How Dollar Shave Club, eSalon Built a 'Billion Dollar Brand'
- Relying on analytics, the founders of eSalon who knew nothing about hair dye, built a trendsetting personalized hair color brand that did $30 million in sales
- The e-commerce brand uses individual data, machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics to create formulas that keeps customers coming back
- The Takeaway: Retail is being upended by direct-to-consumer companies that can acquire key metrics to customize products and retain shoppers
In recent years, you no doubt have seen a growing number of new brands pop up everywhere you go online – and you've probably bought some. Where did they come from? Who are the entrepreneurs behind them? Why did they think they could take on long-dominant brands?
This is an excerpt from " Billion Dollar Brand Club," authored by award-wining journalist Lawrence Ingrassia and published on January 28 by Henry Holt and Company.
The book explores how an unlikely band of entrepreneurs launched a business revolution in the way new brands are created and sold online. One of the most successful direct-to-consumer brands, Dollar Shave Club, was founded in Los Angeles and got its initial seed funding from Science Inc. in Santa Monica. This excerpt from Chapter 6, "The Algorithm is Always Right," tells the story behind eSalon, based in El Segundo, and how it tapped data analytics to create customized hair coloring.
The customer, a woman in her mid-to-late forties, knows what she wants when she logs onto eSalon.com to order its customized hair coloring for the first time: dye to match her natural blonde color – and cover up her grays – with the lightest blonde shade it offers. As she clicks through a series of about a dozen questions, the algorithm inside eSalon's computers starts churning away. Without anyone from the company having met or even talked to her, it will understand her hair coloring better than she does by the time she finishes answering the questionnaire.
How long is your hair? it asks. How much gray do you have? How straight or curly is your hair? How thick is your hair? What is your ethnicity? What color are your eyes? What is your natural hair color? What is the closest shade to your natural color? Would you like to maintain your current color?
To help her, the questionnaire shows thirty-one photos of different shades of blonde, with very small gradations from lighter to darker colors. At the end, she selects the lightest blonde color eSalon offers, just as she intended. But that's not exactly what she will receive.
eSalon has collected data from more than five million people. Based on this woman's answers, it knows the best color formulation to achieve the blonde look she wants, regardless of what she thinks. eSalon's computers have learned from crunching the data that many first-time customers who fit her profile and order the lightest blonde dye have been disappointed; they felt their hair came out looking too blonde – too "hot" in hair coloring jargon. The numbers show that eSalon has a higher reorder rate from customers who asked for a slightly darker color for their next order, so that their hair wouldn't come out looking quite so light.
Knowing all of this, eSalon automatically sends the customer – without telling her – a formulation that has 98 percent of its lightest blonde share with 2 percent blue added to soften the color, or cool it, rather than 100 percent blonde. "After seeing this data, we adjusted our algorithm so that new customers who are a natural pure blonde and want to keep that look automatically get that little bit of blue added," explains Tom MacNeil, eSalon's chief technology officer. "They're happier with the result, even though they're asking for the blondest of blonde that we have."
For eSalon, and almost all direct-to-consumer brands, data is the coin of the realm. The data they collect directly from each customer provides a significant advantage over bigger, long-established brands. Clairol doesn't have this data, because the customers they deal with directly are retailers. The people who use the product are largely anonymous to Clairol; they walk into a drugstore, pick a box of hair coloring off the shelf, pay for it, and walk out.
eSalon's shelf is its website, and it collects information about each customer who walks through its digital door and answers its questionnaire. The longer a woman remains a customer, the more eSalon knows about her – and not just her. eSalon aggregates all of that individual data and uses machine-learning algorithms and predictive analysis to inform virtually everything it does: from adjusting its product formulations to introducing new products (like color for highlighting hair) to testing seemingly insignificant word changes on its web pages. "In the end, we're a tech company selling a beauty product," says Tamim Mourad, one of eSalon's co-founders.
Data mining is critical to the biggest challenges facing all direct-to-consumer brands: holding down the cost of attracting customers and keeping them after a purchase or two. Using the data it has gathered, eSalon has improved its retention rate from below 50 percent to about 70 percent on its customers' initial orders. One of the key metrics, especially for subscription companies, like eSalon, Dollar Shave Club, and Hubble, is a customer's lifetime value, or how much she will spend over time. The cost of acquiring customers can be offset only if a lot of them become repeat customers who buy month after month or, even better, year after year. "It's all about retention, because nobody makes money on the first order," explains Francisco Gimenez, another co-founder.
