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.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Childhood and Dynamics

Born and raised in Florida, Danielle and Leah credit their encouraging parents for instilling in them a mindset to think big and excel in everything. Despite being identical twins, they emphasized their distinct personalities and the misconception of viewing twins as a single entity.

The competitive spirit fostered in their childhood played a role in shaping their resilience. Danielle remembers the opportunity to explore many different areas of interest. Leah thinks back at the amazing dynamics the duo shared, though it took them time to find their unique strengths.

It was also a while before they could figure out how to work together and complement their skills. The duo benefited in many ways from each other’s presence. Danielle is super creative and artistic and is open to doing different activities that cater to those traits.

Leah has more of an analytical and methodical side, and her choice of activities centers around these traits.

College Years and Setbacks

Both twins attended Princeton, facing a significant setback with the terminal illness of their father during their freshman year. Despite the challenges, Danielle and Leah found strength in each other and turned adversity into resilience.

Reflecting on this period, they highlighted how it influenced their approach to setbacks in the startup journey.

As Leah says, one can curse the darkness or light a candle, and the sisters decided to look on the bright side and focus on the things that brought life, energy, and fulfillment to their lives.

Ultimately, the twins graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, which is one of the most renowned institutions out there.

Early Career and Separate Paths

After college, Danielle and Leah landed at Goldman Sachs but pursued different paths within the institution. Leah’s experience at Symphony exposed her to the venture world, while Danielle’s time at Goldman laid a foundation for her future entrepreneurial endeavors.

Leah talks about her stint at Symphony Financial Partners, where she learned a lot while working with David Baran, the CEO. Leah and Danielle had a digital payments and receipts point of sale startup in college and wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial journey, which was their first experience.

However, working at Symphony gave Leah insights into how venture capital works and how management companies get evaluated. She also learned how to grow a company, the essential metrics, and other details.

Most importantly, Leah learned the mechanics and operations of how a startup scales. How to go from pre-$0 of funding to scaling up to several hundred employees and tens of millions in revenue within a short time.

She credits her job with developing an understanding of life as an entrepreneur by working on the investing and operating side.

Danielle also talks about working at Goldman Sachs in around 2014 and being surrounded by exceptional people who gave her a great foundation to think about commercially driven opportunities.

Since Danielle has done a makeup artistry course in college as a side hustle, she was interested in the beauty industry combined with the payments side.

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The Genesis of GlossGenius

Inspired by a shared entrepreneurial spirit from their college days, Danielle ventured into creating GlossGenius, a beauty payments software company. Building this venture was about pursuing her passion and being fearless about it.

Leah, always close to the project, joined before the scaling phase, witnessing the progress and envisioning a future where the platform could empower self-care entrepreneurs.

As Danielle explains, they make software and payment solutions for self-care businesses like salons, spas, and studios.

Essentially, GlossGenius helps them manage and grow their operations, including all the necessary features such businesses need. For instance, online presence management, client relationship management, payments, booking, marketing, and more.

As Danielle points out, the most crucial challenge such businesses face is that they use workflows that are disconnected.

Business owners tend to lose a bunch of information and productivity, and it restrains them from growing, bringing everything together, and adding more automation. That’s where GlossGenius comes in.

Bootstrapping and Demonstrating Unit Economics

During the early days, GlossGenius operated on a bootstrap model. The twins emphasized the importance of demonstrating solid unit economics, focusing on both qualitative customer success and quantitative metrics such as customer acquisition costs.

Positive unit economics from the outset set the stage for sustainable growth. Leah explains that they started out with qualitative validation. They had great numbers and early qualitative demonstrations, but they decided they needed to evangelize the product in meaningful ways.

Getting positive feedback from customers about how the software helped with their business management and getting new talents got the sisters qualitative slivers of validation in increasing amounts. Users were able to save time from manual operations to scale their business.

The platform helped them get many more appointments, acquire clientele, and deliver value. It was also demonstrating healthy metrics and the economics of that acquisition.

When planning their next wave of growth, they looked for the qualitative data points aired with quantitative data points that supported customer success with the platform.

The focus is on creating a product that can stand by itself and could get the business in a better place sooner. The twins were able to achieve a lot of capital efficiency and fundamentally do a much better job reinvesting back into customers at a much more efficient pace.

Venture Capital Journey

With close to $75M raised to date, GlossGenius decided to activate the venture capital path in late 2020. The twins expressed gratitude for the support, acknowledging that venture capital accelerated their scaling process.

They emphasized the significance of having a strong foundation before pursuing venture capital.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Danielle and Leah Choen-Shohet were able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Danielle reveals that by the time they raised their first institutional round, the company had already had pretty meaningful traction. They were able to pursue venture capital to not only scale the company but also follow up with AI capabilities.

Vision for GlossGenius

The long-term vision for GlossGenius is to be a platform accessible to anyone in the self-care industry, enabling entrepreneurs to run and grow their businesses successfully.

The platform aims to provide comprehensive functionality, support, and partnership for entrepreneurs in the beauty and self-care space.

Danielle calls the platform a gateway for entrepreneurship with a few buttons. The duo is building the best software and payment technology. And putting it into the hands of anyone who wants to scale a business and succeed by doing things that they really love.

Adapting and Scaling

As GlossGenius continues to grow, the twins highlighted the importance of adapting to new challenges. They emphasized the need to anchor growth strategies in the long-term vision while staying attuned to the evolving needs of customers and the changing landscape of the industry.

Danielle talks about leading the chart when it comes to product and engineering. They believe in listening to customers, adapting, and changing to maintain the ideal product-market fit. She also reveals how their customers have pulled them into new areas and new industries as well.

The duo maintains open communication channels with customers, talking to them, interviewing them, and stalking the customer experience channel. The objective is to keep their finger on the pulse of how other people are solving problems for them.

They also work on understanding customer challenges and observing things that they might not be sharing directly. Leah calls it an obsession with understanding and solving customer needs.

Words of Wisdom

In conclusion, Danielle and Leah shared valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Danielle emphasized the importance of being obsessed with customers, listening, and harnessing intuition.

Leah encouraged founders to stay focused on the longer term, emphasizing the significance of maintaining a broader perspective amidst the ups and downs of the startup journey.

The journey of Danielle and Leah Cohen-Shohet is a testament to resilience, vision, and the power of collaboration, showcasing how childhood lessons, setbacks, and unwavering determination can lead to the creation of a successful and impactful venture like GlossGenius.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • 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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Neil Patel

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