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Must-Know Lessons in Raising Money, Hiring & Firing and Marketing, with Three Ships Co-Founder Connie Lo

Updated: Jun 5





Hello and welcome back to the show! Today we’re learning from Connie Lo, co-founder of Three Ships Beauty! We had Connie on the show back in August of 2021 and now she’s back with an update and we’re trying out a new format where we dig into some of her biggest lessons when it comes to funding, hiring and firing and marketing, and growing remote-first. This episode is absolute fire and I think we need to do another one to dig into Connie’s lessons on retail and product development- so if you agree and you want Connie back on the show let us know by sharing her episode on IG stories or dropping into our Facebook group!


January has been off to a crazy start, but gratitude has been a huge part of managing that. Practicing gratitude is honestly changes the way you live in life. For the most part, you can see most things through a positive lens. Gratitude actually rewires the neuro-pathways of your brain. Connie Lo gifted the 5-minute-journal last week to the whole team, and it took one of the team members just three weeks to start feeling a huge difference in her life. 


THE FUNDING PIECE 💸


Biggest lesson of the fundraising process, raising capital and bringing on investors… 

  • We asked for really crazy amounts and things from our investors, we weren’t organized, the thought we had to go to VCs right away 

  • For people early on in their journey: don’t be sucked into the glitter of some of the headlines that you see when it comes to raising - if you’re early in your career it’s better to go for angel investors (ideally someone who’s a former founder) - people that have gone through it is much more value add - someone who can connect all the dotts 

  • Set a minimum cheque, set an end date, don’t raise too much - easier to drum up fomo!

  • Always ask anyone you chat with (whether it’s a yes or no) for a minimum of three introductions 

If you were going to raise tomorrow, what advice would you give to a founder? 

  • Think about what you can realistically fund yourself and what you need to fund externally; do you even need to raise? 

  • That isn’t just the cash you have, but also loans, grants, pitch competition 

  • There are many ways to raise capital without starting the fundraising process

  • Look at the capital you already have and see what you can do with that 

  • Think through all your expenses - this is what I have - this is what I’ll generate - then compare future state expenses to what you already have 

  • Ask yourself: if I had more money, what are some risks that I would take? That’s how to get to the point of how much you should fundraise 


THE GROWTH PIECE 🚀


We stopped focusing on profitability and started focusing on growth at all costs after we took on investment. Spent a lot on influencer marketing, testing out loads of ads, hired a senior hire (too senior for us at the time). It took us away from the fundamentals of the company that we had working so hard to build. It was not working the way to were spending. We were growing aggressively 500% YoY but it just wasn’t working for us. Then we decided to focus on that. As of last year we reached profitability. We became so laser-focused on profitability. Everyone on the team knew we had to think from a profitability-first mindset. We found back the power of being scrappy of being a small brand. 


“We were acting like a large company when we were still a small company.” 


THE HIRING & FIRING PIECE 👋 


When your early employees don’t scale with the company: early on you don’t have a lot of money to hire really senior people, rather people willing to take a small salary. The goal is that this team member grows with you, but sometimes they don’t. When an employee is not showing growth in the speed or area needed for the company, start having those conversations a lot earlier. Have 1-1’s weekly, and share things right away - face to face. Don’t let things fester.


THE MARKETING PIECE


We didn’t want to keep focusing on the founder story to grow out business. Started focusing solely on product benefit. But we completely lost the fun essence of our brand. Starting looking at the problems we are facing now; managing retail, getting certified, etc. We found our swing again. 

  • Look at other brands when it comes to thinking about what to do from a marketing perspective but don’t lose your original identity 

  • Think about marketing that’s free as well as marketing that’s paid, get creative!

  • Think about what the dollar value of your time is 


ADVICE (what would you focus on to grow a brand): there’s no secret to virality, but I would take a tonne of BTS content if I were starting again - that content does so well and it creates really loyal customers. Film as much content as you can. Get clear on why you’re starting this company. What do you find yourself doing when you’re procrastinating? That’s the thing that you love. Share with as many friends and family and your network as much as possible. You never know who might be able to connect the dots.

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