Businesses have used predictive analytics for the past couple of decades, but the growing power of computers, along with the ability of online brands to gather huge amounts of data, has made machine learning central to their success.
Tamim Mourad and several of his colleagues at eSalon discovered from experience the importance of technology to a startup. In 1998, before the direct-to-consumer brand revolution began (indeed, before many of the entrepreneurs behind many of these startups had graduated from college or even high school), they started an internet company, while they were in their twenties. The company, PriceGrabber, was one of the original online price comparison sites. In 2005, Experian bought the company for $485 million – yielding a huge gain on the founders' total investment of $1.5 million.
After taking a couple of years off, the PriceGrabber founders began brainstorming about starting another business.
In the fall of 2008, Mourad and his wife were having dinner with a couple who owned a beauty salon in Beverly Hills. The other woman, who was a hair colorist, tossed out a business idea. "She said that women who color their hair at home don't do it well, because there is a dearth of information," Mourad says. What about starting a web site that explained how to dye your own hair? He didn't see a way to make money from that. But he asked her, "Is it possible to formulate color for someone sight unseen, and mail them something they apply at home? If that works well, then you're delivering a product that is better than the standard hair coloring in a box at drugstore, that would approximate what someone could get at a hair salon. If you could do that, you could charge a price that was a premium. There's a business model."
He went back to his former PriceGrabber colleagues, all men who knew nothing about hair coloring. But the more they thought about the idea, the more they liked it.
It was a business ready for disruption, they decided. Off-the-shelf packaged brands were fine, but most offered only around fifty pre-mixed shades. "Many people who color their own hair at home in general are not happy, because the results are mixed," Francisco Gimenez notes. "But it is affordable, which is why they do it. At the high end, salons charge on average around $60 for base color, though it can go as low as $45 in some cities and is more like $100 or $150 in bigger metro areas."
The PriceGrabber guys concluded there could be an opening for a new brand priced about $25. In today's global marketplace, it would be easy to find suppliers to sell them professional-grade ingredients that go into hair coloring formulations – dyes, modifiers (to stabilize color tones), vitamins (to moisturize the hair), antioxidants, hydrogen peroxide (to remove the old color and activate the new dye), among others. The biggest challenge would be to figure out how to combine all these ingredients to mimic what a stylist does in customizing color for each woman who comes into a salon. "Can you formulate hair coloring for someone sight unseen?" Mourad says. "We had to figure out how to test that idea."
They first did a proof-of-concept test to see if women might be interested in buying customized color online. They created a rudimentary web site and then hand-mixed colors for about fifty women who had signed up, submitted a photo, and said what color they wanted. Then the women were asked if they liked the color better than the results they got with a do-it-yourself kit at a drug store. "We recruited people who were willing to put this product on their hair, with no idea who we really are. The results were positive enough for us to say we have something," he recalls.
The next step: tapping their knowledge of tech and data science to figure out how to replicate color customization on sale, for fifty thousand women, not just fifty. "We wanted to do something that was really innovative, not bullshit innovative," Mourad says.
Omar Mourad, Tamim's younger brother and another of PriceGrabber's co-founders, read everything he could about dyeing hair. "I didn't have any tangible color experience applying it on any person's hair. But I became a theoretical expert," Omar says.
Over the next several months, he and Gimenez took the lead in translating the rules of hair coloring into software that would determine the right customized mix to get the desired color. That can depend on a numerous variables: a woman's natural color, her current dyed color, how recently she dyed her hair, how much gray hair needs to be covered up, the texture and length of her hair. "You basically look at all of the combinations, and then build out a matrix for how to formulate," Omar explains. Using that knowledge, the team developed a questionnaire that included queries a stylist would ask a first-time customer. The questions themselves aren't rocket science. The rocket science happens when hundreds of thousands or millions of people answer the questionnaires, enabling you to gather more and more data to analyze.
