Why I started this blog?
One year ago, I started this blog, blaircadet.com
Though I'v been blogging for 5 years, I wrote on my business websites
nhc.com (Natural Hair Capital, my first failed venture),
then on healthyhairasia.com (my shop website, that had my blog).
And when I showed people my website at the time,
it was confusing.
There was my business, and then all this other extra stuff about me, tech events, etc.
It didn't make any sense!
Plus, once I got my pre-seed investment, I wanted
to take a new direction to scale,
I no longer wanted to be the "face" of my business.
My signature hairstyle and journey to healthy and beautiful hair is part of my personal brand
But for the business, clarity between my personal brand
and business brand was needed.
Creating a brand: Yummy Blair
So, I created a LINE inspired sticker character, Yummy Blair.
Yummy Blair, has some of my characteristics, obvious one, my hair.
Other characteristics include her being an entrepreneur, traveler, and tech-savvy.
Now, if you're unfamiliar with LINE stickers,
or the importance of the business of cuteness
in Asia, one prime example is Hello Kitty.
Hello Kitty or the Sanrio brand, is worth $4 billion dollars.
That's the power of a cute brand.
Applying to L'Oreal Open Innovation Accelerator
Aside from clarity between my personal brand and business,
I was prompted to start my personal blog
because I was applying for L'Oreal Open Innovation at Station F.
The first beauty accelerator program in the world,
I was super excited when I learned about this program,
as most accelerators
focus on AI, FinTech, big data, etc.
When this program was first announced, the website just asked applicants
to email them and write a short "about me" and a summary of their business.
Which I found that strange :/ (they have a new website!)
They didn't ask for pitch deck, portfolio, or website....
But, that didn't deter me.
Given the confusion when people saw my
initial website, I created this blog, transferred old blog posts,
pictures, and milestones of my business, to my personal website,
and viola, Blair Cadet the Entrepreneur was born!
I included a short description of myself, my new website, and my pitch deck,
which they interestingly didn't read (reading saves a lot of time...)
My design team also finished creating Yummy Blair stickers and the pitch deck,
so I created yummyblair.com
Corporates Entering the Startup World
The people at L’Oréal team were surprised
and unprepared for my application.
The program called for beauty entrepreneurs around the world,
to apply and move to Paris where they had an office in Station F.
What I later learned was they meant was for beauty entrepreneurs in Europe.
I think some people forget that there is a world and market
outside the US and Europe....
I wrote a detailed post about this experience last year,
Corporates Meet Startups, because the team running the program
were unfamiliar with how entrepreneurs communicate and was
"worried" that L’Oréal didn't have the resources, mentors, or understanding
of the market to help me build my startup in SE Asia.
I never worked in the corporate world
Interestingly, the beauty market in SE Asia is the market to be in right now,
and the Asia market is the largest international market for L'Oreal
maybe I was missing something :/
So, they suggested for me to wait later in the year when they had more experience
building the accelerator, and for now they will focus on European beauty startups.
Fair and practical suggestion.
And with that, I rescinded my application.
I'm an entrepreneur, we're irrational people
(given that 90% of startups fail)
I could see why many big industries are easy to disrupt,
because they don't "connect the dots" and aren't flexible to change and/or adapt to new trends.
In this case, Asia is the best place to be to build a beauty brand,
the numbers, research, and profits show it.
Perfect, but not for me
I was hesitant to apply to other accelerator programs after this experience,
and after other rejected applications, I took a break to focus on my business.
Did I really need accelerator program to scale and build my business?
Yes and no.
Yes, because being a foreign founder accelerator programs (good ones) in Asia provide
a visa and startup capital to get a founder started
No , because I already have a product, team, and brand.
Why give away about 10-20% in equity,
that would cost me more in the long-term
for a $100K or less investment?
But again, I'm an optimist and like to see my options
So, 1 year later, I applied to new accelerator program.
And in all honestly, when they contacted
me 2 weeks ago, I completely forgot that I applied.
I was optimistic.
A new opportunity!
When I read their website, read about the founder, and the application process
An accelerator program giving my startup a chance!
I won't names the program, but the accelerator is in Singapore,
and was created last summer.
It has everything I'm looking for in an accelerator.
They were looking for "real entrepreneurs that will go to the ends of the earth" to build their idea.
And the start of this program was perfect timing for me
as I plan to head back to SE Asia later this year.
It couldn't be more perfect!
But sometimes what's perfect, is not for me.
I made it to the 2 round of interviews,
Then I had to take an aptitude test.
I'm not a good test taker, and especially when it's timed.
So, I didn't make it to the 3 rd of interviews :(
My thoughts on aptitude test, as a previous teacher,
Tests don't measure the creativity or capability of a student/person
If you want a good "worker" or "employee" with a specialize skill
absolutely, but for entrepreneurs building a business
not a good measurement of skill.
I believe entrepreneurs should prove their prowess via
personal and business brand, product, team, and track record.
Their rules. So I didn't measure up :/
I do wonder, when accelerators look for entrepreneurs, in this case
real entrepreneurs, do they just want former corporate people,
ex-McKinsey's, Harvard and Stanford MBA's, academics, and nerds?
If so, if you look at some of the best entrepreneurs in the world,
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson,
all real entrepreneurs, brilliant in their own right,
and a test (with exception of Elon Musk),
couldn't measure their entrepreneurial prowess.
What I learned
Well, this potential opportunity did prompt me
to create my Facebook group, Healthy Hair Asia
so I could connect more with my customers,
and create a community around my brand and product.
Which is what really matters,
so another lesson learned!
As always, thank you for reading!
And remember, life is full of lessons,
don't let setbacks or failures keep you from building your dreams!