Faces Consent: Behind the Business The Insync Insurance Podcast

Please Introduce Yourselves

Ben: So I’m Ben, I’m a co-founder of Faces Consent. My general day-to-day role is Partnerships, search engine optimization and helping work alongside Ashley on the brand.

Ashley: I’m Ash. I’m the other half of the co-founding Faces Consent, and I suppose we kind of do a bit of everything really, Ben and I do, but we just focus probably myself on more the product and the operation of the team and the service that’s provided.

What’s your Background?

Ben: Our recent background is in aesthetics. So before Ashley and I set up clinics, aesthetic clinics for both Botox and Dermal fillers.

So we went around about nine clinics across the UK now, but they still operate today. And from there, we launched Faces off the back of it because everybody at the time when we, it was about five years ago, me and as Ashley started doing the, uh, clinics, um, and, and, and, and from and from there we realized that people are still, a lot of people are still using paper, paper consent forth.

Ben O’Brien
Ashley Simpson-Davies

Ben: So from the back of the paper, we thought that we’d better make this digital. Kate some kind because Ash, as you know, you quite was quite untidy. That’s how it came about.

Ashley: It was quite, was quite, so my background was initially I did biomedical sciences at university. At the time, it seemed quite, quite well suited to do aesthetics when Ben and I started working together. But as the industry developed, they didn’t really quite classify that as a medic. So there’s this like non-med medic war and trying to understand. So part of what we were doing as well was understanding, the audience of the aesthetic industry as well. Yeah, it was quite messy, not tidy. And to try and understand where, and how many pictures you need to take before and after taking pictures, products, having paper, sticking your before and after photos onto. The image, you know, it wouldn’t always, you’d have like your finger blur in one or you know, you’d, you’d spill coffee on it.

Ashley: So the next time, so when Ben was like working with me, he was just like basically saying I was a mass sod, really, and. That we had to, we had to kind of streamline this. Which is when Ben initiated conversations with developers or, and I think actually you spoke to other tech companies first, didn’t you, Ben?

Ben: Yeah. So what I quickly realized was there was a couple of providers offering a similar service, but cause we were brand new in the industry, they all wanted like a hundred pound a month to pay for their software. So I rang one provider and said, I haven’t got a hundred pounds. I’ll pay you for this software. I’ve only got a few clients. Can I give you 50 pounds? And he says, no, I want a hundred pounds. And I thought, cause it’s tech, he can easily just change the numbers, can’t you? He could even charge me 50 pounds. I’ve signed up with him, but he said no. When I said, don’t we about it, I’ll create my own.

So then me and actually created our own, which was Faces. So if he would’ve allowed us to pay him 50 pounds a month bases wouldn’t have been anywhere. We wouldn’t have started it. So it was, it was the pain that we had in our own clinic that allowed us to then go and create our own products, but then it’s grown from consent. We started off with just one consent form. I think it was Dermal Filler/ Injectables, just stage three consent forms. That was the only thing we had, and we knew giving it away for free was the main goal to allow us to grow and get that. But from there, it’s gone quite well over the last three years.

Dawn: That’s absolutely amazing. And it’s great to hear that essentially you just, you found a need and literally just filled it and now you’re writing the success of that as well.

Ashley: Well, we call it, it’s not just a piece of software that there’s this consent form. We classify it as an ecosystem. So anything you want to use, anything however you want to run your business within the aesthetics industry, you can do through. So there’s, there’s like, there’s dozens of features, isn’t it? There actually what? That you can, that you can do. When we’re having the conversation together, I always, like, Ben gives me like a WhatsApp message at 11 o’clock at night or midnight and goes, have you seen this competitor?

And I’m always petrified. And they can’t be a competitor. There’s not anyone who has created the full ecosystem, I think because. Aesthetics in the UK market five years ago when we started was relatively new. In the past two or three years since basically, it has become a lot more popular, and we have probably built the only platform that is completely dedicated and tailored to an aesthetic practitioner, ranging from the sharps bins, the insurance that we do obviously in partnership with you guys, the pharmacies connecting to prescribers. Most people are either just a booking platform or they’re a consenter, or they’re a pharmacy.

But to bring it all together, it is the monster that we’ve built over the past three years. Really, it must be really beneficial for. You know, if I was a practitioner, just to have everything essentially in one place as well and not have to worry about, okay, I need a subscription to this for that, and then, you know, I need to go to this pharmacy and, and all the rest of it. When actually you can just all in one pop and then, yeah, that’s one less thing to worry about whilst you’re worrying about a ton of other things, especially if you run your own business. Yeah, and I suppose the good thing about Faces is I was looking through some of our user data the other day and it, our users don’t just, they, they use it for many different things.

