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Updated 28 Sep 2020

GoBeauty founder on why it takes a lot of nerve to be an innovator

How GoBeauty founder learnt that innovation is driven by courage.

Monique Verduyn, 19 February 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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In 2014, Tatjana Mihajlov-Pilbeam developed an innovative new app that lets consumers book beauty treatments anywhere in South Africa.

Hosted by WeChat, users can search for the closest beauty services and spas in their area, compare prices, and find out more about the latest beauty deals. 

Related: How creator of the GoBeauty app successfully ran the start-up gauntlet

How did you come up with this innovation?

Technology is changing how we manage every aspect of our lives. In the beauty industry, there was a gap for a service that made it easy and convenient for people to search for the treatment of their choice and book directly with the spa or salon. This is important because the app is not just a search tool; it also offers booking functionality.

Many of these venues are small businesses, and I knew the app would offer huge, previously untapped marketing potential for the business owners too. My goal was to help engage consumers in a new way.

Why do you believe “mental fitness” is key to innovation?

I think mental fitness training is more important at first than determining your business processes. The turnaround in the business came when I started shaping my own mental attitude for achieving success.

Picking small and achievable goals along the way were the stepping stones to achieving objectives and fuelling my confidence – and the business responded.

When you launch an innovative service, you cannot let doubts, fears and over-analysis get in your way. Rather think of the reasons why it will work and what drove you to start it in the first place. It is attitude and mind-set that determine the level of success you achieve, not intelligence, education or circumstances.

What was one of your early lessons about successful innovation?

Go Beauty -app

We found that launching the app in isolation was a mistake. Consumers needed to get to know the brand first, who we were, what GoBeauty was all about and why we had developed it.

Launching an app is one thing; clearly communicating your business purpose to your audience is essential though – and that is how we eventually created a loyal customer following.

What were some of the key stepping stones to successful innovation?

The first was when we agreed to integrate with the software systems that salons and spas use – that makes us far more accessible to the salons and makes it simple and convenient for them too, while also improving the experience for our users.

The next one came when we moved to the WeChat platform. On WeChat we quickly grew the business as it was an existing application, with an existing audience, and made GoBeauty immediately available to all smartphones.

With the GoBeauty account on WeChat, we used existing technology to bring our customers the best mobile beauty and wellness experience instead of being distracted by trying to create our own technology.

What is your advice on creating innovative apps?

First, determine does the app makes business sense. In our case, the benefit of offering customers 24/7 service was a no-brainer.

Related: Seven lessons in growing a big brand from The Body Shop

It also makes sense to provide a fun and productive mobile experience. Our service is not just about selling stuff – it offers ease of use and convenience, which is one of the number one demands made by consumers today.

If you want to do something other than simply sell, it’s important to build a community of users and, in our case, service providers around your brand. Our app offers accessibility for consumers, and is also a business support tool for the salons and spas we represent. It’s important to define what success means for your app.  

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Monique Verduyn

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