Neil Patel

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In a recent joint interview, Danielle and Leah Cohen-Shohet, the dynamic twin duo, shared their remarkable journey of building GlossGenius, a beauty payments software company. From their childhood in Florida to scaling their business with venture capital, the twins discussed the challenges, setbacks, and triumphs that shaped their entrepreneurial path.

Their venture, GlossGenius, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, Techstars, Right Side, and 2048 Ventures.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Growing up in Florida with encouraging parents who instilled a mindset to think big and excel in diverse interests.
  • Overcoming the terminal illness of their father during freshman year at Princeton, shaping their resilience and approach to challenges.
  • Pursuing separate paths within Goldman Sachs laid the groundwork for their future entrepreneurial endeavors.
  • The creation of GlossGenius, a beauty payments software company, was fueled by Danielle’s passion for the beauty industry and Leah’s entrepreneurial spirit.
  • GlossGenius operated on a bootstrap model, emphasizing the early establishment of solid unit economics for sustainable growth.
  • Activating the venture capital path in 2020, raising close to $75 million, accelerated GlossGenius’s scaling process.
  • GlossGenius aims to be a comprehensive platform for self-care entrepreneurs, providing functionality, support, and partnership for success in the beauty and self-care industry.


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About Danielle Cohen-Shohet:

Danielle Cohen-Shohet is the CEO and Co-Founder of GlossGenius, a leading business management and payment solution provider for small businesses in the beauty and wellness industry.

Over the last few years, Danielle and her team have emerged as one of the industry’s cult-favorite software brands, getting named the “Best Industry Software” by popular trade publications as GlossGenius empowers small business owners to be more successful.

Danielle is a self-taught mobile and web engineer, hobbyist makeup artist, former Goldman Sachs analyst, and graduate of Princeton University, summa cum laude.

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Connect with Danielle Cohen-Shohet:

About Leah Cohen-Shohet:

Leah Cohen-Shohet has diverse work experience spanning various industries. In her current role as the Chief Business Officer at GlossGenius, she is responsible for driving business growth and overseeing the company’s complete business management platform.

Prior to that, Leah worked at Archipelago, where she played a key role in the go-to-market strategy and launch of their Risk Data Platform.

Leah also served as a Board Member at FINOS, where she promoted open innovation in the financial services industry through collaborative projects.

Earlier in her career, Leah worked at as the EVP of Growth & Adoption and as the Strategic Chief of Staff and Global Head of the Community Specialist Group.

Leah was instrumental in building critical initiatives, leading teams, and driving strategic partnerships.

Before joining, Leah worked at Goldman Sachs, where she was part of the Principal Strategic Investments team responsible for managing a global portfolio of strategic investments. Additionally, Leah co-founded and co-owned Princeton Academic Prep.

Leah Cohen-Shohet attended Princeton University from 2008 to 2012, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.

Connect with Leah-Cohen Shohet:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today we have ah a really amazing episode. You know ahead of us. Obviously this one is special for me as say many of you know I’m a father of identical twin girls. So obviously you know ah very inspiring. What.

Alejandro Cremades: Those twins you know are doing with their company. Very remarkable. We’re going to be talking about building scaling financing talking about how they started bootstrapping the company how they really. Demonstrated the unit economics and how that they led them to to to go into the Vc route and raisingcing money from vcs really how they went about product market fit and many other interesting things that are gonna be making this episode super inspiring so without further ado. I’ll like to wake welcome our guest today Danielle Cohen-Shohet and then also Leah Cohen Shohet welcome to the show.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Hey Alejandro.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: Thanks so much for having us.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally born and obviously you know you both grew up there in Florida so how was life growing up Danielle maybe you can you can walk us through that and then lea feel free to to expand? yeah.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: Yeah, so we were born and raised in Florida and I thought we had a really wonderful childhood. We had parents that always encouraged us to think really big and be excellent in every single thing we were doing and. Both of us were able to explore so many different areas of interest and I feel like that was really formative for doing the thing that we’re doing today. So no complaints on the childhood side except it went all too fast.

