Today we meet Mugdha Hedaoo, co-founder of GoPlay Cosmetics. GoPlay is a beauty tech startup that’s shaking up the cosmetics world with hyper-personalised color cosmetics available on-demand. Their product is a kit that consists of liquid makeup and various ‘recipes’ for mixing your own perfect colors, which you can keep in reusable jars rather than purchasing over-packaged single-use makeups. How does a small startup take on the task of disrupting an industry that has seen little change in decades? How is GoPlay using influencer marketing to its advantage? Let’s find out!
My name is Mugdha Hedaoo. I’m the co-founder of GoPlay Cosmetics, a beauty tech startup that’s making hyper-personalised color cosmetics accessible to everyone on-demand. Being a founder of a bootstrapped startup, my co-founder and I wear many hats. But primarily, I manage product development and marketing and my co-founder, Neeraj Dhanothia, looks at the finances and operations.
GoPlay is technically my first successfully launched startup, however, I’d tried starting an art studio, a marketing consultancy and even an IP firm in the past. With GoPlay though, my passion, purpose and skill set seemed to have very nicely aligned and, I suppose that’s one of the main reasons I’ve managed to be more resilient with it.
Neeraj and I work full-time on GoPlay.
We sell fuss-free DIY makeup products that let you create any color with any texture within minutes. Our pilot product is called the LIPSKIT which is a super simple DIY lipstick device with cartridges of primary colors containing liquid lipstick. You simply pump each of the cartridges a certain number of times (the kit comes with ‘recipes’) to create your own unique colors in reusable jars. With our products, we are addressing the age-old problem of finding your ‘perfect colors’ (that don’t go out of stock), discovering new looks that you would’ve otherwise never tried, and cutting wastage of plastic and packaging.
I started working on the idea of creating a makeup line in 2018, and officially launched GoPlay in July 2019.
I am an engineer by training, an artist by passion and a self-confessed makeup addict. What first started as a way to cover-up my flaws, quickly evolved into a way to express my individuality. I started deriving joy from experimenting with different looks. The face became my canvas, and colors became my tools.
This passion, however, resulted in an increasing spend on makeup, and an extremely cluttered vanity space.
I wanted to replace all this clutter with a ‘magic-wand’ kind of a product – an ULTIMATE multi-tasker – which took less space and delivered more.
So that became my mission and GoPlay Cosmetics was born to provide makeup lovers easy access to an infinite array of personalised colours on-demand.
From a prototype of 5 syringes tied together to more sophisticated 3D printed ones and then multiple trials of formulations to ensure smooth dispensing, GoPlay’s first product – the LIPSKIT – was born.
We are currently just the two of us running the show, but we work a lot of freelancers and agencies.
Currently we’re working on creating a personalised app to compliment the LIPSKIT. With the app, users will be able to identify their exact ‘skin season’ and our AI will recommend colors and looks specifically for your skintone. The app will also give you recipes to create those recommended colors with the LIPSKIT. In effect, we’re putting a stylist and a makeup factory in our users’ hands – literally.
Our plan is to launch similar DIY products for all makeup verticals including eye colors, blush, foundation and nails. Our larger mission is to replace 20 million single use makeup products with 1 million reusable GoPlay products by 2025.
Our biggest challenge is consumer education. Being a disruptive product in an industry that hasn’t really evolved in over a century is not easy. And being a new brand on a shoestring budget only amplifies this challenge. We’re increasingly working with influencers and letting them do the educating to their follower base. We are also constantly creating content that speaks directly to the consumer’s frustration and pain-points.
While the challenges can be daunting at times, great customer feedback and our determination to reduce wastage caused by the makeup industry keeps us going.
Definitely influencer marketing. We’ve built up our social base mostly with the support of the influencers we work with. We’ve also been extremely lucky to have gathered interest from influencers for simple product swaps. Using their content to run FB/IG/Google ads has worked the best for us.
We’re also very mindful of increasing the number of revenue channels and not depending on third party ad networks. So we’re currently in the process of building a strong email list and running email campaigns to have more control over our customer acquisition costs.
We use Notion for a lot of planning and organising our internal tasks. For marketing and analytics, we use the usual players like Google Analytics and Hotjar. For the e-shop we use a bunch of apps to up-sell, for loyalty and for lead collection.
Keep an open mind and be passionate about the problem that you’re trying to solve and not your solution. The problem will stay, but the solution will evolve. And keep at it. The journey of an entrepreneur is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. You can’t expect to be profitable immediately, or even after a couple of years, but if you’re solving a big enough problem that people are willing to pay for, then you know you’re onto something.
Also, and I think this is very important to know when you’re starting off, know your reasons for founding a company. If you’re looking to make a quick buck or become super rich, you’re better off in a high paying corporate job. If you’re passionate about solving a problem and find that you’re continuously asking yourself “if not me, then who?” then entrepreneurship is totally for you.
I read a whole lot of books before starting GoPlay. My personal favourites are Hooked by Nir Eyal, Zero To One by Peter Theil, The storyteller’s secret by Carmine Gallo, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore and Win Bigly by Adam Grant. Podcasts, I’m a regular listener of – Shopify masters, This week in startups, Startup Podcast Gimlet, and The Roadmap to 50K. As far as general reading is concerned, my absolute all time favourite is Yuval Harari’s Sapiens.
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