The final step was to automate the formulation. In September 2010, the product was launched. As with an apprentice stylist, eSalon's formulations improved over time as the company got more customers and was able to gather more information. As of 2018, eSalon had dispensed 165,000 different formulations. That's out of a total, it calculates, of 2.2 octooctogintillion pigment variations (that would be 22 followed by 266 zeroes).
In 2019, rival L'Oreal introduced a new brand, Color&Co, that copied key features of eSalon, including an online quiz or a consultation with a colorist to help determine the "a unique custom-blend [color] made only for you." With competition ratcheting up, eSalon – with sales still a modest $30 million a year – agreed to sell a 51 percent stake to the German multinational Henkel. It cited the growing trend toward personalization and eSalon's "valuable customer insights" as reasons for its investment.
Lawrence Ingrassia's "Billion Dollar Brand Club" goes on sale January 28. He is a former business editor of the New York Times and managing editor of The Los Angeles Times.
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Though Silicon Valley is still very much the capital of venture capital, Los Angeles is home to plenty of VCs who have made their mark – investing in successful startups early and reaping colossal returns for their limited partners.
Who stands out? We thought there may be no better judge than their peers, so we asked 28 of L.A.'s top VCs who impresses them the most.
The list includes many familiar names. Dana Settle, founding partner of Greycroft, and Mark Mullen, founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, garnered the most votes.
Settle manages West Coast operations for Greycroft, a New York firm with $1.8 billion in assets under management. She is one of only nine of the top 100 VCs nationally who are women, according to CB Insights.
Mullen is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, which closed a $100 million second fund in September to continue funding seed stage business-to-business (B2B) software startups. Mullen has also been an angel investor and is an LP in other funds focusing on other sectors, including MaC VC and BAM Ventures.
Below is the list of the top ranked investors by how many votes each received from their peers. When there was a tie, they appear in alphabetical order according to their last name:
Mark Mullen, Bonfire Ventures
Mark Mullen is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures. He is also founder and the largest investor in Mull Capital and Double M Partners, LP I and II. A common theme in these funds is a focus on business-to-business media and communications infrastructures.
In the past, Mullen has served as the chief operating officer at the city of Los Angeles' Economic Office and a senior advisor to former Mayor Villaraigosa, overseeing several of the city's assets including Los Angeles International Airport and the Los Angeles Convention Center. Prior to that, he was a partner at Daniels & Associates, a senior banker when the firm sold to RBC Capital Markets in 2007.
Dana Settle, Greycroft
Dana Settle is a founding partner of Greycroft, heading the West Coast office in Los Angeles. She currently manages the firm's stakes in Anine Bing, AppAnnie, Bird, Clique, Comparably, Goop, Happiest Baby, Seed, Thrive Market, Versed and WideOrbit, and is known for backing female-founded companies.
"The real change takes place when female founders build bigger, independent companies, like Stitchfix, TheRealReal," she said this time last year in an interview with Business Insider. "They're creating more wealth across their cap tables and the cap tables tend to be more diverse, so that gives more people opportunity to become an angel investor." Prior to founding Greycroft, she was a venture capitalist and startup advisor in the Bay Area.
Erik Rannala, Mucker Capital
Erik Rannala is a founding partner at Mucker Capital, which he created with William Hsu in 2011. Before founding Mucker, Rannala was vice president of global product strategy and development at TripAdvisor and a group manager at eBay, overseeing its premium features business.
"As an investor, I root for startups. It pains me to see great teams and ideas collapse under the pressure that sometimes follows fundraising. If you've raised money and you're not sure what comes next, that's fine – I don't always know either," Rannala wrote in a blog post for Mucker.
Mucker has a portfolio of 61 companies, including Los Angeles-based Honey and Santa Monica-based HMBradley.
William Hsu, Mucker Capital
William Hsu is a founding partner at the Santa Monica-based fund Mucker Capital. He started his career as a founder, creating BuildPoint, a provider of workflow management solutions for the commercial construction industry not long after graduating from Stanford.
In an interview with Fast Company, he shared what he learned in the years following, as he led product teams at eBay, Green Dot and Spot Runner, eventually becoming the SVP and Chief Product Officer of At&T Interactive: "Building a company is about hiring correctly, adhering to a timeline, and rigorously valuing opportunity. It's turning something from inspiration and creative movement into process and rigor."
