Lourdes Pinillos and Javier Pasco are alumni of the Master in Management 2009 and International MBA 2009 respectively. After going back home to Peru, they put into use the acquired knowledge and founded an e-commerce company dedicated to beauty and personal care. It is currently being accelerated by Wayra Peru, Telefonica’s start-up accelerating program.
The company has gone through its first year already and we’ve had the opportunity to interview Lourdes to know more of their project.
Lourdes, where the idea came from?
I’ve always loved beauty products and also always had the idea of having my own business. One day I was with my partner making brainstorming and researching business models that are not implemented in Peru, and saw that the e-commerce was growing in the country as well as the beauty products sector. We knew that in other countries have been applied this sampling system through beauty boxes and it was very successful, so we evaluated the feasibility of the idea in Peru and decided to launch it.
What led you get into this business?
I always wanted to have my own business; it has been always a dream. IE also contributed enhancing my entrepreneurial character. So in 2012 I decided to leave my corporate job at a Ernst & Young and get into a new adventure, where I’ve learned a lot, not only on topics such as digital marketing (and matters that I had not seen before because my background was finance) but soft skills as a leader.
Did you have some guidance to get started?
Initially participate in an accelerated program for entrepreneurs (Start-up Academy), where we finished among the winners. There we had access to important mentors in the Peruvian ecosystem of technology. We also had guidance from my university in Peru (Universidad del Pacífico). Then we postulated to Wayra, the Telefonica’s business accelerator, from which we’ve received seed capital and specialized coaching.
Was the only original idea or you had others and then you decided for this one?
We had other ideas. We thought in traditional business of beauty and fashion, but finally decided on the e-commerce beauty, since it was something new and growing not only in the country but worldwide,”
What were the biggest challenges you’ve found?
Mainly access to the cosmetic companies with a brand new product. Gradually we were able overcome it. There are always companies who trust in you from the beginning, and then others arrive when they see that the business generate attention. We have also started educating the user, since many people still think that buying online can be insecure and often their first online purchase was in our site www.Deluxebox.pe . It’s a matter of consumer development, and we are developing the business with them.
What would you say are your strengths relative to your competition?
We differentiate ourselves by offering a comprehensive choice and excellent customer service. Unlike other websites, we are a specialized e-commerce. In addition, we focus not only on the product but in the delivery, and the whole process from the purchase intention to the after- sales services.
What are your plans for the future short and medium term?
We want to consolidate our business in the Peruvian market through the launch of thematic DeluxeBox boxes as well as getting into the male segment. Additionally we want to develop to other countries. Initially we thought in Colombia and Ecuador. Today (May 27th, 2014) we participated in the “Demo Day” of Wayra Peru and made a presentation our start-up to investors. We want to be an online reference of beauty in Latin America.
The company already works with more than 70 cosmetic brands. They have created a system for introducing new products using the “tryvertising” where they deliver new products and brands in personalized boxes following the profile of each customer. In this way customers can test products and then buy in the online store.
As students at the Master in Management you seized every opportunity and the IE experience, coming to IE as a Carolina Scholar and later on as President of the IE Club Peru. Furthermore, What would you say what the most valuable knowledge, class or experience you had during the master program and that has been most useful for your entrepreneurial experience?
I treasure a lot of memories from my IE experience. Among them the marketing classes with Ignacio Gafo, where I realized the power of marketing if we measure each action and support them with numbers. I also remember the Economic Environment class with professor Gonzalo Garland as it is important to understand different macro-factors affecting entrepreneurship. Broadly speaking, classes at IE helped me find out and realize new business models, and the reality of other countries and to switch on my “entrepreneurial bug”. Nevertheless when I graduated I when to a corporate job I started my own business later on.
But beyond the classes I think something that has been extremely useful was the learning of team-building in a multicultural space, to be able to work in teams and all I shared with my classmates. All these helped me to develop my sift skills and to have a much broader vision of the world and of business.
Finally, Could you share with us an advice for the IE entrepreneurs?
Firstly to students: seize every moment of this stage at IE, no only you will learn new things academically but you will develop as a person. I would advise them to think outside the box, don’t just accommodate to one business model because it can iterate alongside the entrepreneurial way. One should be flexible and listed to the markets. I would also say try to validate your model fast and launch fast. “Someone else is doing it already” is not an excuse to do it better and make it work. We can adapt existing business models, re-invent the, and improve them. I advise them to plunge and follow their dreams, it’s very fulfilling to start up something from scratch. Not only satisfactions are huge but also the lessons learned.Being an entrepreneur… I feel it’s like doing the master for a second time!
Congratulations to Lourdes and Javier!