This will be our last Walk A Mile post this year, but don't worry we have so much more for you in store next year.
With that said, I am excited to end this year with this amazing entrepreneur. Rita has over 15 years of experience as a woman in tech, an investor and learning the nuts and bolts of building great apps & startups. We had a chance to sit down with her during the launch of her new company Mia Mia Beauty and hear more about what it's like to be a woman in tech and how to successfully launch a startup.
StilettoGal: What inspired you to start your business?
Rita Ravindra: The inspiration behind starting the MiaMia Beauty iPhone app stemmed from my own experiences with sharing beauty tips and products with friends and family. We've all had that time where we see that amazing lipstick color on a girlfriend and she tells you it's NARS (unfortunately she doesn't remember the color name) and then your amnesia sets in... What was the name of that lipstick she had on? What's even the name of the lipstick that I wear? Research has proven that beauty buyers rely on their trusted friends and family for beauty tips, yet there was no platform to allow sharing to happen seamlessly.
I've had over 15 years of business experience (raising money, business development, finance, etc.) at consumer tech companies. After my last start-up, I decided that my next venture would be something that I started and am passionate about. I wanted to build a personal beauty app for women that was beautiful, fun and useful. I wanted something that would serve as a utility to help her manage all of her beauty products (women own 40 on average), find product and beauty look inspiration and purchase products while on the go. The app is essentially, a one-stop shop for beauty.
Last but not least, I wanted to start MiaMia to message positivity and encouragement. All women are beautiful and MiaMia's mission is to help them showcase their beauty.
SG: What makes your business stand out from others?
RR: MiaMia stands out from the others because we are a unified platform for beauty. There are apps out there that have discovery or focus purely on e-commerce, yet none marry the two and add a social / community component. In addition, MiaMia is differentiated because we will become a user's personalized beauty tool. We are data-driven and focused on tagging and collecting data on beauty usage. This collection of data will help fuel "smart recommendations" (products, looks and users to follow) back to the user to create a more personalized digital experience based upon their skin tone, age, beauty concerns, zip code, etc.
SG: How do you feel about being a woman in tech? It is not always easy
RR: I love the tech industry because of the fast pace and innovation. I have the same background (MBA, level of experience, love sports, etc.) as most men in tech and don't feel any different, however, I have had situations where people have judged me without knowing my work background. I don't think that many men face some of those situations. I tend to be outspoken so I am not necessarily worried about myself. I am more concerned about those women who feel uncomfortable and end up leaving the industry in a time where we need much more diversity.
SG: What are 3 tips you can give to someone who wants to launch an app business?
RR: The three tips that I would give someone are to emphasize UX / UI, focus on an MVP and get feedback.
- Emphasize UX / UI - The media speaks about "app fatigue" which means people download apps and then get tired of using them. I think it's key to focus on user experience ("UX") and design ("UI") to produce an easy to use and valuable app that users feel connected to. This will retain an engaged audience. MiaMia's Head of Design often uses the word "magical" and MiaMia strives to have that amazing user experience.
- Focus on MVP - I think it's critical to map out an app's first version or minimum viable product ("MVP") to launch. Apps can take time to design and build and it's good to focus on what will give users a good experience, not necessarily one with the most features. Time is of the essence and it's important to get to market.
- Get Feedback - It is good to constantly get feedback on the app as it's being built as users are the best QA team and help ensure that the right features are prioritized. Also, once users provide feedback, they feel invested in the app's success and end up becoming power users.
SG: If you had to start over, is there anything that you would do differently?
RR: The only thing that I would have done differently is to have started MiaMia sooner because I am so fulfilled by my career right now. But, I try not to have regrets in life and think that things happen for a reason.
SG: What kind of shoe are you and why?
RR: I am a leopard flat. It's stylish and funky, but practical since it's flat. As an entrepreneur, I am constantly running around and this fits me perfectly!
Check out Rita's app on i-tunes or go to her site here.