The founder of a start-up counting celebrities, politicians and VIPs among its loyal customers says the business will always be a start-up at heart.

Photo of Venetia Archer

Venetia Archer, 31, founded London’s first digital beauty concierge, Ruuby, in 2015. Four years on, and following huge growth, she says she’s always learning and will most likely always consider Ruuby a start-up company.

Ruuby offers five-star beauty services to private clients in the comfort of their own homes, offices or hotel rooms. Everything from hair and make-up, to personal training and juice cleanses are offered through Ruuby’s popular app.

Australian-born Venetia moved to London aged 12 and ditched a promising career as a geo-political analyst to launch Ruuby, with the help of a Start Up Loan from Virgin Start Up.

Using the loan to bring the first iteration of the app to market, Venetia says she had to learn on the job.

She said: “It has definitely been a question of learning on the job. I make sure to surround myself with mentors and colleagues who have been there and done it before, to provide guidance when needed.

"But we still see ourselves as a start-up today, as we’re still learning every day. When you’re focused on building a business, I’m not sure when you stop seeing yourself as a start-up. There is always so much more to be achieved, and this is really part of our ethos."

With more than 700 freelance beauty professionals on their roll call, managing such a large supply chain could be seen as difficult- but Venetia is more concerned with helping to build capacity of those freelancers.

She added: “We are enabling freelance beauty therapists to grow their businesses supporting them to acquire new customers. We get a lot of in-bound requests to join and are attracting great talent.

“We see ourselves as a partner for many freelancers who have been able to scale their own businesses so much more by partnering with us, than going alone.”

Venetia isn’t worried that freelancers might ditch the app and fly solo once they have found new custom- such as the threat of linking with top brands like L’Oréal, which offers a training academy to further enhance their skills.   

“We’re about building a community,” Venetia added. “There’s always a chance that people will be happier to work on their own, but we strive to be a really helpful partner, including benefits that add value across our service offering. Many are making more money than ever by offering their services through us, and they cater to 100+ customers. We want to build personal relationships with our freelancers.”

Venetia was one of many business owners to celebrate the launch of Virgin StartUp’s pledge to ensure a 50/50 Start Up Loans gender investment split.

“It’s great to be involved with Virgin StartUp, and I think recognising women’s value and strengths as great entrepreneurs needs to be a normalised part of the narrative.”

Find out how a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp could help your business today.