James McIntyre, Co-founder of Beautifinda

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James McIntyre is Co-Founder of beauty marketplace startup called Beautifinda. Beautifinda connects women with freelance beauty professionals such as makeup artists, hair stylists and spray tanners, helping grow their businesses.

Jame’s has previously worked with technology and media companies including realestate.com.au, News Corp and Getty Images in Strategy and Marketing roles. James is passionate about technology and helping small businesses succeed. James left the corporate world last year to focus full time on launching Beautifinda to market.

Could you share with us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

Sam (Co-founder and wife) and I had two ideas that just wouldn’t go away and got bigger and bigger over time! The first was in the fitness space and the other in beauty. They were both based around real life problems that Sam was experiencing in finding local professionals to help her with her fitness and getting glammed up for an event. Speaking to other women and professionals we realised this was a problem also facing others. As such we started to develop and explore the opportunities. Working on this in the evening and weekends as well as having two young boys, we soon realised one of us was going to have to give up full-time work and focus on this full time to make it happen. So last year I took the plunge! We started work on both ideas and Beautifinda really took off so we pivoted and put all our energy into it.

Could you explain your business model to us? 

We have a very simple business model that we think provides value for our customers. It is free for beauty professionals to list their business and then they pay a small commission for any bookings they receive from the site. On the other side the people booking, pay a small fee to book. It works in the same way Airbnb does and we’ve had great feedback from the market around this. As such, beauty professionals can use our service as an extension of their own business – without incurring large costs for websites, advertising, SEO and SEM plus booking gateways.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year? 

We have just launched our booking system with 500 beauty professionals listed in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, which we are extremely excited about. Our focus is on growing both sides of the marketplace and providing a great service making it easy for women to find beauty. We are very excited about growing our business into other states and areas as well and we are soon launching overseas in NZ and Asia.

How do you make ideas happen?

We are always pushing ourselves beyond what we believe is capable. We have a ‘have a go and learn what you don’t know mentality’,

We also work in an Agile way with daily stand-up meetings and prioritisation of highest value work. All the work is on the walls so everyone is across what is happening. We “do” by “doing”, we are focussed on constantly trying new things, then reviewing and reflecting and seeing what work. We have developed the business step by step focusing on the marketplace at each stage.

Have mentors played a role in your business life?

Both my wife and I have worked in corporate and startups over our career – we have worked with incredible leaders in our time. We are always asking others what they think or what would they do if they were us. We take all the advice in and then decide our next steps. We spend time networking to spark our ideas.

What does your typical day look like for you?

As there is no typical day in a startup I’ve put some structure around my week to make sure I am coveriff the key activities. Essentially I devote a day each week to a activity such as SEO/ PR, Sales, Tech and Marketing. I speak to as many customers as I can and look for feedback on how we can improve. I also take the dog for a walk across the cliffs looking down on the beach where we live. It gives me some fresh air and a bit of a break – plus the dog loves it as well.

Do you have one idea you are willing to give away for free?

I think there is a huge opportunity around education and equipping students with practical skills, particularly in marketing so they can hit the ground running in workplaces. So there’s an idea for someone!

What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

I really like what Spaceship are doing in the superannuation space, making it attractive for young people to get involved. They seem to have done a great job in generating excitement for a category (Super) that is thought of as very dry. They often sell out their information events which are held in startup spaces.

Amazon is doing a great job in supporting local startups and we are excited to be working with them as part of the AWS Activate Programme.

What about internationally?

We follow Airbnb closely internationally. I really admire what they have done in creating a movement and a community.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

There are so many ways that businesses can affect social change – they are endless!!

Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?

We are currently exploring how we can collaborate and provide training for beauty professionals.

Are there 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?

Medium for startup inspiration/ particularly the Startup Grind channel

Fiverr for engaging freelancers all around the world

Canva, for taking control of your creative output

Do you have any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?

We are always looking for contributors to our beauty blog and new beauty professionals to join our community.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, what would it be?

I am always interested in speaking to other marketplaces and collaborating on how best to get the right balance of supply and demand and strategies around each.

What is your favourite café or bar?

We are based in the Bayside suburbs of Melbourne.

Otto in Sandringham and the Local Italian in Black Rock are our fav’s for food and coffee. We are also lucky to have two small breweries nearby, True South and The Bad Shepherd!


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