Each month as part of StartHub Startups to Watch Program we connect with the winning company to learn more about them. Our October Startup to Watch is ZIRUI (pronounced as /ZEE'RAY/), a beauty packaging platform. Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Regina Ye, Founder of ZIRUI. Here’s what we learned:
Tell us about your company. What is ZIRUI?
ZIRUI is a beauty packaging platform that serves the modern active lifestyle that is always on the go. We make the distinction that we are not a beauty brand but a service brand that helps users to achieve their daily needs of looking and feeling great wherever they go, while saving them time and space spent on the daily routines so they can enjoy more of life's potentials.
Our first product is called ZIRUI GO Case, which is a magnetic modular travel case that is designed for traveling with liquids in the most efficient and sleek form that is both secure and simple. We named it Go Case because we want it to inspire more actions and serve the "on-the-go" lifestyle.
What is your background? How did you come up with the idea for ZIRUI?
I actually come from a background that has nothing much to do with consumer products. I studied philosophy and computer science at Mount Holyoke College in western MA, and was particularly focusing on cybersecurity and UI/UX towards the end of my college years. Growing up, I traveled a lot in between countries and often spent summers abroad, and I habitually spent a lot of money every year at Sephora. All of these things did not click for me until the summer after my sophomore year. I was in Berlin all summer for a UI/UX internship and then after coming back, I went to a tech conference in Texas where my carefully-wrapped liquid oil leaked everywhere in my bag. I saw the irony right there that everyone in tech was always hunting down the big problems and using big buzzwords here and there, but this was a problem that was high frequency and not yet addressed. And that was when I realized: Wow, this was not ok. There should be a better way of doing this.
I thought of Rubik's Cubes and Legos, and made a few drawings of the idea to show my entrepreneurship class. They loved it and were instantly so curious to ask more questions. I started to work on the patent and the 3D-printed prototypes immediately. Thank god to the random architecture class I took one semester that ended up being super useful!
Who is your target customer?
Modern people who are constantly on the go, whether it's long-distance traveling or simply commuting to work, and who do not want to spend too much time or space on getting ready, or do not want to sacrifice their user experience on the go. We started with the more younger female demographic in mind, and have now discovered the strong demands from the male and slightly more mature female markets. We are also exploring the B2B side of the business as well as it has been an integral part of my Day 1 vision.
How do you think ZIRUI is going to disrupt the market? What are the main differentiators between you and your competitors?
Currently there is no one that is quite in our lane, which is why we launched the first product to fill up the void of a high-end travel liquid set. We do not want to be a single beauty brand but rather a platform that serves beauty brands as no customer uses all products from one brand, and we just want to focus on optimizing the delivery method, ie. the packaging, to bring more "on-the-go"-friendly products to the increasingly busier and mobile modern user.
Who are your main investors?
We have not taken any outside funding yet, as we did a pre-sale campaign on Kickstarter and have won various pitch competitions. We are now seeing many positive signs and things are picking up on various channels, and we are starting to fundraise.
Why did you decide to start your business in Boston? How long has your company been around?
I went to college in western MA, so the natural next move was either Boston or New York. Contrary to popular beliefs for consumer startups to be in NYC, I believe Boston is a more intimate setting that is much more supportive and is perfect for our stage. And this day and age, you can really work anywhere, so the choice of city comes down to where I and the team can be most inspired.
The company was officially formed last year this time, so it’s been a year.
What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of ZIRUI?
We work out of CIC in Boston, which is a very nice environment. Prior to Boston, I was part of an accelerator Valley Venture Mentors in Springfield MA. I enjoy the events by The Capital Network, and we have recently been accepted to the MIT Enterprise Forum mentorship program as well. I moved to Boston officially only this summer, so I have yet a lot to explore. In general, the warm and welcoming community here is definitely helpful for our growth.
How do you use StartHub professionally?
I love how structured the sites are which really feel like a big help that can guide us through some technical aspects of being a startup. I also love using the platform to learn about other companies.
What are the next steps for ZIRUI?
We have finished our first round of production and are quickly selling through them, so the next step is to iterate the current GO Case, and work on expanding the product line from all the feedback we received from our customers. We have also just started our fundraising process for our first round of outside funding which is exciting. If anyone is interested, definitely talk to us (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is a lot of things in the making and I am so excited to work on them.
What is the most important thing our readers should know about ZIRUI?
ZIRUI is a brand that believes in playing less of a role in your life instead of getting you "hooked" on the product. The whole brand is about saving time and space spent on daily routines while preserving the experience WHEREVER you are. We believe in having fun, working hard, and doing good. We are already PETA-certified vegan, and are working towards integrating more of our values into the company.
We want to make the process interactive, so definitely follow us on social media (Instagram: myzirui, Twitter: zirui_team), or shoot us an email (email@example.com) anytime if you have any ideas or thoughts. We're always here to listen.Read Complete Article