Launching a startup with no work experience can be daunting.
But that didn’t stop Indiana’s Crisanti — who was just 24 when Social Bella was founded.
“You have nothing to lose, that’s actually the advantage of starting young,” Indiana, now 31, told CNBC Make It.
The Indonesian beauty and personal care retailer has raised around $225 million since 2018, drawing an impressive list of investors including East Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Temasek.
The business started as an e-commerce platform called Sociolla in 2015, but has since expanded to 48 stores in Indonesia and 13 stores in Vietnam.
Indiana tells CNBC Make It how she turned her startup into a multi-million dollar beauty company.
1. Be agile
According to Indiana, it’s important to adapt to change when running a business, especially when you least expect it.
Like all businesses around the world, Indiana had to weather the Covid pandemic, which coincided with his company’s fifth anniversary, he said.
“We were very excited about 2020 … we had a lot of campaigns and events planned, and then the pandemic hit. It was very shocking,” Indiana added.
There was a quarantine and the atmosphere was very different. Not just for the customers, but for the team as well.”
As chief marketing officer, Indiana quickly pivoted during a “very confusing time,” focusing on online events and shifting focus from makeup to home self-care.
“It’s been a steep learning curve because you also have to manage the team, make sure everyone’s OK and let them know we can get through this together,” Indiana said.
It’s about making sure you’re agile enough to keep up with dynamic change.
2. Do what is right
The idea for Sociolla was born in 2015, when Indiana discovered the online proliferation of counterfeit cosmetic products in Indonesia.
He said the products were sometimes sold at a “fraction” of the original price.
The e-commerce platform was Indiana’s solution to this problem – through it, consumers can get products that are safe, authentic and approved by Indonesian authorities.
“Since we started… we make sure that we only work with authorized distributors or only brand owners.”
When you have a business, you want to make it successful. But at the same time, you also want to make sure you’re doing the right thing.
Co-founder and CEO, Social Bella
But the approach wasn’t easy, Indiana said, especially when awareness about the authenticity of beauty products was low at the time.
“When you have a business, you want to make it successful. But at the same time, you also want to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” he added.
“It was a challenge to really educate consumers that cheap doesn’t always mean better.”
But this strategy seems to have paid off. There is a social disaster now According to Indiana, more than 30 million users across all its business units sell an inventory of 12,000 products from 400 brands worldwide.
The business has also caught the eye of investors – its most recent fundraising round was $56 million led by US private equity firm L Catterton.
“It’s been a long journey, but I’m really proud that we did the right thing from day one to today.”
3. Choose the right leaders
While being a young entrepreneur never stopped her, Indiana admitted that there was “a lot” she didn’t know about running a business.
That’s why Indiana attributes part of Social Bella’s success to the diverse backgrounds and expertise of its founders.
Indiana, who has a background in the creative industry, leads branding and marketing — while her brother and president Christopher Madiam, who studied computer science, brings technical expertise to the table.
John Rasjid, CEO of Social Bella, has a background in finance.
“Having my two co-founders has been very important to me, we support each other and have a great dynamic.”
He said his brother Madiam, who has been Indiana’s role model since he was young, has been a source of particular strength.
“He constantly encourages me to grow, learn and accept challenges with an open mind and a positive attitude,” she said.
It’s easier to say nice things that they want to hear, but Chris has always been honest with me.
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