Alejandro Cremades: And Leah Cohen-Shohet how was the dynamics tool of being identical twin girls and growing up and and also the the personalities that both of you have because even though you both are identical twins you’re also very different when it comes to personalities right? and and I find that. When it comes to identical twins people tend to make the mistake of of looking you know at at the twins as as ah as a 1 thing instead of like really separate individuals. So how was how were that those dynamics say for you guys Liam.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Yeah, so you definitely have a front row seat at this I can imagine and and you hit the nail on the head there look in terms of the dynamics I think it took us some time to find what our own unique strengths were and how we’re actually going to work together and and be better for being together. But. I can remember having I think my my best friend by my side for most of childhood which was the awesome thing about being an identical twin and growing up together and then at times my worst enemy as well because some of the fights would be pretty bad. But overall I think we we learned a lot from each other and we benefited. Tremendously from each other’s presence and you know Danielle mentioned I think having like a pretty unique and awesome childhood I’d say one of those things that did get developed in us were some of those unique traits so Danielle herself being super creative and artistic. She was always out doing different activities that would cater to those traits and. I was always out doing different activities that would cater a little bit more to like my analytical and methodical side. So I think we did get a chance both to spend a lot of time together as twins but also develop our own unique traits too.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: 1 other thing all hunger. That’s pretty interesting as I reflect on our childhood and being twins is that individually. We’re both really competitive people and when I think about our childhood together. It’s interesting to think if that was bred by having the twinship in front of us where there was someone who was very similar to you in terms of strengths and was always there to just kind of be a benchmark in a frame of reference for what great looked like so. Thought about that a bunch and that was an interesting part too to think through. Um you know our twinship growing up and even now we’ve kind of made it one of the best things about us that we’re still very competitive people. But no doubt it could be related to us having been twins.

Alejandro Cremades:
Well 1 thing that is also super interesting here is that you’ve done things in parallel right? I mean you eventually decided to go and and study economics both of you but then also you. Both landed at the same university so Leah

Leah Cohen-Shohet: I wish I could say we planned it but the truth is is that we had applied to the same schools. We didn’t know what the decisions would be at the time and we both wanted to go to the same school for almost the same reasons and. I guess at at that point in time it became inevitable that the 2 of us got to go to the same university.

Alejandro Cremades: and and I know there as well that and during the time at the university you know it was one of your biggest setbacks you know fortunately, with the with the passing of your father. Ah, and and and how that also shaped you up as human beings say as well Danielle can you can you walk us through this.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: Yes, so Lee and I as you mentioned both went the the same college we were at Princeton when we got to Princeton we had got unfortunate news that our father had a terminal illness. This was our freshman year and what would normally be a. Pretty exciting time and one that hopefully is full of exploration and discovery for most freshmen students was I guess in some ways set back by a really really difficult personal event with the news of our father who we are both extremely close to and you know I think looking um. With the benefit of hindsight and and after years of reflection on this. It was a extremely formative experience for both of us and you know I think looking at having to go through a setback like that someone we were so close to like the patriarch of our family and. Now some of the setbacks even day to day you encounter in the startup journey. There is something there in terms of the resilience that it shaped us with and probably one of the most formative things I’ve ever had to deal with and and in some way the biggest setback I will have ever had to experience in my life.

Alejandro Cremades: So how was say Leah how was that team you know of um of a turning point 2 for you guys you know at ah at a perspective world view level because it ended up making you both stronger. Ah no ah suchcha so chowo unfortunate you know event and and like this as Daniel was ah was alluding to ultimately you know, ah you got the summa cum laude and from from a university like princeton 1 of the most and renowned institutions out there. So. It’s pretty amazing how you guys came out on top and. And also how both of you landed in Goldman Sachs the same institution again.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Who yeah, so with regard to a turning point I mean look you could curse the darkness or light a candle and I think this was a period of time where we both chose and wanted to light a candle and focus on the future and focus on the things that. Were excited about and brought a lot of life and energy and fulfillment to us and hopefully to others as well. So I think that with you know as Danielle mentioned I think that was really how this experience shaped me.

Alejandro Cremades: Now.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: I think too I’d I’d probably add. There’s when I think about the loss of our father and a really big setback at um during college at Princeton I felt like it made it that much more important to make the. The rest of the college experience that much. Um, you know, kind of richer and and that much ah just kind of make the most of the rest of the years there um freshman year was super super tough and so it really hit us around having lost our father at the end of freshman year. Basically that. There’s only a few more years left in college and now we can in in a very unconstrained way pursue a lot of areas of opportunity and make the most of our experience there in college given it was a little bit more difficult to do that during freshman year. So. I’d say there is a lot more intention too when I think about the remaining years in college to make the most of it and that was a really important thing we did because I think on the whole the entire period of college was a very formative experience for us.

