Startups

ipsy launches its beauty product e-commerce business Shopper as hit hits 3M subscribers

Comment

Image Credits:

ipsy, a subscription service that delivers a collection of products to its users every month, has spent the last six years building up a community with millions of people obsessed with beauty products. And now that the company has more than 3 million subscribers — with a $10 per month subscription cost — it’s ready to get a little bit more aggressive by getting directly into e-commerce.

CEO Marcelo Camberos said the company is launching Shopper, a way for ipsy’s customers to buy products directly from the site rather than wait for them to show up in their monthly Glam Bag. Now, instead of just waiting for the five beauty products in the mail every month, its users will be able to buy products from a myriad of brands on the site directly — opening up a much wider swath of the beauty industry to ipsy, which last raised $100 million about two years ago.

“We’ve never envisioned ourselves as a subscription service, we envisioned ourselves as a disruptive beauty community,” Camberos said. “Our mission is to inspire individuals around the world to express their unique beauty. Everything we do is about self-expression. The Glam Bag and everything else has all been super personalized from the beginning. When I came up with the name for the company, the legal name, it was Personalized Beauty Discovery Inc., it was always meant to be about personalized beauty.”

And this kind of move is not only inspired by the opportunity to get into e-commerce but the company’s ability to build a very robust understanding of who actually uses ipsy and how to grow. Each month, the company produces more than 10,000 variations of its Glam Bags based on the recommendations it generates from the hundreds of data points from its users. That’s meant ipsy has had to build out a big team focused on machine learning as it looks to chase the demands of its users before they even realize they want certain products.

“There’s a lot of lip service around data, and I think even for us in the first two years, we talked a lot about data,” Camberos said. “We’ve made huge investments in it. From the very beginning we’ve had a quiz. Most people who take the quiz connect their Facebook accounts. We have hundrteds of specific data points, people want to give us that data because they want us to give them better products. We get over 5 million product reviews every month. We have a team of over 40 people who do that. If we do a good job, [customers] stay with us a lot longer, and they’re likely to tell their friends how great ipsy is.”

ipsy also said it will be divesting EM Cosmetics, a brand led by co-founder Michelle Phan, as it looks to be more of a neutral party where brands can come and get their products into the hands of users. Phan will also be leaving as part of EM Cosmetics. Rather than building direct-to-consumer brands, Camberos said it wants to utilize its massive community of 8,000 influencers to help brands more effectively reach customers — whether they’re well-known or emerging brands that are looking to get their start. All this is an effort to tap a growing audience of beauty enthusiasts that aren’t just going to malls and retailers to pick up their products.

As ipsy looks to grow, it’s going to lean heavily on that word of mouth and keep its cost of customer acquisition low. With millions of users paying $10 a month, it has the leeway to heavily invest in this new emerging business. But it also has to be careful not to fall into the trap of emerging consumer brands that end up aggressively spending to expand into new markets — especially ones that are outside of their sweet spot, which is often urban markets. ipsy, however, has always had a big following in middle America and is able to grow in multiple markets outside of just the urban bubble, Camberos said.

“We’ve never been an urban company,” he said. “We do over-index in beauty enthusiasts and people who really see beauty as a way to express themselves. They’re maybe less the beauty traditionalists, and maybe that’s why we’re a little less popular in the coasts. It’s not even about targeting, it’s about who’s really gravitated to our service. It’s people who are really into self-expression, but it’s not really been a coastal thing. Our base state is pretty stable, very representative of the whole country.”

One of the biggest challenges now, Camberos said, will actually be holding on to the machine learning team that it’s assembled. ipsy has the luxury of getting a lot of data around a specific set of products, meaning it’s a playground where engineers have an opportunity to experiment and rapidly adapt to the demands of their users. It may be in beauty, but it’s a problem that’s very attractive to the team it’s built by virtue of the data and the complexity of the operation.

Phan played a big part in building momentum for ipsy, but Camberos said that it’s build up a large enough influencer network that the company will help do a good job of ramping up its new e-commerce side on its own. While there’s certainly demand for products like this — Stitch Fix, for example, has built a business strong enough that it has confidentially filed to go public — there are also a lot of businesses that are still trying to figure out their footing. But with a robust customer base, Camberos is hoping that ipsy will be able to target a market it’s always expected to go after at some point — and that now is the right time.

More TechCrunch

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

21 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

3 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

3 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’