Beauty Buddy is an app now with 80,000 products and 17,000 brands created by two sisters Wendy & Tracy. Co-founder Wendy Slattery appeared on my podcast Start, Scale Succeed to share how they how they have created what they call the “TripAdvisor” for beauty products, where consumers can rate products they have used. Beauty Buddy allows consumers and brands to get real feedback from real people, And was recently valued at £3.6million

Wendy shares how they made the journey from idea to app, and how they refused to take no for an answer and secured investment after investment for their business. 

What was the inspiration for Beauty Buddy?

I’ve been in business with my sister for 11 years, doing different things together. We didn’t have a background in beauty. We just knew we were on the lookout for something that could be global, for a problem that most women had which we could solve. We were also aware of the barcode scanning technology that was starting to be used for apps for food, and were interested in the possibilities.

Then one day we were that overwhelmed customer in a store, standing in front of thousands of products, trying to choose a makeup brush. We asked an assistant if one was any good, she was part time and didn’t know. We googled the product and it was just ecommerce sites selling it, we couldn’t find any reviews telling us whether it was any good. That was when the idea sparked: wouldn’t it be great if you could scan the barcode and get reviews from a trusted platform. So we built a business to fix a problem for ourselves.

How did you decide it was a viable idea?

We decided to make the most of everything that was available to us. We got on a programme called New Frontiers, where you can meet different coaches who help you review your idea and see how you could commercialise it. 

We ran focus groups. We always asked friends of friends that we didn’t know, we didn’t invite our immediate friends because they would be biased. We asked how they bought beauty products, how they decided who influenced them, which influencer they trust and why.

And we set up a closed Facebook group, adding friends in. We asked questions like if anyone is going to buy a new mascara, I want to change mine, to see if people would help each other out. We had fantastic input, and it grew really fast. But the information got lost so quickly. There was no way you could follow the threads or a certain product. A week later someone would ask about a good mascara and it would start all over again. 

Building The App

We had the idea at the end of 2017, and after 7 months we got on a programme which gave us 15, 000 Euros. Usually this money is given to you to stop working, but we used it to get someone in tech to build a prototype. Tracy had read the book How To Build A Billion Dollar App, and a clear message was not to spend anything on tech until you have built a prototype. We built a prototype using an app, so you could put in the buttons and design with no programming behind it, and this cost about $29 a month.

How did you build connections in the industry?

I actively sought out help and advice. I used LinkedIn, I would look for people that were in tech and innovation in beauty companies. We explained we were an Irish Beauty Tech Startup backed by Enterprise Ireland, which carried a bit of weight and just asked for a few minutes of their time because we are launching a new app. We didn’t use a sales angle, it was from an information and support angle. 

I reached out to someone who was mentioned in Forbes whenever they talked about the beauty industry. We had a zoom, she said let’s do coffee, it turned out she was in America. So we got ourselves to America. We made the most of the 6 day trip and reached out to every contact – we met lawyers, accountants, anyone we needed to meet, and it was amazing. The key was resilience and not taking no for an answer. It was a great idea and people were interested.

How have you secured investment?

We have made the most of accelerators and programs.

  • We then got onto the NDRC programme which gave us the money to launch the app. 
  • We got on the AIB Growth Academy and won, and this enabled us to use PR to push the app out there. 
  • We got investment from Enterprise Ireland 

We made the most of Angel Investors. I don’t think any of our investors had the name ‘investor’ on their LinkedIn profile. We focused on finding people that are passionate about the industry and understand the problem you are trying to solve, so it could be the director of Beauty Packaging etc. 

How has the app and business evolved?

When it first came out you were able to search for a product, get the information, and leave a review. We then reached out to consumers to get feedback, and the 2 things came back  – there wasn’t enough characters to write enough in reviews, and they would like autocorrect for spelling so they didn’t have to correct their own spelling.

That is why it is so important to keep in touch with the users of the app, to understand what they’re thinking.

We can now give users a lot more targeted information about the sort of products that will suit their skin and so on. We are also able to provide a lot for beauty brands themselves.  We have special offers for beauty brand startups. We can give them reviews they can use in their marketing We’re able to give information to these brands about what age group liked their product

We’re running a pilot campaign with retailers to help them get footfall into the stores where we offer full size products as samples that you need to go into the store to collect. 

And the business has grown to 10 of us, including sales, marketing, tech and data analysis.

What are you goals for Beauty Buddy?

  • We want to be the TripAdvisor for Beauty Products, the first place people check for beauty products
  • We want to be the first female team in Ireland to have a Unicorn Company
  • A huge personal goal is to grow the business to the size where we can build a stream of cafe’s for our niece Lily who is the light of our lives and has an additional need. Cafes where she can go to work with other people
  • We want to build a company where people really want to work, and look forward to coming in on a Monday. 

What has been the biggest challenge?

The investment journey. I didn’t realise I would spend about 70% of my time raising funds. It’s not what I enjoy, I prefer being with the team, helping to drive sales and meet new customers. If you are a founder looking to build a global company you will need to spend the majority of your time raising capital.

What tips would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

  • Surround yourself with the right people, connect with each other and inspire each other
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people what you idea is
  • Love what you are going to do
  • Keep educating yourself – reading, learning, listening to podcast
  • Don’t be afraid to stand by you gut feeling
  • Trust you goals and don’t be afraid to go for the big steps
  • Give it a go. 

Thank you so much to Wendy for her time. You can listen to the full podcast here.

I hope that this post helps you to continue on your journey to success and if you need any extra support then check out my free resources on my website, follow me on Instagram, subscribe to my monthly newsletter or get in touch at