How Revieve is Transforming the Beauty Industry with Sampo Parkinnen (Founder & CEO)

Mar 15

5 min

The concept of beauty has traditionally been associated with outer appearance. However, this concept is shifting towards a more holistic definition in which beauty, health, and wellness converge. Revieve is leading this shift.

Revieve has built a technology platform to enable beauty, skin health and wellness brands and retailers to provide a personalized customer experience across different digital channels.

Founded in 2016, this company transforms how consumers discover, choose and evaluate beauty products online and in-store by offering beauty brands and retailers selfie-driven personalization technology.

Using advanced AI algorithms and computer vision technology, brands can build and activate customer profiles, allowing them to effectively manage and sync all the data from multiple sources and transform them into actionable insights for instant personalization in real-time. Revieve’s Digital Health-Beauty-Wellness Platform helps shoppers find proper skincare, makeup, haircare, nutrition and suncare products with the snap of a selfie.

With headquarters in Chicago and Helsinki, Revieve has grown to around 75 employees from 25 different nationalities and serves brands or retailers across five continents. We're proud to have joined Revieve on their journey, elevating brand experience in the beauty industry.

Our conversation with Sampo Parkkinen, CEO and Founder of Revieve, delved into his journey as an entrepreneur and his ambitious vision for the company.

What led you to found Revieve?

At Revieve, we have the same founding team that RapidBlue Solutions, the previous technology company we founded. RapidBlue was acquired by a Chicago-based company called ShopperTrak, back in 2013. After that, I moved to Chicago.

Once there, I began having some skin issues. My wife told me to go to the dermatologist, and after refusing to go for about nine months, I eventually went. I asked myself: "Why can't there just be a solution that tells me what I need to do and which products do I need to buy?"

I figured out that most people who go into a beauty store just buy what the beauty consultant recommends. Just a tiny percentage of people do research before buying. If in-store beauty consultants play such a significant role for most people, how are brands and retailers selling these products across digital channels?

Then I realized that many retailers have given up on e-commerce because they couldn't deliver the customer experience. They couldn't provide a personal brand experience to the consumer as the in-beauty consultant does. I realized this was an opportunity.

"We’re moving from a transaction-centric business model into a relationship-driven business model. You have to build a long-term relationship with the consumer and serve the consumer across their entire journey."

Would you say Revieve is an AR company?

There's a fundamental shift that's going to happen: we're moving from a transaction-centric business model into a relationship-driven business model. Therefore, to compete as a retailer or brand, you must build a long-term relationship with the consumer. That means that you need to serve the consumer across their entire journey, and brands need a solution that enables them to push that whole journey.

We even told some of our early prospects that if they want the world's best Augmented Reality, that's not us, and it's never going to be us. But if they're going to personalize the entire customer journey and build a relationship with the consumer instead of just being a transactional point of purchase, we should talk. In the beginning, it was tough because everyone was obsessed with the virtual try-on. Still, after some time, people started realizing the importance of leveraging technology to build customer relationships.

Revieve delivers personalized digital brand experiences powered by AI/AR.

What is the upside for your customers?

We have a background in retail technology, so we understand that we need to generate tangible value for the customer. And actually, we've been generating impressive results. We have brands and retailers generating an increase in conversion results from 50% to 75% and an increase between 20% and 30% in Average Transaction Size.

Additionally, we can provide brands and retailers with zero- and first-party data. Thanks to Revieve, they can get personal information about their customers, such as information about their faces and their concerns. This data would be hard to obtain otherwise, and it goes way beyond information such as purchasing intent or browsing history.

Another upside is that we help the brand or retailer position as an expert. By using Revieve, they can provide digital consulting and expertise that positions them in the consumer's mind.

Fast forward five or ten years from now. What can Revieve ultimately become?

I think we're still very, very early. For many brands and retailers that we talk to, it's the first time they are doing anything to personalize the brand experience. They're just dipping their toes.

We think that the future competitive advantage for brands and retailers will come from the experience you create. For that, you will need a platform where brands and retailers build that experience that integrates with your CRM and take the consumer data and third-party sources onto that platform. That's our mission, and we firmly believe that we will eventually become that platform.

What challenges did you face as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges you face as you scale your company is removing yourself from an operational execution-type role. You get to the stage where you're directing people who are not executing either. You have to ingrain how you think into their minds because they have to convey to their teams the same that you are saying. That is a tough transition to make as an entrepreneur. You get to a point where you don't interact with half the company most of the time. It's a mindset shift that requires you to think about things differently.

Another harsh lesson is to strike the right balance. On the one hand, you can't go from 100% operational to 0%. You have to figure out when to give your opinion and when you need to let others decide. You also need a leadership team that feels empowered and can make decisions.

The Beauty Advisor helps shoppers find proper skincare and makeup products with the help of the shoppers' selfies.

What can we expect from Revieve in the next 12 months?

Two things that are always heavily directed by founders early on are GTM and product. Therefore, one of the things we are doing right now is making sure that we have a sales engine running on all cylinders. In SaaS, once you've transitioned from founder-led sales into having a machine, you already have the formula. The following steps are about adding new roles and teams. We also need to ensure that the same thing happens in our product development. Those are the most challenging things to transition.

Which entrepreneur do you admire or look up to?

I'd say Ben Horowitz. I've read both of his books. Every company goes through these types of near-death experiences (We had some with RapidBlue and Revieve). I think Ben went through an excessive amount of those near-death experiences during his time as a CEO. Besides, he's one of the few people who's both been able to be peacetime CEO and a wartime CEO. Those are two very, very different skill sets.

If we travel to Finland, what should we do while there?

It depends on when you come to Finland. In winter, you should go ice swimming. You should also go to our saunas, independently of the time. We're famous for our saunas.

Any book that you would recommend?

From Ben Horowitz, many people know of The Hard Thing About Hard Things, but his second book, What Got you Here that Won't Get You There, really talks about company culture, and I found it fascinating.

I'm also a big fan of From Zero to One. One more book I would recommend is Amp it Up, from the CEO of Snowflake. It talks about how you create productivity and focus as a founder.

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