How Creator of the GoBeauty App Successfully Ran the Start-up Gauntlet

How Creator of the GoBeauty App Successfully Ran the Start-up Gauntlet


Vital stats:

  • Company: GoBeauty
  • Player: Tatjana Mihajlov-Pilbeam
  • Est: 2014
  • Contact:

Apps make life easier. That’s why we love them. It’s hard to remember how things worked before Google Maps and Trip Advisor.

Now, a clever Cape Town entrepreneur has applied location-based thinking to the South African beauty industry with GoBeauty, a mobile phone app that lists nearby spas and beauty salons, and lets you make appointments directly, in real-time, without having to pick up the phone.

It’s an app that has the ability to transform local commerce by making bookings painless for customers and salons alike.

Related: 7 Attributes of an Extraordinary Entrepreneur 

Launching and growing her app business, however, was not quite as straightforward for Tatjana Mihajlov-Pilbeam. “In the first few months, the uptake was slow,” she says. “I was holding the business back by being too cautious and not wanting to take risks.”

Letting go of fear

Crippled by self-doubt and fear of failure, she started a process of ‘mental fitness training’. “I set specific detailed goals and visualised achieving the business and financial results. Focusing on the outcome, even though you may not know how to get there, makes a big difference to your attitude. Practice thinking of the reasons why it will work and what drove you to start it in the first place.”

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That doesn’t mean pretending that there are no problems. Rather, it’s believing that you can solve any that may arise. “Now, whenever negativity sets in, I find a positive statement that applies throughout the day – in my case, I focus on something that has gone well.”

Thinking about the bigger picture

Picking small and achievable goals along the way worked like stepping stones to achieving her goals, and fuelled her confidence. The business responded too.

“I learnt the value of thinking bigger, beyond what I thought was ‘realistic’, and discovered that it’s better to forge strategic partnerships sooner rather than later.”

Integrating with the software systems that salons and spas use made GoBeauty far more accessible, simple and convenient for the salons and, at the same time, improved the experience for app users.

Initially, launching the app in isolation was a mistake, because like so many, it could easily get lost in the app store. GoBeauty’s target market needed to get to know the brand first, what the app was all about and why.

The next step forward came when GoBeauty moved onto WeChat, the free messaging and calling app.

“We are growing the business rapidly within an existing application, which has also made GoBeauty available on all smartphones, to an existing audience.”

Related: 10 Truths That Sustain Successful Entrepreneurs

With GoBeauty’s official account on WeChat, the team can focus on giving customers the best mobile beauty and wellness experience, while leaving the tech up to the experts.

It’s all about that brand

When you’re starting out, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to spend money on anything that is not essential to making the business viable. Creating a brand is one of those things.

“We learnt that whether you intend it or not, customers create a ‘brand’ image for you,” says Mihajlov-Pilbeam.

“That’s why you need to help them build the right one. With the huge influence social media has, it’s by far the best and most cost-effective way to reach your audience and build relationships.”

She cautions against doing the obvious. “Consumers are sophisticated and ultra-sensitised to advertisements. We respect our audience and their time. On our blog and through social media we’re giving them valuable content, but without ads and flashing images coercing them to ‘click here’.” The result is that GoBeauty has grown its audience by 200% in one year, and has expanded nationally.

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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