GlossGenius coffee chat

As part of our weekly coffee chats, this week we talked to our interns at GlossGenius, Catherine Wang (‘19 Operations Research and Financial Engineering), Esther Liao (‘19 Computer Science), and Madeleine Cheyette (‘19 Computer Science). GlossGenius is a company which develops business software for independent beauty professionals, serving a key demographic of beauty professionals who would like to leave their jobs in salons and go independent. GlossGenius has built an app which serves as a digital personal assistant for these people, helping them to manage appointments, clients, and payments in a way that maximizes profits.

What sort of work/projects are you involved with?

Esther: I’ve been working on their social media, a little bit of engineering, and general product development.

Catherine: As business development interns, Esther, Madeleine and I have taken on a "jack-of-all-trades" sort of role where we fill in wherever we're needed. On one hand, we've used more of our communications/marketing skillsets to develop sales, customer experience, and content marketing strategies. On the other hand we've also had a chance to take on a project manager's mentality, helping to design features of the app, coding a little bit for white-glove service. Right now GlossGenius is looking to hire a customer service expert so Madeleine and I have even helped with interviewing potential candidates!

Madeleine: A bunch of different things! At the start of the internship we worked on some product management things, like brainstorming ways the app can be more intuitive for users when they download it. We’ve also done a lot of work on the sales side of the business, like creating a spreadsheet with potential salon partners. Lately we’ve been working on ways to streamline their customer service.

What do you and your team do for lunch?

Esther: We’ve either been eating out or packing food. Learning how to make food with a microwave has been pretty interesting. We’ve honestly just kind of talked about anything (a lot of food conversations).

Catherine: Back when we were in the Hearst Tower office by Columbus Circle, we would mostly bring lunch or buy from the cafeteria downstairs. Occasionally, we would buy food from the Turnstiles and go out to the fountain by Central Park and eat lunch. Now that we've moved down to Union Square, we've been trying some nearby restaurants! Last week, Danielle and Karim took us out for team lunch at Pokeworks, which was really fun and delicious.

Madeleine: We actually just moved offices this past week, so there are a bunch of cool new restaurants around us to try! Before that I was bringing lunch to work most days. On Fridays, we have a team lunch which is pretty fun.

Have you had any funny lunch conversations?

Catherine: I honestly am not sure what we talk about at lunch sometimes. Once, I was planning on eating lunch with Madeleine and Esther, like I usually do, but then I ran into Danielle in the cafeteria and she told me that she was "thinking about moving office spaces." I interpreted that to mean probably after our internship was over. Rookie mistake … 48 hours later she'd closed the deal and gotten the keys to the new office (apparently she negotiated a price that's way lower than the market price). When Danielle says "we move fast," she totally means it.

Madeleine: When we have a team lunch we get a chance to ask the founders more about their experience and if they have any advice, and it’s really cool to be able to have those conversations with the founders of the startup themselves. Otherwise we usually just talk about random stuff — mostly food.

If you could choose one word to describe the last week, what would it be and why?

Catherine: Hectic. To give you a sense of what we were working on: we moved office spaces, helped create a FAQ manual for customer experience team members, wrote content marketing blog posts, manually tested the partial refunds feature of the app for bugs, and even started interviewing potential customer service candidates. Overall though, I wouldn't say that hectic is bad at all. On the contrary, I think that the hectic pace is exciting and extremely rewarding. It feels like the company is flexible and dynamic because of how open Karim and Danielle are to changes and suggestions.

Madeleine: Eclectic — we were really handling a lot of different things in the office, switching between customer service and content marketing and product development. It was fun! Also things were just kind of all over the place since we moved offices.

What is a belief about startups/entrepreneurship that has changed as a result of your work this summer?

Esther: My initial impression that start-ups had a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve and the steps they would take to achieve those goals. Our company has a very clear vision, but sometimes the process of getting there feels a bit muddled.

Catherine: I took EGR491 last semester and the feeling that I got about startups from that class was that all startups can be fit into formulas: the MVP testing, the 3 Ps, customer segmentation, VC pitches. As a result, I didn't necessarily feel like working at an early-stage startup would feel so different from working at a larger company. The class didn't necessarily highlight how much more creative working at a startup can be. It's been really exciting seeing how quickly Danielle and Karim might think of an idea and execute it, since it's encouraged the three of us to think creatively about how we can do the same.

Madeleine: That they are the more ‘laid back’ kind of job — true, I do think that the atmosphere is slightly more chill than a lot of other jobs, but our co-founders work super, super hard. I think when you work at a startup, at least in the early phase, you are constantly thinking about your company. That’s why it’s important to do something you care about!


Nick Chow