So some of our users will just use it for the pharmacy, they’ll just use it to look for a training academy, or they’ll just use it for their consent forms. But obviously, most of our users, use it for all the features, but sometimes they just want to come from one or two features, and they use the platforms alongside. So it has something for everybody in the beauty and aesthetics industry.

Dawn: That’s awesome. So obviously we’re here to talk about how you guys have started this business. I know you say as well, you run some clinics, but could you tell me a bit more about the journey? You know, was it quite straightforward? Was there a lot of setbacks?

How did the Journey go into Faces?

Ben: I think sometimes because when we first started the app was expensive to run and initially before it gained traction, it was just used for ourselves. It was fine. But then, when we realized that actually there are, people who need software that does it all, we were funding this ourselves through the aesthetics that we were doing. Sometimes I think we were working every day. I think we did 28 20. Six or 27 locations. We travelled around the UK to different salons to do aesthetic clinics to Newcastle, up on time, all the way down to Kent as far west as Cardiff.

Ashley: And I actually got like an abscess, because of like all the driving around. And Ben had to do my packing. So you have to pack the wound. So he had to, when it midway we were having to do like a pit stop, like emergency first aid for Ben to pack. So you could call that a setback, not Ben’s not the highlight of my career or Ben’s career really, but an experience won’t it Ben?

Ben: Yeah. I wasn’t the only one to do that. So we had a weeping wound. So we made ourselves quite ill really to try and make this, this software work for people and for ourselves really. And we are very passionate about it, but it’s not as straightforward as it might look nowadays. So, it started off very small. We kept it very lean at the beginning and now.

This worked so well is one reason was it was free to use and two because we used it ourselves. So we created a business that we understood and we used the product, we used our own business, and Ashley’s cousin has a successful business as well in Marcine, and he used it in his own products as well.

So when we launched spaces, we didn’t even care if anyone else used it or not. We needed it. And then when we created, we saw all the pains and pitfalls of the issues we were having with our own aesthetic business. We thought, oh, we better add that to Faces. And then we just showed other practitioners and they went, oh, can we use it too?

Yeah, that’s fine. So we opened it for free, and then they kind of spread word and mouth. Then we spent no money on marketing, and it hasn’t been needed to the bulk of our traction’s been great customer service. Everyone’s got my personal number. We have 68,000 users on our app. So, every single one of them has my personal number.

Ben: I plaster my personal number all over Facebook for people to ha if they’ve got a message they need to contact me with. But our competitors don’t do that. You might send me an email, and back in a couple of weeks, send us a WhatsApp, Ashley. You’ll hear straight back or straight away. And because we have that customer service so well, so well nailed then we believe that that’s why people use this and cause we’ve got great features at the same time.

But in the initial time, it costs a lot of money to run. So at the moment it costs, it costs nearly a hundred grand on a monthly basis. Luckily we were bringing in just as much. So we raised to manage the investment. We raised a second round of money, so we’ve raised money along the way to help it grow.

But we have 17 developers. We have 13 customer service. So it’s kind of a monster that’s always growing. So, but in terms of if you’re trying to start a business, it’s best to start a business in English and actually start the assets. We didn’t know much we know about that. Then all I knew is, all I knew was that my mom had injectables and then, but we kind of learned that at the beginning. But what we, cause we ran an alcohol business before that. And what we did was we just took the concept of that business and moved it into aesthetics and we kind of replicated the structure of our alcohol drink business into the aesthetics business.

Ashley: And that’s why that worked. And then, we learned about spaces, but we didn’t really have much knowledge about that at the beginning. That was only kind of tech stuff, but it probably helped in it, Ben that we were so blissfully unaware about aesthetics and what was required because I think we’d then have no training necessarily to guide people.

There is more now, but five years ago, there wasn’t. We were very new to the industry. So as we were building our business, we were learning and taking in and realizing how much more you needed. Whereas what you tend to find, or what we did find at the time with a lot of competitors, is they haven’t got a background in aesthetics, or they are, say, somebody who’s been doing aesthetics a while, and they don’t have any tech knowledge.

So, they’re trying to translate medical jargon and aesthetics industry terminology, and trying to give that to a developer who understands code like the matrix is very difficult. Or you find a tech guru who doesn’t have a clue about the aesthetics world and doesn’t understand. What does filler do, trying to explain to them what lidocaine is or a prescription.

