Yazmin Cavale thinks of the process of taking her freelance beauty business to become Glow, the beauty-on-demand app, as a series of goals.
Can I convince someone to book an at-home makeup appointment online? Check.
Can I get a booking through someone who doesn’t know me? Check.
Can I get a whole market of people who don’t know me to buy my product? Check.
Can I get investors? Glow just closed its first $250,000 round of fundraising.
Cavale launched her app in November before becoming one of the first companies to complete the Innovation Depot’s Velocity Accelerator program. She just closed on her first round of funding, and the investors couldn’t get much closer to home: The Innovation Depot; Scott McGlaun, chairman of the Depot’s board and Chief Information Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; and Molly LaBorde, Chief Operating Officer at the Depot.
“This is the time I’ll hold so dear to my heart, because it’s been such a process, and every step has been so monumental,” Cavale said. “Of course, there’s downsides to everything, and it’s definitely a roller coaster, but it’s those steps moving forward that just push us.”
The round will fund Glow’s first expansion outside Birmingham: by the end of July, Glow plans to be up and running in Nashville. Cavale will be there this week interviewing make-up artists and hoping to find a full-time sales lead and full-time artist leader there.
“Nashville is going to be different. It’s a different market and we’ll market to different groups, and really find out what works with a touristy market,” Cavale said. “Birmingham is more everyday women and weddings and things like that, where Nashville is a high tourist area. So we’re going to see what works there, and that way we have two markets to base our next move on.”
The app works similar to Uber or Lyft, but instead of GPS finding you the nearest cab, it uses GPS to find you the nearest makeup artist, hair stylist or spray tanning professional. After you input the service you want and your location or home address, you browse available beauty professionals sorted by how close they are to you. You can check each professional, read user reviews, and browse photos of his or her work without leaving the app.
You request an artist-an independent contractor-who can accept or reject the booking. Glow offers make-up, spray tan and hair styling and blowout services. Services range in price from $50 to $175, but the average booking is about $100.
Glow hopes to hit 200 bookings per month this month, and within a year of launching in Nashville, it aims to hit 1,000 bookings a month.
“We keep seeing bookings grow each month. We don’t want to see it taper,” said Jim Cavale, Yazmin’s husband and an entrepreneur himself, a former President of Iron Tribe Fitness. He’s not full-time with Glow, but he’s helping with the launch and building the brand. “We think it’s very possible, being just four months in and hitting 20 percent of that just in Birmingham.”
Glow is partnering on the launch with New York City-based marketing firm VaynerMedia, the marketing firm of Gary Vaynerchuk, an investment fund owner who has invested in companies like Uber, Facebook and Birchbox, as well as an author and Internet personality.
Glow has also applied for up to $100,000 in grants to help grow the business without giving up any more equity.
“We could have raise money upfront, but we didn’t. We self-funded it, and I was still leading Iron Tribe at that point. But we said, let’s just tough it out, let’s self fund it, let’s make it work, because we would give up way too much if we raised money before we even had a client,” Jim Cavale said.
“We want to, in Nashville, create a prototype that people see as scalable. If the Nashville launch is successful, the valuation of this company will increase, and the next round of capital could be significant but without giving up as much.”