong. Um, You know, you have moments like that and moments and other, other more yeah.

Andrew: How’d you get through that? I remember there was this one guest that I interviewed founder of proof. They were also going after online stores and their idea was when you’re on a store, you should see that other people are buying the product you’re looking at. And so they created this little light box that would come up.

You’ve seen it bottom left of the site anyway.

Sabrina: It’s amazing.

Andrew: They had these people copy them that I so much that I started getting angry because they had in the code, their names, like their stuff was in the code clearly.

Sabrina: Clearly.

Andrew: I got angrier than the founder of proof yet to tell me Andrew, calm down. It’s okay. He eventually ended up, he didn’t say it was okay.

Uh, he was still angry, but he said he had to calm me down and bring me down to sensibility. Cause I was going out on some kind of war against this other person, which I shouldn’t do. Um, and now they’re, they’re the creators of what used to be called Jarvis. It’s now Jasper it’s an a I writing assistant.

So they’ve, they’ve done well, but I got angry. How did you deal with.

Sabrina: I got angry. Um, and, but I realized my anger was more hurt. I was just feeling really hurt that that happened. And I felt a little bit violated in that, like somebody’s. It almost feels like theft to some degree, right? Like somebody copies exactly the idea you have, what you’ve executed. It feels very jarring.

You know, there’s, there is a bit of pouting that goes on to be completely honest. I was down and I was down with my, like my leadership team sharing, like what was really, you know, what, all those emotions that I mentioned. But I, what was awesome is they like kind of rallied around me and we started to really look at the solution.

We looked at what it was, and at the end of the day, it means we’re doing something right. And so like, it’s it’s to some degree, like I can only control what I can do. And for us, we have a specific roadmap. I think it just helped us really button up, like what our positioning was, how do we brand ourselves?

And what, you know, our plan of, uh, of scale was, was laid out for us for the next.

Andrew: It is validating,

Sabrina: It lights a fire. Yeah. Let’s a fire under you too. Right? Cause you’re like, okay, I have to move faster or I need to do, you know, if this isn’t what I want to do. So that’s what I think That’s what it turned into. Is it lit a fire.

Andrew: Okay. Cause when entrepreneurs say it validates the idea, it’s a nice thing to say and it’s PR speak. And I like that. You went beyond it and said yes, but it’s also scary. I would be scared more than I would be hurt. I would just feel like, okay, what if they under price us? And then what if they add more than we do?

And your response was to say, we have to make sure that people see us as a brand and understand that we’re here and then also move up the roadmap, fire faster move. And so what did you do because of that? You told me how having the two month debt, the three month deadline, I think it was got you to sell.

What did you do now?

Sabrina: We, Um,

we created a, um, a deadline for the next six months at that point, in terms of what, what approach we were going to take to be able to work with a lot more clients at a, at a faster rate than we were already going. And so we came up, we came up with these ideas and we, uh, And we leveraged, you know, we’re, uh, an, uh, retail and CPG relationship that we had in order to be able to kind of do more with a lot less.

Um, if that makes sense,

Andrew: No, I don’t, I don’t understand, like, what were you, when you say CPG, that’s a consumer packaged goods company that you

Sabrina: Right. So like a brand of brands. Yeah. So we’re working. So that was a, that was a part of our go to market, but it’s not that we had PR or, you know, we invested in SEO. So that’s how, you know, a brand finds out about clickable ingredients are our go to market with limited marketing funds. Anchoring to really large relationships that we established.

So credo for example, was amazing, right? Cause that is like a leader in the space. And then that flow B gets flow from the perspective of if a large, if a large, like a brand or retailer works with you, that’s really well-known, that becomes there’s a network effect. And so that’s what we did was we tried, we found another anchor relationship with.

somebody that we could get that network effect of which we did.

And that helped us essentially like get more clients more fast.

Andrew: And then one of the things that I notice is that underneath the list of ingredients, yes, it says click and ingredient for more information. But below that in gray letters, I missed it until this conversation. You can see, I keep everything you mentioned. I keep going and looking for now. I noticed it.

It says powered by clear for me. And I can understand another retailer saying, I like what they’re doing. How did they do it? And then immediately seeing it without even having to go into the, um, into the source code and look for the tool for.