Alejandro Cremades: So both of you ended up going to Goldman Sachs and and that was you know a pretty interesting you know point in time for both of you because obviously this was the most immediate step you know obviously for Danielle to to to make the leap of faith and and and really get going with clause geniuss. But then also you are say the most immediate step 2 for layout to to experience the venture world now because there was a spinoff there with symphony and and I’m wondering like how was that experience for you too of of being involved with a company like symphony which you know has grown.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Do.

Alejandro Cremades: Pretty rapidly raised a ton of money I mean we even had the David the girlie also on the on the show for those that are listening that will love to learn about that. But I guess what kind of visibility would you say that gave you into the world of venture.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Yeah, look so my time in symphony was awesome I learned a lot and I loved working with David Huge fan of his and with regard to what kind of visibility gave me into venture I’d say the that the journey that we set out for was you know the 2 of us had this. Payments did receipts point of sale startup in college we really wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial journey and this it’s time at Goldman first allowed me to understand how venture worked and what do management companies get evaluated on and how do you grow good company and what are the metrics you need to have and all that other stuff and then of course. Turning over to symphony that was really my time to start to learn the mechanics and operations of how a startup scales. How do you go from? you know pree $0 of funding scaled up to several hundred employees. You know tens of millions in revenue um in a very short amount of time. So I think those 2 experiences helped me get a fuller picture of what life as an entrepreneur would be like both on the investing as well as the operating side.

Alejandro Cremades: Sold Daniel for you. You know, being there Goldman Sachs Two thousand around two thousand and fourteen how does the thought of you know, venturing into the unknown. How did that come up.

Danielle Cohen Shohet: It was scary but exciting at the same time and if I think about Goldman Sachs experience I got there one of the best parts about it was that I was surrounded with really exceptional. Super commercial people and so I deeply appreciate that experience from the firm. And it kind of gave me a great foundation to think about other you know, commercially driven opportunities. It would be very exciting to me and when it came time to thinking about next steps after Goldman like I said it was scary but it was one of these things that I just kind of went headfirst in. There was as Leah mentioned a digital receipts point of sale startup that we had both worked on in college I was also really interested in the beauty industry having done makeup artistry in college as a side hustle and so I already kind of had an area of interest which was. Beauty and payments and when you kind of fast forward to having the opportunity of Goldman. It’s no surprise that I started gloss genius which is a beauty payments software company so that was kind of um. You know, interesting how it all came together but 1 of the things that I felt like helped me was just pursuing my passion and being a little bit fearless as well about it so which was ultimately um, the beginning of something really great.

Alejandro Cremades: So leia what point does the ah the idea of you joining forces again because I mean at this point you were separated from Danielle from being in the same institution you know for for a couple of years right especially during you know your time at symphony but at what point does the thought of hey I’m um. I’m coming with you on this anil when did that happen.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Yes, no, we had been talking about it since day one actually and this was something that I’d always been close to involved in behind the scenes spending time with Danielle on you know with with all of the. Extra time that I did have so. We’d been talking about it literally since day one you know I think when things really got real for us was when it was time to start scaling the company and so I joined before we started scaling the company and I saw all the amazing progress we had made the things we were doing with customers. It was. Really inspiring to me and I was super excited about you know the things that we could continue to do for customers and I guess we we made a perfect match at that time.

Alejandro Cremades: So that Ile for the people that are listening to really get it. What ended up being Glos Genius What’s the business model there on. How do you guys make money.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: For Sure. So Gloss Genius is a software payments Company. We make software and payment solutions for self-care businesses like salons spas studios and we basically help them manage and grow their operations. So when you think about everything one of these types of businesses might need like. Online presence management or client relationship management payments booking marketing and basically everything else that goes into running a business.. That’s what we do, Um, one of the other things. That’s really interesting about it as well is that when you think about the challenge that many of these businesses have too. There are. All basically using workflows that are really disconnected a lot of business owners spend so much time they lose a bunch of information and productivity and it kind of keeps them back from achieving great things and bringing everything together and offering more automation. Um, what? Gloss Genius really is is a product and platform that’s enabling more local entrepreneurs to succeed.

