Indé Wild Founder Diipa Büller-Khosla. From influencer to entrepreneur, how to get it done?
Becoming a founder requires time, resources, expertise and a high level of technical skills to develop and launch a brand but even more to sustain the brand’s presence. Shimmers asked her tao elaborate on the checklist she believes is required to launch a successful brand as an influencer.
Who is Diipa Büller-Khosla?
Diipa Khosla is a fashion and beauty influencer born and raised in a small hill town in India before moving to the Netherlands when she was 17. She has successfully developed just over 4 years a community of 1.6 million followers among Indians but also the wide groups of expats around Europe. One of Diipa’s main focuses in life is female empowerment: she successfully developed her foundation “Post For Change'', has given several speeches, visited war torn countries and worked closely with the UN & other NGOs to help women all over the world. She has very recently started reshaping the world of beauty with Indé Wild, her new skincare brand inspired by the Aryuvedic medicine.
1. Be ready to be truly committed
“What was important for me was to be a real entrepreneur, not only an art director giving my opinion on a few items,” says Diipa. “The idea of launching a brand was already there since I can remember”, but it came to life when operators approached her with a contract that did not give her hands. Being an entrepreneur is also being involved in the project, otherwise it remains an influencer or ambassador job. “And it was very important for me to be part owner” insists Diipa.
2. Assess your strength and weaknesses before getting started
“We assessed what our strengths were and where we needed experts'' Her community and deep knowledge of social media was undoubtedly the biggest strength she had. “The audience is such a powerful thing, starting with 10 000 email contacts is already huge. But we needed experts, and we needed financing” highlights Diipa.
“For the pre-seed round, the promise of me and my audience allowed us to raise 1.2m already.”
Diipa was also lucky to have her husband with good experience in operation, but also her right hand girl expert in content creation and editing to build the core team. Still, important assets were missing, product development and brand development expertise but also go-to-market teams: “For growth hacking we absolutely needed an ecom genius”.
3. Audience is not enough, you need a brand narrative
Diipa built the brand around her story, authentic, simple and therefore powerful:
“The idea needed to be a celebration of where I was coming from: My mother was a dermatologist and Ayurvedic doctor, this story of Indé Wild was just natural”.
In the age of many direct to consumer brands, digging into each little detail on the brand story, product promises and how it relates to the founder is a must for every consumer. They want to make sure that everything is absolutely legit. If the brand looks like a quick fix cash machine, it just won’t last long.
4. Include your community to make the right decisions
“ideas were always there, but followers are your trump card, you need to involve them in the process to fine-tune your project”
“Beauty was very top down, today is upside down, just ask your audience, and create something for them, with the most honesty and the best story” says Diipa. “I did 4 focus groups on 4 continents to get rich data at almost no cost, just harvesting the power of the community!”
5. Partner with experts
Diipa made the right choices by “partnering with expert influencers to support the project.” It can be a Dermatologist that will help you build the perfect formulas, or bring the level of science required to not rely only on “being a pretty girl” , highlights Diipa.
“You also need to go beyond your online community, meeting with journalists, meeting with retailers, with local partners” to help you shape the right strategy to fill up the white spaces left by other players on the market.
6. A clean and honest copy is important
In the beauty world where all brands claim clean and safe beauty, it is increasingly important to separate those who take it seriously from those who play with marketing. Diipa confirms “The Indé Wild brand is very transparent, every ingredient is written on the products to educate the customers, there is nothing to hide. All products are vegan, cruelty free and sustainable to the best standards”.
7. Good operations makes it or breaks it
“I had in mind that operations were going to be a bitch”
Diipa had very ambitious plans, but knew operations were going to be the biggest challenge to grow the brand. She discovered that “Founders who are not from the industry don’t know what lays ahead”. The plan was to launch in 3 to 5 countries in the 1st year, but she quickly realized that it was better to build the right client servicing one market at the time. “We want to keep the brand DTC* and keep direct contact with our customers” to make sure the relationship stays strong and the quality of service is up to the standards that Diipa has set for Indé Wild.
*direct to consumer
8. Keep it lean and give enough time for your products to grow
“Indé Wild has been given a good time to settle in with 2 products, with a 34% repurchase rate” mentioned Diipa. She has decided to focus on building strong products before diversifying the range or opening new markets. Following the rule of fewer but bigger gives enough space for each product to find its consumer and gives enough time for the founding team to elaborate the right development strategy for years to come.
9. Get ready to shift your priorities
“I don’t get contracts for skincare brands anymore” highlights Diipa. Some influencers face the risk of losing contracts with leading brands and see their usual revenue stream dip when their brand starts growing in visibility.
“For those who really differentiate their brands from their personal brands, they still get contracts with beauty brands”
The tone of voice and the way the brand is featured on your personal feed can make those newly competitive brands see you as a threat. Nevertheless, Diipa “keeps supporting brands organically” to bring a sense of authenticity required from any content creator.
There are no wrong or right ways to build a successful influencer brand. But a few keys to success to keep on your mind:
1. Don’t think that your audience, reach or an engaged community is enough
2. Have and brand narrative that is absolutely true to yourself and feels natural to tell
3. Find the right experts to help you make the right decisions, but more importantly to learn
4. Harvest the power of your community and work as a team with your followers
5. Honesty is an absolute requirement that you owe to your audience and to your future consumers.
6. Should we add that you cannot do without being sustainable and clean?
7. Operations are a bitch as Diipa said. But don’t neglect this step.
8. Take your time to do things right and with the right experts
9. Get ready to change your business as an influencer
And if Diipa Khosla had something to add:
“If I were to say something to my younger self, I would say: keep learning”