True Stories

True Story: "Who cares about face when promoting your business?"

Is being thick-skinned the new route to success? This startup founder went all out to get her business off the ground
 

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27-year-old co-founder of a beauty e-commerce start-up promoted it by turning up uninvited at networking parties, did her own publicity (she cold-called journalists and e-mailed one persistently for six months), and saved money by crashing on acquaintances' couches while on work trips. 

"Some women don't want to appear aggressive. But if you want to promote your business, you have to throw away all those inhibitions and do whatever works

For instance, if being a women lets me get into networking events more easily, why not? My business is a beauty e-commerce app, and I try to attend industry conferences to network. These conferences sometimes have "unofficial after-parties" that allow me to gain high-value business contacts. To get on the guest list, I have to aggressively reach out to my Facebook connections. Sometimes I just show up and charm my way in!

Photo: 123rf

I travel at least once a month in search of potential business partners and investors. When cash flow was tight, I would pester distance acquaintances to let me crash in their rooms or on their couches so I could save money

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I also do my own publicity. After working with a public relations agency for two months, I felt that messages could get lost in translation. So I took things into my own hands. I exploited all my networks to get connected to the people I wanted to connect to. I would try my best to get the contact details of reporters, and reach out to them.

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I never got any response 99 per cent of the time, but for that 1 per cent, the outreach was worth it. Once, I contacted a journalist who wrote for a renowned business magazine. I dropped her a message on LinkedIn and followed up over the next six months. Never once did she reply. Then, late last year, she finally responded, saying she was going to nominate me for an inaugural list of young game-changers to be featured in her magazine!

I used to think that putting myself out there was so embarrassing. But I've realised that the most others can do is to ignore or reject me. And with more than 100,000 app downloads today, I'm glad I got over my hesitance. Who cares about face?"

*Name has been changed.

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This story was originally published in the November 2016 issue of Her World magazine.