Back in 2016 Zaffrin O’Sullivan, the founder of Five Dot Botanics was feeling frustrated. A lack of investment meant a market opportunity was passing her by. The timing seemed right to scale her minimal ingredients skincare business, but she didn’t have the means to distribute her product on a wider scale.

Zaffrin had already sought investment via the Startup Series, a monthly competition for founders to qualify for equity investment.

Five Dot Botanics hadn’t yet manufactured all of their products, so they submitted with prototypes. They made it through to the third stage, but didn’t secure funding.

She didn’t know it then, but that ‘failure’ would lead to the perfect timing for her disruptive beauty brand to enter the market.

“Two years ago, I was feeling impatient”, she told me. “I thought the moment was going for minimalist beauty and clean beauty. But the strange thing is, had I launched two years ago, we probably wouldn’t have been as successful as we have been.”

After taking on board the feedback from her first application, Zaffrin successfully secured funding on her second attempt with the Startup Series. She pitched while heavily pregnant with her third child.

I invited her onto the Starting To Scale with Emmie Faust podcast to talk about her business journey so far. We shed some light on how the delay in securing funding resulted in perfect timing for her brand to make a disruptive impact in the tightly-packed beauty industry.

In this episode, Zaffrin and I talked about:

  • How she’s creating a successful brand in a fiercely competitive space
  • What she considers to be essential in a business partner
  • The difference between owning a business and creating a brand
  • How she spotted an industry that was ripe for disruption
  • How she’s matching her distribution methods to her brand values, putting connection with the consumer at the heart of the business.
  • The importance of putting IP protection in place from day one, so you’re ready for investment later
  • Why spending the marketing budget has been harder than anticipated

You can listen to the episode here: #43 How to secure funding for a disruptive beauty brand with Zaffrin O’Sullivan.

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Five Dot Botanics: where you can buy simple yet effective skincare products with five or fewer ingredients. Open for online orders, with free shipping in the UK.



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