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Business  8, May 2014

Can this startup transform women into YouTube belle Michelle Phan?

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Vietnam online portal for beauty Veva.vn wants to give women a way to stay better informed of trends and cosmetic products

Cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein once said, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” That is the sort of mantra many ladies adopt, as they go on a quest to beautify their appearances with make up brushes in one hand and manuals in another.

Women in Vietnam are no different; Duong The Vinh sees a majority of them taking up the philosophy, first on a Facebook page, Yêu Làm Đẹp, and then on online portal Veva.vn, which was seen in action at Echelon Ignite Vietnam 2014.

Having worked for Ringier, the firm that manages Women’s Health and ELLE magazine in Vietnam, Duong understands that there is a dearth of the number of channels for women to ask questions pertaining to the topic of beauty.

Founded in 2012, Yêu Làm Đẹp, which translates to “I love beauty” in English, allows women to send inquiries to the Facebook Page and receive answers from beauty experts. However, he soon realised that with 500,000 fans and way too many messages in the Page’s inbox, scalability and speed was becoming an issue. There needed to be a better solution.

Thus, after talking to two of his friends — who are now in the team — Veva.vn was born in October 2013. It started out as a questions-and-answer (Q&A) platform, (think Quora for beauty) but quickly evolved into a place for people to post reviews, check product prices and communicate with other users.

At the moment, the bootstrapped company provides targeted advertising (marketing service), where it runs content marketing campaigns or provides an official account on the site for clients. These clients include Revlon and Erno Laszlo New York, two beauty brands looking to explore the thriving Vietnamese market.

Also Read: Echelon 2014: Can Spavista be the Agoda for beauty, health and wellness services?

However, in conversation with e27, Duong noted that he is looking to raise seed funding of US$70,000 to US$100,000 to reach out to 800,000 to a million users by end-2014.

In the near future, he is looking to engage more users with video content, a subscription box concept, and possibly integrate more verticals like fashion and lifestyle into the portal. For example, users can share and embed YouTube videos of American entrepreneur and internet beauty star Michelle Phan (who is Vietnamese by ethnicity) with subtitles in the Vietnamese language.

The subscription model, however, will be pretty different from current players in the market, like Glamybox who was recently acquired by VanityTrove. Instead of charging users to pay for samples, the company will generate revenue by charging brands to have their samples placed in the highly-curated subscription boxes, said Duong.

Also Read: Online beauty subscription service bellabox secures A$1.3M in funding

Elaine Huang

Elaine Huang

Elaine is a fervent believer that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, we will all be snapping away at them with our phones and posting them onto Instagram. A Mass Communication graduate of Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Film and Media Studies, she enjoys writing about technology and entrepreneurs. When not hashtagging her way through all sorts of trouble, Elaine is probably contemplating how to write in the third person.

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