Start-Up Series Winner: Five Dot Botanics

Company: Five Dot Botanics

Description: High performance, semi premium, skincare – bang on trend, with only five ingredients in each product, minimal & sustainable packaging and a gender-neutral brand and target audience.

Founders: Zaffrin & Brian O’Sullivan


Can you tell me a bit about your business background?

Zaffrin – I am a TV lawyer by background. I have spent most of my career advising companies on how to make money from their intellectual property. I have always wanted to build a brand.

Brian – I trained as a scientist but moved to finance a long time ago, however I always thought I would be around innovation.

Where did the idea for the business come from? Was there a moment or experience that made you feel a need for it?

The idea for the business was inspired by the growing movement for clarity and transparency over the ingredients we consume or use in the products we buy. We started to look into our personal cosmetics and we were confused by the complexity and sheer number of ingredients listed in each product. The beauty industry hasn’t needed to address this in the past, however transparency in beauty is on the rise and the best way to offer consumers transparency, clarity and control, is minimal ingredients. We could see this category was underserved and our aim is challenge the status quo to offer consumers a real choice about what goes on their skin.

What is the business’ USP?

We are a skincare disruptor. Our USP is that we innovate and make high performance skincare using only five ingredients in each product. This is a departure from the market norm in the beauty industry where consumers face 20, 30 or 40 ingredients in a product. Consumers now demand transparency over the ingredients they put on their skin and it is very difficult for traditional beauty businesses to do. The clean beauty and natural skincare space is growing and “minimalist skincare” is the next frontier. Five Dot Botanics is at the forefront of pioneering this niche.

What has your experience with raising funding been like in the past? Had you ever tried to raise funding for this business (or another business) before entering the Start-Up Series?

Our only experience of fund raising outside of the Start-Up Series was as finalists in a plant based investment competition, it was a bit like Dragons Den for vegans.  We had previously applied to the Start-Up Series and were unsuccessful, but we hadn’t launched the brand and didn’t have any traction to show at that point.

Why did you enter the Start-Up Series competition?

We entered the Start-Up Series competition to raise funds to enable us to scale our business. Manufacturing products is tricky and we needed to ensure we had enough cash to cover that as well as customer acquisition.

How did you find the ‘deep dive’ with Worth Capital?

The deep dive was a brilliant experience and incredibly valuable. It was an expansive conversation as well as detailed questions about our business.  We came away with a whole notebook filled with questions, thoughts and ideas. The deep dive was about understanding our business as well as stretch testing our assumptions. It was a constructive and thoughtful discussion filled with a lot of curiosity, intellectual rigour and empathy.

How do you feel about winning the competition?

It’s been an incredible high to know we have secured the funds for the next phase of our business, we have ambitious plans so winning this competition will be critical to our business success.

A lot of businesses entered – what do you think made your business stand out and win?

The timing for Five Dot Botanics is right. The indie beauty market is huge and still growing, especially in the clean beauty and minimal skincare space.

We think that our branding helped us to stand out as well as our innovative high performance products. We also had evidence of traction, repeat sales and retailer interest. I think having ambitious plans for growth was also a factor.

What stage is the business at currently?

We are 6 months in, we have had good direct to consumer sales and we are starting to see a nice trend of repeat purchases. We have won our first beauty industry award for our innovative eye serum. We have a number of retailers in place (more are interested) and we are now about to start marketing our brand in earnest.  We have some exciting plans ahead.

What do you plan to use the Start-Up Series investment for?

Manufacturing and marketing.

Finally, what’s your ultimate vision for the business?

To disrupt the status quo in beauty, offer radical transparency and become the leading minimalist skincare brand globally.

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