This week on FEW Members' Corner, we would like to introduce you to Iella Koblenz, Founder of BloomMe, Hong Kong's leading spa and beauty booking app.
Hello Iella, tell us more about your entrepreneurial journey.
My name is Iella Koblenz. I'm originally from Germany, Berlin, and I moved to Hong Kong 5 years ago. For founding a tech start up my educational background is not necessarily a blueprint, having studied biology and science of religion. Yet, when the idea for BloomMe came along, it was clear to me that that's what I want to do and with learning by doing, dedication and the mindset that "stumbling" just means to get up again and keep going, BloomMe is Hong Kong's market leading beauty booking app! What the BloomMe app does is connecting consumer and beauty vendors in real time to book beauty treatments such as manicure, facials and massages instantly up to the last minute. We have over 1,700 partner spas and salons on our platform, growing our database every day. Our BloomMe users leave reviews in the app and we have a lot of treatment information on display to make the booking process as convenient as possible. At the end of the day, all that’s left to do for our users is enjoying their spa session - and book again ;) !
What inspired you to start BloomMe?
The idea for BloomMe came from my own frustration in not being able to conveniently find good quality and good value spas and salons. Being new to a city such as Hong Kong usually leaves you clueless as to where to go, other than the obvious and often super-expensive, hotel spas. I thought it would be a great idea to gather all high-quality spas, including all the hidden gems this city has, together in one app, whilst also making booking easy, safe and convenient. With BloomMe you have a fast and user-friendly booking process, the ability to instantly know time availabilities of treatments, their prices and being able to book instantly. All of this topped by amazing discounts of up to 30% off which are on offer every day.
So far, what's the most challenging part of your journey?
Going to do Yoga on a regular basis and eating healthy….Joke aside (not a joke though), an initial but also continuous challenge you face as an entrepreneur is recruiting the right team. Means, a team that consists of likeminded people who are willing to make your dream their dream and are ready to, so to speak, conquer the world with you. Luckily, I have a team that not only consists of experts of their professions but also have an entrepreneurial mindset that allows the company to thrive.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
The biggest challenge from a company perspective was to get our first round of funding. Not having a tech track record meant that we had to prove our case and get some traction first. We ran into some sand traps along the way but obviously all worked out and today we’re just about to raise series A.
On growing teams
The most obvious but also most “mysterious” tip in some way is: believe in your dream. For me, this meant to “keep going”, even if you sometimes stumble. It means, you get up the next morning and do what you know worked the day before, whilst also fixing the mistakes you made yesterday by being open-minded to compromise to reach your desired result, eventually. I would also suggest that you should include your team members, get as much input as possible and be fierce to make a decision to manoeuvre through tough times.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Idea, Money, Team. In that order.
What does success mean to you?
BloomMe allowed me to become a better version of myself. I learn something new every day, that continuously drives me forward. A major milestone for the company is our expansion to Taiwan right now and expanding our influence in this region. We’re also exploring to collaborate with skin care brands much more this year as we share the same target audience and naturally have a synergy here. Three word that would describe me: Undaunted. Driven. Happy.