With the recent announcement of the Brandery class of 2016, we are excited to feature each company in its own blog post! Each day we’ll post a new blog highlighting one of the startups in this year’s cohort. As we are officially two months out from Demo Day, get to know the names and faces behind the company!
Today we’ll be highlighting Scent Trunk, our team from the north.
Pictured (left to right): CEO, William Yin; COO, Richard Smale
What does your company do?
Our sense of smell is most closely linked to our emotions which is why fragrances are a very emotional product. But right now, the fragrance-buying experience is overwhelming, inconvenient and impersonal. Scent Trunk is a direct to consumer personalized fragrance subscription. We’ve built technology which can figure out what people like to smell, then we match them with our best fragrances. We’ve also cut out all the middle-men and make the fragrances ourselves. That means we can use higher quality ingredients and offer unique fragrances at a fraction of the price.
What attracted you to apply to the Brandery?
Cincinnati. No just joking (although we’ve grown to really enjoy the city). We felt the Brandery was a strong compliment to our weaknesses. We are a bunch of engineers and we needed help with the branding and creative parts of the business. We also have heard great things about how close the cohorts are each year because they are small. This means that the mentors can really spend a lot of time to understand the businesses they are helping.
How did the team come together?
Rich and I were friends since first year at Queen’s University. I think it’s called freshman year here in the US? Yeah, we’re Canadian eh!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned at the Brandery, so far?
We learned about the importance of branding and creative when it comes to marketing. As engineers we’ve always taken an approach to marketing that was very calculated, but we’ve learned that the biggest marketing wins come from strong story-telling. We’ve learned that marketing success comes from a good compliment of branding/creative and engineering/automation. I think that since we’ve learned this we are testing our marketing and making improvements much quicker than we were before. Really exciting!
What do you like the most about Cincinnati?
The Reds, no just kidding. We really like how the community is very supportive of startups. There are a lot of resources that we can access for expertise and it makes growing our business a lot easier.
Did you have an “aha!” moment?
Yes! We’ve been up and running for about 15 months now and we’ve gathered a decent amount of customer data. After analyzing it we realized that even though the world of fragrance is really complicated, we could simplify it quite significantly. There were 6 attributes that were very polarizing (meaning people would love or hate them). We ended up finding out that if we can figure out how people responded to these 6 attributes, we’d have a really good idea of what they like to smell, to a higher degree of accuracy compared to when we just did an online onboarding survey.
This was the inspiration behind our new free-trial model where everyone will get a “fitting kit”. It’s similar to the Warby Parker home try-on program where you get to actually try some scents. Based on what you like/dislike, we’ll be able to make a very personalized fragrance recommendation for you!
The pictures used this blog post were captured by Zackariah Cole, visit his website at http://www.zackariahcole.com/.