Alejandro Cremades: So In this case, lay up during the early days. Um, you all bootstrapped the operation but eventually it was all about demonstrating that they were solidity unit economics and then deciding that it was about time to activate the Vc path. So. What did that demonstration. What did that validation phase of those unit economics look like.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: So it started first with the the qualitative validation and that was just because sheer size of numbers but some very early qualitative demonstration. We had customers that were not just giving us raving reviews about the product. But. Evangelizing the product in really meaningful ways. Yeah I remember 1 early anecdote from this period was we had a customer who had decided to dye their hair gloss genius colors mind you our colors aren’t super flattering for most folks pink and yellow and a gradient of orange. And she was talking about how much she loved her software that helped her manage her business and the new clients that she was able to get from it so we started to see just that these qualitative slivers of validation in increasing amounts and then ah after some time. You have to start looking more like the numbers and the volume of of what you’re getting and I think the things that mattered for us were first the customer success we were seeing on the platform our customers coming in are they able to manage their business and save. Time from manual operations but also grow their business. How many more appointments how many more clients are they getting what is their book of business look like so can we as a platform deliver that value we started to see healthy metrics there and then secondly on the acquisition side. We started to see healthy metrics around.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Acquisition of new customers. But also the economics of that Acquisition. What is our payback look like and you know at the time it was too early to start doing ltv calculations. But the cost of the customer acquisition was something we paid close attention to to make sure that we were able to always invest profitably in our next. So ah, next wave of growth. So to sum up, you know we looked both for these qualitative data points were customers evangelizing were they having success with the platform were those paired with quantitative data points that supported customer success and how they were growing their business and of course how we could grow sustainably as well.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: 1 other thing I’ll touch on there alejandro too on the topic of super solid un anomics if you think about even the earlier customers we had and the costs of serving them and how you could take that much farther out as you got more and more customers.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: As as a business of our own.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: There were positive Union Economics from a very early point in the company’s journey and there are many startups out there that have negative Union Economics and even as companies get larger each customer they acquire becomes more unprofitable to serve and we kind of had the opposite approach where we. You know thought hey if we create a product that can stand by itself. We obviously are going to prove out so much more so much faster and get the business in a much better place. Um sooner and I think that will help us with. A lot of capital efficiency and fundamentally doing a much better job reinvesting back into customers at a much more efficient pace so that was extremely important early on and we we really stayed close to making sure that everything we were doing allowed us to reinvest back into customers. Much better and faster so we could ultimately help them succeed more with more powerful sophomore more functionality. Um, a great value. We were offering for them and so on so forth that I think has become a hallmark of our company now.

Alejandro Cremades: So just to double click on this Daniel how was that the activation of the vc of the venture capital path like I guess say before even going into that you know to really capture the um, the total amount there how how much have you all raised to date.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: We’ve raised close to $75000000 to date and by the time we raised our first institutional round the company had already had pretty meaningful traction. Ah, certainly. Venture capitals helped us scale in really exciting ways and I think that’s the best use case of venture capital is driving more scale to a business much faster but certainly venture capital might not necessarily be the best to use if the business doesn’t have solid unit economics and a foundation to begin with so I’m really happy. You know about when we ultimately got to pursue venture capital because it meant that we could do many more things faster and in a you know, kind of continued efficient way that would also help us reinvest back into customers even faster and by the time we pursued venture capital this was. late twenty twenty and there was already a lot demonstrated so we just were able to think much bigger.

Alejandro Cremades: Now a question to ah to follow up on that for Ai is obviously when when you get venture capital investors or you know customers or employees vision is a really big one and when we’re thinking about vision here I want to ask if you were.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Um, yeah.

Alejandro Cremades: To go to sleep tonight and I’m gonna ask you both? Okay, we start with Leah Cohen-Shohet: and then Daniel feel free to jump into expand as well if you were to go to sleep tonight lay and you wake up in a world where the vision of close genius is fully realized what does that world look like.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Absolutely so like Danielle mentioned earlier. How important it is for us enabling this you know new wave of entrepreneurs when I think about the big vision for gloss. Genius. It’s a platform that anyone in the self-care industry can access. To start run or grow their business and do it incredibly successfully on their own terms has all of the functionality. All of the utility all of the support and partnership that a business would need to be successful.

Alejandro Cremades: And that.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: And I’d probably add to that just to put it simply in my mind. Yeah I think Gloss Genius In a simple sense is a gateway for entrepreneurship with a few buttons. Anyone can basically succeed as entrepreneur and we’re building the best of. Software and payments technology and putting into the hands of anyone who wants to scale a business they have and succeed more doing things that they really Love. So I’m super excited about bringing all this together and I feel like there’s just a world of Opportunity. We can be creating for entrepreneurs. And a gateway we can help them access for success.