These are the values he looks for in founders in addition to creativity. "I like to see the possibility of each and every idea, and being imaginative makes me a passionate investor."
Jim Andelman, Bonfire Ventures
Jim Andelman is a founding partner of Bonfire Ventures, a fund that focuses on seed rounds for business software founders. Andelman has been in venture capital for 20 years, previously founding Rincon Venture Partners and leading software investing at Broadview Capital Partners.
He's no stranger to enterprise software — he also was a member of the Technology Investment Banking Group at Alex. Brown & Sons and worked at Symmetrix, a consulting firm focusing on technology application for businesses.
In a podcast with LA Venture's Minnie Ingersoll earlier this year, he spoke on the hesitations people have about choosing to start a company."It's two very different things: Should I coach someone to be a VC or should I coach someone to enter the startup ecosystem? On the latter question, my answer is 'hell yeah!'"
Josh Diamond, Walkabout Ventures
Josh Diamond founded Walkabout Ventures, a seed fund that primarily focuses on financial service startups. The firm raised a $10 million fund in 2019 and is preparing for its second fund. Among its 19 portfolio companies is HMBradley, which Diamond helped seed and recently raised $18 in a Series A round.
"The whole reason I started this is that I saw there was a gap in the funding for early stage, financial service startups," he said. As consumers demand more digital access and transparency, he said the market for financial services is transforming — and Los Angeles is quickly becoming a hub for fintech companies. Before founding Walkabout, he was a principal for Clocktower Technology Ventures, another Los Angeles-based fund with a similar focus.
Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures
Kara Nortman was recently promoted to managing partner at Upfront Ventures, making her one of the few women – along with Settle – to ascend to the highest ranks of a major VC firm.
Though Upfront had attempted to recruit her before she joined in 2014, she had declined in order to start her own company, Moonfrye, a children's ecommerce company that rebranded to P.S. XO and merged with Seedling. Upfront invested in the combination, and shortly after, Nortman joined the Upfront team.
Before founding Moonfrye, she was the SVP and General Manager of Urbanspoon and Citysearch at IAC after co-heading IAC's M&A group.
In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year, she spoke on how a focus for her as a VC is to continue to open doors for founders and funders of diverse backgrounds.
"Once you're a woman or a person of color in a VC firm, it is making sure other talented people like you get hired, but also hiring people who are not totally like you. You have to make room for different kinds of people. And how do you empower those people?"
Brett Brewer, Crosscut Ventures
Brett Brewer is a co-founder and managing director of Crosscut Ventures. He has a long history in entrepreneurship, starting a "pencil selling business in 4th grade." In 1998, he co-founded Intermix Media. Under their umbrella were online businesses like Myspace.com and Skilljam.com. After selling Intermix in 2005, he became president of Adknowledge.com.
Brewer founded Santa Monica-based Crosscut in 2008 alongside Rick Smith and Brian Garrett. His advice to founders on Crosscut's website reflects his experience: "Founders have to be prepared to pivot, restart, expect the unexpected, and make tough choices quickly... all in the same week! It's not for the faint of heart, but after doing this for 20 years, you can spot the fire (and desire) from a mile away (or not)."
Eva Ho, Fika Ventures
Eva Ho is a founding partner of Fika Ventures, a boutique seed fund, which focuses on data and artificial intelligence-enabled technologies. Prior to founding Fika, she was a founding partner at San Francisco-based Susa Ventures, another seed-stage fund with a similar focus. She is also a serial entrepreneur, most recently co-founding an L.A. location data provider, Factual. She also co-founded Navigating Cancer, a health startup, and is a founding member of All Raise, a nonprofit that supports and provides resources to female founders and funders.
In an interview with John Livesay shortly before founding Fika, Ho spoke to how her experience at Factual helped focus what she looks for in founders. "I always look for the why. A lot of people have the skills and the confidence and the experience, but they can't convince me that they're truly passionate about this. That's the hard part — you can't fake passion."
Brian Lee, BAM Ventures
Brian Lee is a co-founder and managing director of BAM Ventures, an early-stage consumer-focused fund. In an interview with dot.LA earlier this year, Lee shared that he ended up being the first investor in Honey, which was bought by PayPal for $4 billion, through investing in founders and understanding their "vibe."