Sabrina: that’s literally 9,900. And percent of all of our inbound, it’s seeing powered by clear for me, you know, where their competitors are shopping or other, other, you know, stakeholders that they’re looking at

Andrew: right now, I told you that I was going to introduce you as the woman who creates software for cosmetic companies. And you said, no, no, we’ve gone and are continuing to go way beyond it. What else is there that this would work for? Is it food? Is it, um, I don’t know.

Sabrina: no. So there’s two areas of opportunities in terms of expanding what we’re doing. Um, one is within the beauty industry already, what? we’re doing, it’s not only about providing transparency and efficient product marketing in related to ingredients.

All the things out connected to your products that are useful to market that customers care about, is it that the products have ingredients, but also that they are, have specific attributes Like, gluten-free or cruelty-free or vegan, is it, you know, all of the things related to it. What are you doing from a sustainability perspective?

That is also important when a consumer is looking at and evaluating a product. so our platform that we built in order to supply or support the clickable ingredient experience. Um, basically turn into a platform where brands and retailers, uh, actively manage their information in one place and then be able to distribute that data in real time, across all channels.

So for clickable ingredients on their DTC, but also to support initiatives like compliance and merchandising for the retail relationships, like at Ulta and credo.

Andrew: I would

Sabrina: for example, I was. Oh, so for,

Andrew: I’m not going to talk. I want to hear from you. I was just going to say, I can understand it being available in online shopping for, I mean, grocery sites. I definitely want better ingredient lists and better caloric information. When I buy, when I buy food online and it’s a pain, I don’t even like how they take a screenshot of the ingredient list.

I want to see it. I want to see it on there as I scroll through. Okay. But beyond, beyond food and cosmetics, what else? Give me an example of how someone is using you now, or you envision them using you.

Sabrina: well, For example, Ulta beauty. They in 2020 launched a program called conscious beauty. So it was a holistic program to help, um, give their products more options for the, for the things that based on the things that they care most about. So not only clean, but cruelty-free vegan, sustainable packaging and positive impact philanthropy work that the brand does.

So for a brand to be able to tell that they’re clean or vegan at cruelty, or, you.

know, all of those things at Ulta. Um, they have to go to our platform and they go through a pro Uh, process to validate their claims around the standards that Ulta sets. So how. How, how other products our partners use our platform is not just to be able to bring clickable ingredients or search by ingredient capabilities on the front end, but also facilitate backend services related to what products they onboard, what products meet their criteria and what products they market and how they market it.

So, for example, if Kim Kardashians in her, you know, and in her first episode of Hulu that comes out in a few weeks and saying, you know, the secret to my skin guys is avocado oil. Can you imagine the rush that would happen for a retailer to be able to say, oh my God, we need to market avocado oil. What products in our inventory have that credo and Ulta can, as partners of ours can run searches to not only do compliance things, but be able to run searches across specific categories across all of their inventory to say, We want to market this.

How do we, how do we figure out what in our Sortman has it versus just tying it to physical tags that brands do based on marketing lingo on packaging,

Andrew: I see it’s more than just what’s in it. It’s also, how do I find the things I’m looking for? The things that have, okay. So can you imagine like a retailer in the future, like REI for say their sleeping bags, having, if not an ingredient list than an attribute list somehow where it’s what the temperature is, what it’s made out of it’s so on.

And so you can see that this is made out of synthetic material, or this has made out of a down or something. I don’t know what actually, uh,

Sabrina: Yeah. And where’s that, where’s that stuff sourced. Right. And, um, think about, even if you were in the, metaverse trying to shop for a sleeping bag. Right. And it’s not only about all the options for sleeping bags, but you could even like put your body into the sleeping bag and see if it’ll fit you for your length, but also to your point.

Yeah. You’re really particular about ingredients. So that we’re a technology that could be used in tandem with recommendation engines like that, or thinking about like virtual try-on in the space, like being able to try on not only clothes, but beauty products, cosmetics. So what are some of the, you know, we’re one of those inputs that can feed feed all of those recommendation engines,

Andrew: Were you always entrepreneurial, like as a kid,

Sabrina: I didn’t think I was. And then I was thinking about some of the things I did as a kid. I, I was that person that while I was at school, like had my own little candy collection, like whenever we go to Costco with a family and buy the lollipops and the, um, oh man, I forgot this candy, which is so funny because now I don’t eat candy knowing what I know about ingredients, but I, you know, I had a little side hustle going in order to raise.

