Startup Stories: Birchbox—Discover Beauty and Grooming Products

This is a picture of our second beta box. For our first shipment we used glue to secure the samples. That went horribly! We iterated and changed the packaging to include tissue paper and wrapped packages. It worked much better and contributed to the feeling of Birchbox being a "gift" you can buy for yourself.
Hey, I’m Chris. I wrote this article and I’m also the founder and Editor of DailyTekk. Lets connect on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Check back daily!

What if you could get hand-picked beauty, grooming and lifestyle products delivered to your house for just $10 a month? Save time, get recommendations, lots of choice? Well you can thanks to Birchbox, the startup that is doing nothing short of redefining the retail process. From TIME to Marie Claire to ADWEEK to Us Weekly, everyone seems to be interested in Birchbox. To give you the inside scoop on how Birchbox got it’s start, here’s co-founder and co-CEO Hayley Barna:

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 6.59.39 AMBirchbox is the result of so many influences – everything from life experiences to classwork. In part, the muse behind the business idea is my friendship with Mollie Chen (now the Editorial Director at Birchbox). We lived together in NYC after college and she would bring home high-end beauty samples from the editor’s closet at the magazine she worked for. My co-founder Katia noticed I always had the newest and best products, despite never shopping for them, and in that was the kernel of our business idea. We set out to build a service that helped consumers discover new products in the same way their best friend would provide recommendations.

The first thing we did to gain traction was talk to everyone we possibly could about our idea. We were the opposite of “stealth”. Since we were in school at the time we reached out to professors, students, alumni to pressure test our ideas and get advice for how to get started.

Our first office was my on campus apartment at Harvard Business School. Katia and I set up shop there building the first few hundred Birchboxes ourselves. We were fueled by lots of dumplings and reality TV. We’d drag deliveries to the post office in big blue IKEA bags.

Now, three years later, we just moved into a new office in NYC (our 4th! we keep outgrowing them!) and it couldn’t be more different. We’re on a high floor in a fancy office building. But we’ve kept the startup touches… lots of bright colors and playful accents. Everything from hula hoops to chalkboard walls.

Birchbox was beta tested while Katia and I were students at Harvard Business School. The startup community in Boston was hugely helpful! We entered a business plan competition and received lots of valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs and VCs. Since launching the business in NYC we’ve really enjoyed being a part of the growing ...

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