She built a startup that raised millions, shares 3 tips

How Indonesia's counterfeiting problem spurred a multi-million dollar beauty business

Launching a startup without any business experience can be intimidating.

But that didn’t stop Chrisanti Indiana — who was just 24 years old when she founded Social Bella.

“You have nothing to lose, that’s actually the benefit of starting young,” Indiana, now 31, told CNBC Make It.

The Indonesian beauty and personal care retailer has raised nearly $225 million since 2018, and has secured an impressive list of investors including East Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Temasek.

The business started as an e-commerce platform called Sociolla in 2015, but since then it has grown to 48 stores in Indonesia and 13 stores in Vietnam.

Indiana told CNBC Make It how she turned her startup into a multimillion-dollar beauty company.

1. Be proactive

When running a business, adapting to change is paramount, says Indiana, especially when you least expect it.

Like all businesses around the world, Indiana had to navigate the Covid pandemic, which coincided with his company’s fifth anniversary, he said.

“We are very excited about 2020 … we planned many campaigns and events, and then the pandemic hit. It was shocking,” added Indiana.

“There is a lockdown and the situation is very different. Not only for the customers, but the team as well.”

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“You have nothing to lose, that’s the real benefit of starting young,” says Chrisanti Indiana, who launched her startup Social Bella when she was 24.

As chief marketing officer, Indiana quickly spearheaded a change in direction during “a confusing time,” by pivoting to online events and shifting its focus from makeup to self care from home.

“It’s a long learning curve because you also have to manage the team, make sure everything is OK and let them know we can do it together,” Indiana said.

“It’s about making sure you’re agile enough to go through dynamic changes.”

2. Do the right thing

The idea for Sociolla came about in 2015, when Indiana discovered the online proliferation of fake makeup products in Indonesia.

The products sometimes sell for “a fraction” of the price of the original, he said.

The e-commerce platform is Indiana’s solution to the problem — through it, consumers can get products that are safe, authentic and certified by Indonesian authorities.

“Since we started … we have made sure that we work only with authorized distributors or only with brand owners.”

If you have a business, you want to be successful. But at the same time, you also want to make sure you’re doing it right.

Chrisanti Indiana

Co-founder and CMO, Social Bella

But that approach is not easy, especially when awareness about the authenticity of beauty products is low in the past, Indiana said.

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“When you have a business, you want to be successful. But at the same time, you also want to make sure you’re doing it right,” he added.

“It’s a challenge to educate consumers that cheap doesn’t always mean better.”

But that strategy seems to be paying off. Social Bella today more than 30 million users in all its business units, according to Indiana, sells an inventory of 12,000 products from 400 brands worldwide.

Social Bella started as an e-commerce platform called Sociolla. Since then, it has expanded to 47 stores in Indonesia and 16 stores in Vietnam.

The business has also caught the eye of investors – the latest round of fundraising totaled $56 million, led by US private equity firm L Catterton.

“It’s been a long journey but I’m proud that we chose to do the right thing from day one and up to now.”

3. Choose the right leaders

While being a young entrepreneur has never held him back, Indiana admits there are “a lot of things” he doesn’t know about running a business.

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So Indiana attributes part of Social Bella’s success to the diverse backgrounds and expertise of her co-founders.

Indiana, who has a background in the creative industry, leads in branding and marketing – while his brother and president Christopher Madiam, who studied computing, brings technical knowledge to the table.

John Rasjid, CEO of Social Bella, has a background in finance.

Social Bella was founded in 2015 by Chrisanti Indiana, her brother and president Christopher Madiam (left) and CEO John Rasjid (right).

Social Bella

“Having my two co-founders is very important to me, we support each other and we have a very good dynamic.”

His brother Madiam, who has been a role model in Indiana since his youth, was a particular source of strength, he said.

“He always pushed me to grow, learn and take on challenges with an open mind and positive attitude,” she said.

“It’s easier to tell people nice things they want to hear, but Chris has always been honest with me. And that’s something I really appreciate.”

don’t forget: This millennial is gambling during the pandemic. Now his startup has raised $225 million

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