When hunting for a quality spot for a mani/pedi or top-rated hair stylist to give you that platinum dye job you’ve been lusting after, your sources are pretty limited. As in: Yelp, or good old fashioned word of mouth. It’s a conundrum MIT alum Sophia Lin noticed during her travels. What if, she wondered, there was a beauty app that combined a Yelp-like listing of salons, a Pinterest-esque trend wall and the social connection capabilities of Instagram? Last year, Lin began refining the idea for Pamperologist, which would allow users to easily share and discover their beauty experiences, from facials to blowouts. And now, having tested it out overseas, she’s back in Boston for a bigger launch.
Just this month, Pamperologist kicked off a private beta, but the app is coming to both iOS and Android stores in the coming weeks (update: the app has now launched for iOS and Android). And the signup process is pretty simple: The app links to your Facebook account and instantly, you’re in. From there, you can follow friends or local bloggers and stylists—trendsetters who have acquired the most followers and likes—as well as comb through the trending page (which changes in real-time to reflect popular posts). Upload and share your own photos, or search for specific styles by keyword, like #pastel, #highlights or #updo.
Lin, who was born in Taiwan, had been working in investment banking prior to pursuing her MBA at the Sloan School of Management.
“My education at MIT really fueled my entrepreneurial spirit,” she told BostInno. “It has a lot to offer for alum who are serious about developing their startups.”
After graduating from MIT, Lin moved to Singapore for a couple years, and built a small core team for her startup. The app launched there about a year ago, and in just several weeks, Pamperologist climbed to Top 100 in the Lifestyle Category in the city with no marketing efforts and no salon/spa/vendor data on Google. Within a few months, the app racked up about 1,000 downloads across both platforms.
There are three kinds of users who can get the most value out of Pamperologist, according to Lin: consumers searching for a variety of beauty services, trend-savvy beauty bloggers looking to grow their followers, and salon owners/stylists who are seeking to promote their services.
“My education at MIT really fueled my entrepreneurial spirit … It has a lot to offer for alum who are serious about developing their startups.”
But Lin has a slew of new features in the pipeline that could boost the value for all parties.
For one, she says she’s in talks with local salons about forging partnerships for co-promotion. Right now, she says the user experience is a much higher priority than monetization, but eventually, they expect to offer ads for local beauty businesses on the app. The Cambridge-based startup is also kicking around the idea for an in-app booking feature, through which users could seamlessly see a salon’s schedule, communicate with a stylist and make an appointment. Right now, there are four people total working on Pamperologist, and Lin is seeking to add several more in marketing and business development. The startup is also actively looking for advisors from the beauty industry.
And they’re planning to host events at MIT and HBS focused on tech trends in the beauty and fashion realms.
So, what’s next for Pamperologist after Boston? Down the road, the startup aims to expand to New York and elsewhere on the East Coast. But for now, Lin says The Hub is an ideal place to focus on—given the hundreds of thousands of college students rolling and millions of tourists trekking here from around the globe each year. For these individuals unfamiliar with Boston’s beauty scene, Pamperologist hopes to be a helpful resource.
All images via Pamperologist.