Inner battles are the hardest to fight. Christian Sutardi, an entrepreneur from Indonesia, the co-founder of Lolabox and an ex-Rocket Internet employee could not agree more with it. “I realized that a job would never be able to make me happy. Making this difficult decision in favor of entrepreneurship is my biggest success,” says Christian. When he was thinking of starting up last year, fighting the battle with his inner self that sought for security from a safe, settled job was the biggest obstacle he had to get past. He was thinking of various ideas to work and started with something he has been a fan of for the last 2 years – beauty box model like that of a Birchbox and Glossybox
He believed that beauty box model acts as a platform giving a win-win outcome for both the marketers and the customers. It improves the beauty product sampling for brands and for customers it makes finding a right product easier. Christian asked his female friends if they would subscribe for a beauty box and everyone was excited about it. He found a great demand and knowing that beauty product brands are looking for better methods of customer acquisition than random sampling in malls, Christian had found his space to start up. The concept was exciting for him as it was operationally challenging to execute, entailed an opportunity to always meet new brands and relatively high margins. So, he decided to start up Lolabox – an online subscription based service that delivers beauty products based on a member’s beauty profile.
Many a founders may empathize with the most difficult part of starting up which Christian faced – the daunting task of finding a co-founder. Fortunately, he found it in Cynthia Chaerunnisa, his former colleague from Rocket Internet and started Lolabox in December 2012. Little did he know, finding co-founder would start looking easy to him soon once they get into the legal side of starting up. The process of starting up in Indonesia is not a cakewalk, speaking of which X says, “It is definitely not easy to set up a startup in Indonesia. It takes several months to get legal documents, the VC and startup law is practically non-existent, regulations are constantly changing and the infrastructure in Jakarta, internet connection and traffic in particular, is definitely not helpful.” But finally they set up the headquarter in Kemang, Jakarta to serve to the whole archipelago of Indonesia.
Initially they had set up a simple landing page to collect email addresses of interested customers. At this time, he was still working with Rocket Internet’s FoodPanda team and after resigning in early February, they could finally start working on Lolabox full-time. On April 15th, they sent out the first set of Lolabox to family, friends, media, bloggers and celebrity endorsers. They expected to get traffic for public subscription on their website, which they launched a day later on 16th of April, with the help of social media buzz these marketing boxes would create for them. Lolabox has received 2,100 membership requests in just a little more than 2 months. Currently, they are not able to completely satisfy the demand, but they aim to send out 3,000 boxes by December.
Lolabox has raised seed money from Grupara Inc.(Aryo) and Indonesia's largest digital ad network AdPlus. Christain appreciates the investors for helping with their networks, experience and resources, apart from the capital. Talking of the longer term plan, Christian says, “Maybe in two years from now we will look for exit options. Currently we want to prove brands that placing samples with Lolabox is a very efficient way to increase sales and brand awareness.”
Indonesia being world’s 4th most populous country and seeing a growth in its e-commerce sector surely looks like a very attractive market to target. With an economic growth rate of 5-6% a year and the beauty products industry growing at almost twice the pace, Lolabox seems to have entered the right market at the right time.
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