Alejandro Cremades: And especially when we think about scale because I’ve I’ve heard you both a you know mentioning this you know a few times when you think about scaling an operation like this. Um I Guess you know this goes to you layout. How. How has it been the experience with glorious geniuss of of really scaling things up and and and and pushing you know for achieving something that is more product- lit type of growth.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: So always There’s always new challenges and that’s ah, what makes it hard but also makes it fun most days you know in terms of how it’s been I think we always try to anchor and start with our vision and where do we want to go over a 3 or 4 year period and then try to bring that back to the present day and make sure that we’re solving the most important problems and priorities to get to that 3 or 4 year longer term vision of what we want for for our customers and for the company. Um you know with regard to growth specifically we’ve definitely evolved. How we’ve grown. We’re going to continue to evolve how we’ve grown some of the things that worked for us when we were not venturefunded. You know may not have the scale when we are venture funded and we’ve been evolving our our growth motions. Um, we’ve also been evolving as customers have pulled us into new areas and new industries as well. So I think the constant here has been looking for example at what we want to do longer term pairing that back to the short term but as well looking at how the world around us is changing and how we need to change quickly to stay on top of that.

Alejandro Cremades: And you’re talking about change and and adapting so obviously Danielle you are leading the chart when it comes to product and engineering. So how do you go about. Listening to the customer adapting you know and changing you know also to to keep having that product market fit. You know, really nicely shaped up what what does that look like.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: I am just obsessed with customers talking to them learning from them interviewing them stalking the customer experience Channel to see what they’re saying to other people who are solving problems with them for them. What are they asking about where are they getting stuck really knowing the details. When it comes to what customers are talking about what they’re asking about what they need and spending time to not just listen and learn from that. But even observe things that they might not be sharing directly so when it kind of comes to bringing all that stuff together I think the word to describe It is just obsession. There’s no other way to build a great company and a great product. That’s really helping customers other than to be totally obsessed with what their needs and what their needs are and how you can solve it.

Alejandro Cremades: So I’m gonna I’m gonna take you both on a journey now with my next question I’m gonna put you into a time machine I’m gonna be putting both of you into a time machine. Um, and I’m gonna be bringing you back to perhaps may I would say maybe like. Yeah, so around may twenty twenty let’s say twenty fifteen okay may 2015 you know, which was a right around the time where you know the the idea of glo geniuss. You know would take transition into really becoming a company and let’s say you know right? there. You know, maybe around April where where you were starting to incubate the thought let’s say I put you both right there in front of your younger selves and you’re able to give those younger selves that younger Danielle that younger Leah one piece of advice before launching the company. What would that be and why. Given what you know now. Perhaps we start with Danielle and then we’ll we’ll turn it to Leah.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: Yeah I would say one piece of advice I mean many on my mind but 1 of the most important things to me that I have been continuously harnessing more and more is just this idea of like. Listening to yourself and customers oftentimes founders have this intuition that is either shaped by what they know about the market how close they are to customers how much time they’ve spent thinking about this the patterns that they have been able to. See experience and recognize from the very early days and I think that intuition is extremely important and you almost in some way take it for granted and when you think 1 thing and you kind of ah um, you know, kind of wait a little bit you almost kind of realize your intuition was right? and. 1 of the pieces of advice I give to my younger self is listen to yourself and harness your intuition. Um, much much more than you do today and I think this is consistently something I hear from other founders as well. When we talk about um you know what we do a few years into starting the journey and so it’s. Pretty useful to be able to think about the future and using that now. But if I could go back a few years and do even more of that man that would be exciting.

Alejandro Cremades: What about you later.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Yeah I love what Danielle just said you know to add to that I think obviously keeping to your intuition is is really important but I would say for me, it’s it’s really about stay focused on the longer term There are so many different. Vicissitudes ups and downs in the startup journey. You know there are so many different corners to turn and I think as long as you can zoom out and take a look at the the forest and not stay too much in the trees. You’ll understand what the trajectory of the businesses. What customers want. How are you tracking to this ultimate vision for what you want to enable for those customers. So I think a big learning lesson here for me would have been continue to say focus on the longer term and make sure the longer term trajectory looks the way you want it to look.

Alejandro Cremades: So for the people that are listening that are inspired that would love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do solea.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Email Laya at glos genius dot com.

Alejandro Cremades: What about you? Daniel.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: I wouldn’t say email my email box is already pretty full I am pretty good on Linkedin and if there’s. Other creative ways people could find or reach me that would also work and be able to catch my attention.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey both of you. Thank you So very much for being on the deal maker show. It has been an honor to have you with us.

Leah Cohen-Shohet: Thank you Alejandro.

Danielle Cohen-Shohet: Thank you one honor.


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