The difficulties of running a user generated content platform is well documented but what if you add another layer of difficulty in the form of reviews.
Esther Leloux, Julie Hotchkin, and Quint Mouthaan are not only showing what’s possible with such a combo but also how to make it work.
Their startup, We Are Eves, wants to be the most trusted community driven e-commerce platform in the beauty industry and with €6.5M in funding so far, they are also on a mission to make the beauty industry more transparent.
A platform of the community
If you are wondering if the name of this startup has anything to do with Eve, the first woman, then you would be right.
When they started in 2019, Esther Leloux, co-founder and CEO of We Are Eves, says they were looking for a name that represented the voice of all females.
While they stumbled upon the idea of calling it Eve, they also realised that their platform represented not a single individual but a community.
Thus, We Are Eves, was born as a beauty platform and Leloux says, “the platform is not ours, it’s actually owned by our community.”
On the platform, We Are Eves members write honest reviews about any beauty product in the world.
This is in stark contrast to influencers and brand ambassadors that have come to dominate the fashion industry.
On We Are Eves, its members first use all kinds of personal care products and then they write reviews about it. They also have the option to add photos or videos.
The idea may draw immediate comparison to the fact that shoppers on Amazon also write reviews on the platform.
We Are Eves is different because the platform does not stop at reviews. It also classifies those reviews based on a star rating and further distils them based on a beauty profile.
Leloux gives an example of a product being rated highly by people with curls but getting lower rating from people with straight hair.
We Are Eves uses this data to personalise all the reviews to its member base, which in turn helps them find the right product.
“Our members just love helping others with their experiences and personal beauty knowledge,” she further explains.
Trust and Shelfie
On We Are Eves, each member gets their own personal online shelf called Shelfie, where they can place all of their favourite products.
This shelfie, Leloux explains, also acts as the detailed user account combining a lot of data of these members.
The data includes type of hair, hair colour, issues with hair, skin type, skincare, bodycare, nails, etc.
This is not a prerequisite on the platform but members have found that sharing more personal details like their preferred vegan toothpaste or favourite eye palette has helped them find the right product easily.
On top of that personal online shelf lies a trusted policy that monitors the hygiene of reviews on the platform.
In addition to checking whether the accounts are real, the trust policy also monitors behavioural data.
To ensure the reviews stay honest on the platform, Leloux adds that they “closely monitor the behaviour of their community.”
On We Are Eves, a good behaviour offering value and credible view is incentivised but people trying to write a review for a product they plan to promote does not get traction.
“It only works when there’s a volume and the volume determines the star rating and also determines the credibility,” she explains.
Scaling the product
At the time of writing, We Are Eves has over 110,000 members and approximately 350,000 reviews and conversations on the platform.
As a B2B platform, it helps brands to increase conversion in the entire product journey using these reviews and credible content.
We Are Eves works with partners to have their reviews on the platform, helping them with visibility and generate views, clicks and purchases for their products.
“Our partners can also integrate the reviews on their own web shops, or on etailer web shops, and we know that if you have highly credible and valuable content in a webshop, then the conversion rate will go up,” says Leloux.
She adds that they have seen up to 400 per cent increase in conversion for web shops with the help of We Are Eves reviews.
While We Are Eves is active in France, Germany, and the Benelux region, the Dutch startup is now focusing on scaling in international markets.
Earlier this month, We Are Eves raised €2.5M in seed funding from Airbridge Equity Partners, bringing its total raised to €6.5M.
One of the target markets for We Are Eves is the UK. Leloux adds the UK is an advanced e-com market and also a strong beauty market. “Beauty is bigger in the UK than in any other country in Europe,” she explains.
Leloux says Air Bridge Capital has a lot of e-commerce knowledge, which will be valuable to its expansion plans.
We Are Eves doesn’t want to stop there and Leloux says they plan to go for Series A in one to one and a half years.
The Lipstick Effect
While Germany is already in recession and other European countries are staring at possible recession, the economic downturn weighs heavily on every entrepreneur’s mind.
For Amsterdam-based We Are Eves and other companies in the beauty industry, it is a luxurious problem to have.
Called the lipstick effect, the beauty industry has historically defied economic downturn to not only stay resilient but have also seen growth during this period.
Leloux says, “We’re really happy to be in the beauty industry, because the beauty industry has been very resilient towards recessions.”
She adds, “People will keep on buying luxuries, cosmetics, or small gifts to themselves, like a perfume or lipstick or special skincare, etc.”
We Are Eves also helps people to waste less on bad buys and save money. She says people generally buy five products before finding the one that suits their needs.
By creating a platform that matches people based on their needs, she says We Are Eves can not only improve the user journey but also eliminate waste.
“80 per cent of our members say they waste less on beauty products thanks to the reviews in We Are Eves,” adds Leloux.
Challenges, AI and the road ahead
While the economic downturn will remain a challenge and concern, Leloux sees finding the right people to be an even bigger challenge.
Another challenge, Leloux reckons, will be bridging the gulf in funding between the Dutch startup ecosystem and the European startup landscape.
The Series A funding raised by most Dutch startups is often the seed funding in the UK and other EU countries, which can lead to valuation and captable challenges.
When asked about AI, Leloux says We Are Eves is in first phase with AI but wants to have a more advanced implementation.
“Obviously, we’re working towards a more advanced launch of AI on the platform,” she says.
However, she dismisses the idea of using generative AI to plug any gap in user reviews on the platform.
She says people are writing extensive reviews on the platform that they don’t see generative AI augmenting or supporting this work.
But she does see generative AI being used to offer its users the exact right products and the right reviews based on their search request.
For Leloux, the clear focus remains on reviews that bring the community together and help people find the right product.
“I think we have a very important role in the beauty industry,” she says, adding, “because it’s up to us to make the beauty industry more transparent.”
She says the role of We Are Eves is to be the most transparent beauty platform and one where people feel the power to share what the products are really delivering.