Our special series about businesses founded in 2020 highlights tales of resilience, remote relationships and pivoting. No.2: Glaize
Former investment banker Gina Farran began her place on a six-month business accelerator run by global venture capital firm Antler in March 2020. Two weeks in, she began to feel unwell and, by the time the UK went into complete lockdown, she had tested positive for COVID-19.
It wasn’t the best start for her new business, but not one that has held her back. “It was an emotional rollercoaster and when you spend three weeks battling something like COVID, at the start of the programme when everyone else is getting on with building a business, you feel like you’re missing out on a lot,” she says.
Joining the scheme, the second UK cohort run by Singapore-based Antler, she had not settled on a business idea, but teamed up with co-founder Chris Mosedale, who then swiftly relocated to Glasgow for lockdown.
Glaize came from Lebanon-born Gina’s own frustrations with nail care. “In Lebanon, women are always really glammed up and beauty services are very accessible and a lot cheaper than anywhere in Europe,” she says.
“When I joined the hardcore environment of investment banking, I didn’t have time to do these things that made me feel better about myself anymore.”
Glaize delivers toxin-free, made-to-measure gel nails to your door, which can be stuck on for 10-14 days. Customers submit four photos of their hands with a smartphone and Glaize uses computer vision technology to produce a 3D model, which is then used to make customised gel nails.
With Mosedale’s background in biotech, the business also aims to focus on the chemical composition of gels, which can be harmful to the nails.
The duo pitched to Antler and were one of seven businesses selected for investment, a challenge in itself as presentations were done over video call.
“We stood up when we were pitching, as we would have done in the same room, and it was difficult but the end result was positive,” says London-based Farran, adding that the hard work came afterwards – executing the dream they had sold to investors.
“We started experiencing delays with suppliers, with some orders being held somewhere for three weeks because everywhere was operating with less capacity. The logistics sector was badly hit and that affected us with product development.”
There was also the fact that the two co-founders were separated by geography, but the clear segregation of roles addressed this, she adds.
The product, introduced at a time when salons spent much of the year closed, has launched to a small group of people, with a full launch in Q1 2021 and, shortly after, the business will introduce a fully plant-based product, Farran says, with a roll-out to other countries.
They are also working towards closing a £250,000 funding round to enable them to expand the workforce.
“Coping with the pandemic has made us stronger and more resilient, although anyone starting a business already has to be tough,” she adds.CoronavirusCOVID-19