In anticipation of the final round of the 2017 Pitch Dingman Competition, the Dingman Center is interviewing each of the five startup finalists about their progress and upcoming challenges as they prepare to compete for a total of $30,000 in startup funding on March 7.
Nathalyn Nunoo, Founder & CEO
William Kwao, Operations & Tech
Elania Tait, Public Relations
POSH is a web platform that offers a reliable, affordable way to book freelance beauty professionals for any occasion. The task of scheduling a makeup artist typically comes with a number of obstacles and uncertainties: How do I know that the artist will give me the look I want? Are their rates consistent with other makeup artists? What happens if they’re late (and they often are)? How much do I tip, and at what point in the process is it proper to do so? POSH conveniently answers those queries on the back-end to ultimately pair their customers with artists who are vetted, talented and consistently punctual. The payment rates are transparent, the tip is included and all the customer has left to worry about is the event at hand. Makeup artists see a benefit as well—all the complicated logistics of working with a client are handled through POSH, allowing them to concentrate fully on their art. With its emphasis on convenience and customer service, POSH’s initial customer base has inevitably led to a growing list of new clients.
DC: Have there been some key decisions or milestones along the way that have led you from an idea to now pitching for $15K?
Nathalyn: A key milestone was getting into the Startup Shell. That was very big for us because we were finally around other people trying to do the same thing on another level, and that helped us a lot.
Will: Another one was getting our first customer. We weren’t expecting it so we were running all over the place, figuring stuff out.
Nathalyn: We found a lot of—not problems—but questions in that one encounter. You find all the holes when a person actually starts to use your service.
Of course getting into Dingman, starting to be a Fearless Founder. That was when we were like wow, it’s for real! It’s one thing to believe in yourself, but when other people do it lets you know you might be going in the right direction
DC: What have you learned from the semifinals that will help you better prepare for Finals?
Nathalyn: What I’ve learned for sure is what it feels like to talk in front of lots of people. Up until this point we’ve only had to talk to max three people at a time about this. So that was a big jump, from three to like 300, real quick.
Will: It helped us make our pitch very concise. We’d never really done that before. It helped us rethink our business, and think about what we really want people to know about us and what is really important.
Nathalyn: That was a huge one. Before that, we developed our pitch without a criteria. All of a sudden being given a criteria and then being given other parameters with other people going against us, that makes you shift your perspective as to what is actually your value.
DC: What has POSH been working on since Pitch Dingman Competition Semifinals?
Nathalyn: For now, we’ve been working on improving our brand in terms of the way we appear and our marketing styles. Right now, we’re trying to improve our interface, so while we’re trying to acquire customers it’s more pleasant to see, more updated and reflects what we’re doing now.
Will: Another thing we’ve been trying to do is make ourselves more friendly to artists. We want to make sure they really understand the value we bring to them.
DC: What are some goals you are looking to reach before Finals?
Elania: More clientele, getting more work done, obviously finalizing the website.
Nathalyn: This whole marketing branding initiative. We’re trying to reframe the way we look to our potential customer.
Elania: We’re trying to make POSH really posh. *everyone laughs*
Nathalyn: Some of our goals were very numbers centric. But those things will come if your product is good and if it sells itself. Right now we are in the process of acquiring customers, but we’re looking for other ways of doing it—getting larger gigs and working with big organizations to build our brand, rather than focusing on smaller numbers. We want to actually connect with customers and define ways of growing the brand and reaching our community.
DC: If you win Pitch Dingman Competition, what will you do with the $15,000?
Nathalyn: A lot of it will go to platform improvements. When we were developing our platform, this is the best we could do, but we know we can spend more time and bring more skillsets into it to improve it. Another thing we would use the money for is marketing. Not just social media, but being okay with losing money or starting out at a lower rate even though it might cost us, just to get that exposure.
Will: Our service is really based on trust, and we have to woo people into it. Discounts and promotional codes get people into it and then they use it every time.
Nathalyn: We’re doing something very different from what people in our industry normally do. Because once you try [POSH], that’s all you really need.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Read our previous feature on POSH when they participated in the Summer 2016 cohort of Terp Startup, the final phase of our Fearless Founders accelerator program.