Welcome to this week’s installment of the Startup of the Week series. We interviewed Dr. Roman Panin, founder of EstSet, an online marketplace that enables cosmeticians to sell carefully selected skincare products to their consumers via social media.
EstSet hosts a variety of skincare products that cosmeticians can choose to endorse and then promote to clients via social media. When a client has decided to purchase products approved by their favorite beauticians, EstSet provides logistical support to ensure that products reach customers in a timely manner. To hear from Roman directly, we encourage you to check out the pitch he gave during our fourth edition of the Beauty Tech Pitch Night. Start watching the recording from 6.30 until 15.00.
In this piece, we learn about what inspired Dr. Panin to become an entrepreneur and founder of EstSet as well as the joys and challenges of being an entrepreneur.
A Dynamic Husband and Wife Team Revolutionizing the Cosmetics Industry in Europe
The idea for EstSet came from Roman’s wife, Irina, who has been working for 15 years in the aesthetic industry. As someone with extensive experience in the sector, she understood that beauticians have traditionally been limited by their employers in the products they can promote. Irina saw this as a fundamental deficit in the industry.
With the advent of social media though, some cosmeticians are deciding to become their own bosses and advocate for brands they truly believe in via social media. In doing so, they are able to cultivate direct and authentic relationships with their clients through social media, thereby creating a loyal customer base. Roman and Irina saw an opportunity in this shift away from the limiting, in-store cosmetics purchasing experience.
Their goal for EstSet is twofold. The first one is to give cosmetics companies access to Beauticians with a solid social media presence through EstSet. The second one is to allow Beauticians to focus entirely on selecting and promoting products on their platform by managing the back-end, logistical work. All three stakeholders (cosmetics companies, beauticians, and EstSet) benefit from this relationship, effectively sharing distributor costs and reaching out directly to end customers.
In creating EstSet, Roman needed to not only follow his wife’s advice but also apply this extensive background in business to bring this vision to fruition.
Advice for Entrepreneurs: Learn How to Navigate Uncertainty
Roman, who holds both a MBA and PhD, is a life-long entrepreneur. He successfully launched his first commercial project in 2009 and was able to exit that venture in 2017. This initial experience instilled within him a passion for founding businesses. He enjoys both the freedom and limitless creativity being his own best advocate and boss has added to his professional life.
Despite enjoying his work, Dr. Panin candidly describes the pressure that comes with starting a passion project from scratch. He says, “The most challenging part of startup management is to make decisions. Generally speaking it´ s the main job of an entrepreneur to make decisions. You should be ready and aware that many of your decisions are and will be wrong but you should accept it as a part of the game.” His advice for fellow entrepreneurs who are learning to be their own bosses is to learn how they personally navigate the stresses that come with uncertainty and build skills that allow them to quickly respond to errors.
For example, Roman started EstSet without a background in the investment space. He had to learn how to fundraise from both his successes and the challenges. Ultimately, he says that while learning this skill on his own was difficult, he learned how to form his experience, and you can too.
Most importantly the rewards of finally getting it right as a startup founder is immeasurable. He says, “ A startup is like your kid. You bring it up and grow with it at the same time and if you see that you are doing the right things and bring value to your customers and solve their problems, you receive a high level of motivation and satisfaction.” In other words, being a successful entrepreneur is not only about recognizing an opportunity at the right time, but also giving yourself room to grow alongside your business and also not being overwhelmed by uncertainty. Be open to evolving as your company evolves.