"There's certain criteria that we look for in founders, a proprietary kind of checklist that we go through to determine whether or not these are the founders that we want to back…. [Honey's founders] knew exactly what they were building, and how they were going to get there."
His eye for the right vibe in a founder is one gleaned from experience. Lee is a serial entrepreneur, founding LegalZoom.com, ShoeDazzle.com and The Honest Company.
Alex Rubalcava, Stage Venture Partners
Alex Rubalcava is a founding partner of Stage Venture Partners, a seed venture capital firm that invests in emerging software technology for B2B markets. Prior to joining, he was an analyst at Santa Monica-based Anthem Venture Partners, an investor in early stage technology companies. It was his first job after graduating from Harvard, and during his time at Anthem the fund was part of Series A in companies like MySpace, TrueCar and Android.
He has served as a board member in several Los Angeles nonprofits and organizations like KIPP LA Schools and South Central Scholars.
"Warren Buffett says that he's a better businessman because he's an investor, and he's a better investor because he's a businessman. I feel the same way about VC and value investing. Being good at value investing can make you good at venture capital, and vice versa," Rubalcava said in an interview with Shai Dardashti of MOI Global.
Mark Suster, Upfront Ventures
Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, is arguably L.A.'s most visible VC, frequently posting on Twitter and on his blog, not only about investing but also more personal topics like weight loss. In more normal years, he presides over LA's biggest gathering of tech titans, the Upfront Summit. Before Upfront, he was the founder and chief executive officer of two software companies, BuildOnline and Koral, which was acquired by Salesforce. Upfront backed both of his companies, and eventually he joined their team in 2007.
In a piece for his blog, "Both Sides of the Table," Suster wrote about the importance of passion — not just for entrepreneurs and their businesses, but for the VCs that fund them as well.
"On reflection of the role that I want to play as a VC it is clearly in the camp of passion. I really want to start my journeys only with people with whom I want to work closely with for the next 5–7 years or more. I only want to work on projects in which I believe can produce truly amazing change in an industry or in the world."
Lead art by Candice Navi.
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Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.
From helping save beehives to healing the human body, some of L.A.'s most innovative companies are helmed by female founders. Who stands above the pack? We asked the region's top VCs participating in our recent dot.LA sentiment survey to weigh in.
Ara Katz, a serial entrepreneur and founder of probiotic company Seed tops our list. Katz found a niche in a multi-billion dollar industry, but she acknowledges that this past year has been especially tough for women, as the pandemic forced millions to drop out of the workforce.
"It is not lost on me what a privilege it is to be building a company as a female founder and mother given how impactful the pandemic and the past year has been on women and mothers in the workforce," said Katz. "My best advice to founders is to build with abandon — it is contagious, amplifying and makes it all meaningful."
Nationally, female-founded or co-founded companies earned less than 3% of all venture capital in 2020, according to data from Pitchbook. Although women founders say they still face issues of sexism and encounter more obstacles than their male counterparts, there are signs of improvement. In the first quarter of this year, women entrepreneurs reeled in $9.8 billion in capital investment nationally – an all-time high in quarterly investments over the past 12 years.
In Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana, $544 million was poured into female founded startups alone over that time.
Therese Tucker, founder of fintech company BlackLine, which also made our list, said that it's important for women to find people who believe in them as they build their companies.
"Don't be intimidated by condescension," Tucker said, "Look for people you can actually partner with who 'get' your business."
And just as importantly, founder of health platform Kensho, Krista Berlincourt, said stay true to who you are.
"It is not easy. And you'll be surrounded by men, so just find the people who get you and your vision, hold onto them tight, and go for it. Then remember that soft is strong. You don't have to 'crush it' to be successful," she said. "Be you. Be flexible. Soften. Grow. That's the only thing that has ever worked," Berlincourt added.
Here's the complete list:
Ara Katz, Seed
Ara Katz is the co-founder and co-CEO of Seed, a Venice-based probiotic company designed to improve health and digestion. Katz's experience as a breastfeeding mother led her to explore the importance of microbes and their impact on bodily health. Among other leading roles, Katz was co-founder and CMO of ecommerce marketplace Spring, which was sold to ShopRunner in 2018. She was also on the founding team of Beach Mint, an e-commerce company for fashion and lifestyle brands.
