Waldo in the UKDespite choosing to set her business up in the UK, Hinde believes US consumers are more likely to take a risk on a new product. This means she’s had to put a lot of effort into making sure the brand she is building is trustworthy. “We have endorsements from highly-regarded people in the medical industry, and have all the checks and balances in place to make the customer feel they are trying a high-quality product,” she added. Taking on big pharmaceutical brands is an intimidating prospect, and one many have tried and failed to do. The biggest advantage for Waldo, Hinde explained, is its touch points with customers – something the likes of Johnson & Johnson can only dream of. “These big pharmaceutical brands have very little say in the customer experience as that’s done through an online vendor, high street chain or third party. Being online and able to use all the different tools that online businesses do means we can learn fast using customer feedback.” For Hinde and Waldo to get this far, investment has been a must. Backing of £600,000, from investors including Nigel Ray, Richard Golding and JXC Ventures, has been secured – allowing the business to invest in its online infrastructure and finance the marketing necessary to attract early customers. On the subject of venture backing, Hinde had some useful advice for fellow business builders going through the process. “There are quite a lot of soft skills that tend not to get spoken about here. Things like learning the jargon, which is the reason why I studied finance [at Harvard] last year. “It’s hard to sit in meetings with investors when you don’t know about pre or post-money valuations, or shares, or about how to value your business. That can put entrepreneurs at a disadvantage. People can get scared by jargon, but it’s not hard to understand.” To get her slice of a £290m market, Hinde is investing heavily in PR, social media and the online user experience. She wants to get as many people clicking to the Waldo site, and then make sure it is very easy to sign up once they do arrive there. “One of the things that will be a learning opportunity for us is finding out how to target consumers that wear lenses, as it’s not a product for everyone. Waldo is bringing in people who are specialised at that, and we have been working very closely with the team at Simba [a UK mattress brand] who are strong technically with ecommerce and engaging customers.” One growth tool Hinde is keen to exploit is word of mouth. While not everyone wears lenses, there’s a pretty good chance they know someone who does. She also cited the recent story of a women in a West Midland’s hospital being admitted with 27 lenses they didn’t know where in their eye as evidence that everyone knows a horror story about contact lenses. Hinde knows she has a bit battle ahead of her, one which will involve convincing a large amount of people to change the way they browse and purchase a very particular product. However, as the lives of consumers becomes increasingly digitised, and the expectation that most services should be supplied online, Waldo has an opportunity to remove pain points such as the up-selling opticians often do or the lack of customer service provided by major pharmaceuticals.
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