I spent some spending money that I was not getting from my parents. um,

I feel like I did little things like that. I’m sure that all kids did, but I don’t think I really realized I was entrepreneurial until I looked back to realize when I went to business school, I was at, you know, once I studied finance And information systems at NYU, The first, the company I took the first offer I took, I had, you know, a real estate gig.

I could have taken a Citibank, a really traditional kind of finance role, but instead went with this Mo with this market-making firm and I traded options on the stock exchange floor. And like, there was no, you know, that was a company that, you know, Uh, a team of 50 that’s now exploded in this doing really well.

But I realized while I was an entrepreneur myself, I like to be around teams that were entrepreneurial. And I think that’s probably why maybe died. You know, now I know I was,

Andrew: And so if we look now taking this say 10 years in the future, where do you see potentially going dream with me a little bit?

You don’t even know. Do you love it? Go ahead. Cause I don’t want you to feel like you’re now obligated to live up to this, but I’d like you to just dream to the point where it’s like, maybe this could happen.

Sabrina: I mean, what, if any time that, um, a product is made in the world, anything that has tied to any ingredient, that information is living. And directly manage on clear from east platform. And then it can feed every, every place that, that information is needed, whether it’s compliance back in services, but more importantly, creating true personalization for a customer, wherever they’re shopping.

Um, and that’s like where I get really excited as the ability to be able to like deliver personalization because at the core that’s what was bothering me. I couldn’t find what products Right.

For me. I could find resources that told me this product is good or bad. But then I had to like keep searching. I had to be like, dove body wash.

Okay. This is bad. Or this is good. Or Aveena, oh, this doesn’t work for this. Or, you know, I couldn’t be like, this is what I want. This is what I want to include, what I want to exclude. And this is what I care about. Now. Show me what works for me based on what’s available.

Andrew: Right, We keep hearing people say that stores will be customized based on gender, based on location, based on a past buying experiences. But what about. On needs based on something like you brought up, here’s an ingredient I just don’t want to see on your site and I’ll feel better about shopping on your site.

If you could eliminate it or highlight the products that don’t have it, or as you said, someone says something on it, Kim Kardashians, upcoming show, and then we’re looking for it. Yeah. That makes sense. Or imagine if you start to hear that. The New York times as a report about how there’s this one ingredient, one component of a lot of the products that we buy that is actually made with slave labor.

And you usually say, well, that’s terrible. What do I do about it? Imagine if you can go to an online store and say, I just want to know what has this ingredient that I’m now protesting or that I don’t know where its

Sabrina: Yeah, and it, and we all change. We all change as consumers, Right? It was different for me at the time when that was happening, my lips. And then it also changed when I was pregnant. Also changed, you know, after I stopped breastfeeding. And we’re all going through that. And as a parent, like you’re, you know, trying to do the best you can for your kids, for, you know, your family in the, in the choices that we want to make.

But this is a tool that’s going to help you be a more conscious consumer in a user-friendly way.

Andrew: I still wish there was a period where I was looking for protein bars. Cause I was working out of an office and I just want to protein bars and I don’t eat meat. So then how do you get protein bars that aren’t made out of some kind of animal? Like the product I’ll take their dairies, fine, whatever. I shouldn’t say whatever, but dairy for some crazy reason, I said, it’s okay, but this other stuff is not.

And then I started hunting and ingredients and you can’t tell what the thing is, what is it? Weigh comes from milk. Right. Which I wouldn’t have thought about, but then what else comes from this? And collagen comes from that. Right. And so I just want to know what’s in it. What does it mean? And I don’t want to have to go and spend a lot of time hunting through ingredient lists.

I see the vision of where you’re going. The site is clear for me.com. I like the domain. Congratulations on the business success.

Sabrina: Thank You Thanks for having me.

Andrew: And, uh, thank you to my sponsor, masterworks.art/mixergy and a lemon.io/mixer G. Thanks everyone. Bye.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

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