Claire Schmidt, AllVoices
Claire Schmidt aims to empower workers through AllVoices, an anonymous reporting and management platform, which allows employees to report issues in the workplace. The LA-based company has raised a total of $4.1 million with investments by Crosscut, Greycroft, Halogen Ventures and dot.LA founder Spencer Rascoff. Inspired by the the MeToo movement, the platform lets employees alert management to problems like discrimination, harrasment, or work bias. Prior to roles at AllVoices, Schmidt was vice president of technology and innovation at Fox properties and senior director of giving at Thrive Market, an e-commerce platform for organic products.
Ariel Kaye, Parachute
Ariel Kaye used her design and brand background to launch Parachute in 2014. Parachute is a direct-to-consumer bedding brand based in Culver City. The startup has raised over $47 million in funding to date with investments by H.I.G Capital, Jaws Ventures and Brilliant Ventures. The brand avoids chemicals and synthetics in their products putting an emphasis on sustainability.
Therese Tucker, BlackLine
Therese Tucker is the founder and executive chair of BlackLine, an LA-based platform for accountants that takes on repetitive or complicated tasks. BlackLine pulled in nearly $352 million in revenues in 2020, and expects to grow that to at least $410 million this year. Ranked among Fortune's '50 fastest growing' women led companies in 2016, the company also received first place in G2's "Best Finance Products of 2021" ranking.
Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal
Southern California native Sophia Amoruso is the founder and former owner of Nasty Gal, a multi-million dollar clothing store originally started on eBay. Nasty Gal was sold at a value of $20 million, including $15 million in debt, to BooHo in 2017. Amoruso's newest project is an eight-week entrepreneurship course called Business Class, which aims to help female business leaders begin or grow their small businesses. The New York Times bestseller author of#GIRLBOSS, she detailed her entrepreneurial story that was later made into a Netflix series.
Madeline Fraser, Gemist
Madeline Fraser is the CEO and founder of Gemist, a mobile app that allows users to design a ring and try it on at home before they buy. Fraser used her experience in growing tech-startups to create one of her own. The sustainable jewelry brand raised $1 million in funding in its first seed round in 2019 and last year was backed by De Beers Group Ventures, Hawke Ventures and Monique Woodward last year for an undisclosed amount.
Krista Berlincourt, Kensho
Berlincourt is the CEO and co-founder of Kensho, an Los Angeles-based health platform and guide to natural medicine. Kensho provides users with specialized wellness services from surfing to acupuncture. The company has raised $1.3 million and is backed by top investors like CrossCut Ventures, Female Founders Fund and Evolve Ventures. Prior to creating her own company, Berlincourt worked in public relations at venture-backed Simple.
Katherine Power, Who What Wear
Katherine Power co-founded Who What Wear 15 years ago out of frustration with a fashion industry that was often out of reach for many. The brand focuses on providing affordable and size-inclusive fashion. She is now CEO of Clique Media Group, a parent company that oversees Who What Wear and other consumer brands. As of 2017, Clique Media Group raised over $15 million in funding with investments by Amazon, Greycroft and e.ventures. Power was also listed in Fortune's 40 under 40 in 2016.
Cat Chen, Skylar
Cat Chen is the founder and CEO of Skylar, a fragrance and body care brand. Chen developed a hypo-allergenic and cruelty free fragrance after being dismayed by the lack of clean ingredients in high-priced perfumes. The company founded in 2017 has raised a total of $11 million backed by Amplify, FirstMark Capital and GingerBread Capital. Prior to Skylar, Chen was was an executive of operations at The Honest Company, where she helped grow the company to $300 million of revenue in her four years there.
Shivani Siroya, Tala
The founder and CEO of Tala, a Santa Monica-based consumer credit smartphone app, Shivani Siroya created the company to assist people in underrepresented markets. Tala uses advanced data science to provide personalized financial services, such as disbursing loans to people with no formal credit history. The startup has raised over $217 million in funding by top investors, and has since been mentioned in TedTalks, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Siroya's company is valued at an estimated $750 million dollars as of 2019, and was deemed one of the top FinTech companies in the world by Forbes.
Lead image by Ian Hurley.
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