It’s over the top. Whereas what we were fortunate to have, because of the backgrounds that we, Ben and I both had with our previous businesses and certain members of the team who work with us, we were actually able to understand how. A business needed to operate, but then also understand how we can create that and put as many simple steps in place from a technical point of view so that you could marry the two up without it actually becoming this big spaghetti mess.

However, actually, I suppose if you did look at Faces now, you would call it a monster, and it needs to strip back. But we were quite good at doing that. Throughout really the process of building Faces to now. No, that’s brilliant. And I love how obviously you basically have drawn on your own experiences and pain points and all the rest of it to then know that you basically just knew what they kind of need instead of someone guessing, okay, so we’ll just do this maybe, and it would kind of be beneficial, whereas you’re like right on the money.

Yeah, we listened. We took on a lot of user feedback, so we would ask our users all the time, which features would you like to see next? Mm-hmm. And then every time they’d put, give us a feature, we just build it. And then, and then it kind of like worked on there. But I think what really worked was just being cons consistent every day.

Turning up. I think that’s what you need to do to win in business. I think it’s a case of just doing it every day. We work about 12 hours every day, six days a week on this, on this. So, and that’s what’s needed. Just keep going and going and going alone until a better look happens at the same time.

What advice would you give to those wanting to start an app?

Ben: Speak to as many people as possible. Don’t shy away or hide your idea. Think if someone’s gonna steal it. The reality is they’re not going to steal it. They, they haven’t got time. So just tell everyone, get your ideas. Get, get, try and get an MVP off. Get something very simple started and even if it’s just a basic webpage, share your idea.

Get people using it, you’ll get some feedback. Then build from there. Then if you need to try and raise some money, uh, and to help grow your product. Cause it does get. Then, and the last point will be just be consistent. Work on it Every single day there’s gonna be setbacks, but we gotta keep going.

Ashley: Yeah, I think, uh, definitely keep it simple. I think when we first start, we, Ben mentioned earlier the other day, we, where we are with the app now and our next feature that’s going to go live, It was one of the first conversations we ever had three years ago. Um, so actually, you know, trying to think too far ahead is great for vision, for actually making, making progress, keep it very simple and break it down into the steps.

And the, my, my over bit is, don’t. Don’t easily get pushed over and don’t easily let a barrier or a blocker mean that it’s game over. So many times you come up against, oh, you can’t do this, or this didn’t quite work, and it’s very easy to just go, ah, let’s not do that. Then there is always a way. Or, or a way around or a way over the top, or keep finding that and keep working with people to problem solve and try and make it easier for people.

Don’t try and make it more complicated. Running a business is complicated. I think you mentioned before, Dawn, like you’ve got all these things going on. So don’t try and answer everybody’s questions, like keep it simple and just do one at a time. Uh, and if you do come across the hurdle, make sure you, make sure you do find a, find a way to solve that.

Dawn: That’s brilliant. You mentioned as, well see there’s a next feature coming out. Are you allowed to tell me what it is?

Well, of course, yeah. So we’re going to be launching a booking, a booking diary, so faces is gonna be a full blown marketplace. Mm-hmm. So if you think, you know, booking.com for hotels, think of that for the aesthetics and the beauty industry.

So you’ll be able to upload your clinic, upload your personal profile, your aesthetics profile, and then we’ll send you new clients, the booking with. So be have to search local area. That’s what’s gonna, that’s what’s gonna be, uh, massive. Plus we believe, and I’m gonna take it. So then we’ll take it worldwide.

Dawn: Wow, that’s amazing.

We’re really excited about that because where we think a lot of people go wrong is they try to build a booking system with no clients. Mm-hmm. And then they promise people to pay a monthly subscription. It’s not possible faces, we’ve done it the other way where we are saying, imagine now if you went on booking.com and you only saw three hotels, you’d be a bit miffed.

You’d be like, oh, that’s not worth it. Imagine logging onto the booking.com of Faces, and you can see 68,000 practitioners across the UK, which is what we have, who you can pick. This is the best opportunity we have, especially in a saturated market, to offer our customers, who are our users, the ability to give them free clients and build where we can get clients to them. Which basically is kind of like a way we can support them for supporting us.

Dawn: Well, that sounds absolutely brilliant. So thank you so much for coming on today to discuss a bit more about Faces. We were saying as well, so it’s been about a year since we last spoke about faces, and it’s already just grown and grown, and it’s so amazing to see how much difference a year has made as well.

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