Confidence is key to securing vital funds to scale your business, according to the founders of a beauty care range going from strength-to-strength.

Photo of Liha Beauty founders
📸 Darcie Judson

Liha Beauty was founded by friends Liha Okunniwa and Abi Oyepitan, who met at university in the 1990s. After always trying to mix their own products, they decided to launch a business almost 20 years later.

The duo aims to create beauty products that are like them: a mixture of African roots, with a quintessential British attitude.

Wanting to grow their business, the pair participated in the Virgin StartUp CrowdBoost programme – an Accelerator designed for founders looking to run a successful equity-based crowdfunding campaign.

Liha says the programme gave them the perfect platform to gain investment to take their business to the next stage.

She said: “Confidence is key. In real life, or online. Believe in what you have created and shout about your achievements and what sets you apart. Also, get used to saying 'we are raising at the moment' to everyone and anyone! Often great leads come from random conversations.

“CrowdBoost forced us to get all our ducks in a row. The homework set each week is challenging. But it was actually so helpful for us as a scrappy start-up that was just two people constantly reacting and never having time to pause and actually look at how far we had come. We learned how to best communicate that to investors.

“Your story is essential. If you've got grit, tell them. In detail. I used to be a little shy about the fact that we started so small with £6k and I thought it would put people off, but that trajectory actually showed we know how to hustle and double up. Whatever makes you unique, flip it around and use it to your advantage.”

And Liha says it’s vitally important to have your pitch nailed before you meet any investors. “Have your seven second pitch burned into your memory at all times,” she said. “Who has 30 seconds to listen to you anymore?!”

During the programme, all participants have the opportunity to hone their pitch to investors. Liha and Abi impressed so much during a mock pitch that the investors decided to fund them even before they got to crowdfund, raising a total of £200,000 and allowing them to trade globally.

Liha added: “Things are fantastic. We have launched worldwide on Net-a-Porter and are in talks with some really exciting brands. We are developing a range for hotels and spas and are branching out into the US once Net-a-Porter exclusivity ends there. We also have a very interesting retail concept that we will need to do a larger raise for at some point. 2020 is about focusing on new innovations and product launches and locking down our core customer. It's been a jump going from doing everything yourself to delegating, but a welcome one!”

To find out more about how Virgin StartUp could help you and your business, see our CrowdBoost page.