Office Hours: I am the founder of OpenBeauty, the go to community for aesthetic medical treatments. I'm Noura Liben.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Noura Liben, founder and CEO of OpenBeauty, the go to community for discovering and booking aesthetic medical treatments. Through OpenBeauty, users take a skin quiz, pick a provider, and book a treatment. I started my career leading teams and projects focused on automating back office functions for various supply chains at GE. I have a knack for building digital tools for enterprise resource planning systems in production, warehouse management, people ops and sales in food, textile and industrial manufacturing. A third culture kid born and raised in Sweden to Ethiopian parents, I moved to Texas as a teenager. My multicultural background informs my nuanced understanding of culture, teams and business. I earned my MBA from Stanford GSB, and hold a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a MS in Systems Engineering from SMU. I live in San Francisco and spend my days collecting self help books telling myself I'll read of these days. Ask me about founder life, thinking through when to make the leap into entrepreneurship, investing, business school, self-care and spirituality in business, and anything else that comes to mind!
Thanks so much for joining us @NouraL!Elphas – please ask @NouraL your questions before Friday, August 28th. @NouraL may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Noura! Great to see you on elpha :)Would love to hear more about your self-care practices as a founder? How did you shape your self-care routine and what resources do you turn to?Lola
Hi Lola! Great seeing you on here too :)Self-care these days is super important to me. On top of the pandemic, the wild fires in California and the economic uncertainty - I’m processing and thinking about the harm that comes from systemic racism. This summer has been particularly difficult with the killing of Breaonna Taylor and many others, and the horrific video of Jake Blake is yet another visual reminder. I center my self-care around 4 areas in my life; emotional, physical, spiritual and mental.It’s been a bit of a trial and error journey over the years and I’ve had to learn that I can’t “pour from an empty cup” as they say. I’ve learned to prioritize my well being and that includes recognizing ways to ensure I stay inspired. I’m sharing my practice below but I want to recognize that self-care is not prescriptive and that we each are wired differently and have different needs :) I’m big on community and for my emotional wellbeing I make it a point to have vulnerable discussions with friends and allow my community to support me when I feel low. I’m mindful of what digital spaces I spend time in, what I’m consuming online and who I allow into my space.I’ve also taken self-coaching courses, check out The Art of Self Coaching by Ed Batista - it’s a free Stanford GSB course made public with all the reading materials on his website. For my physical well being, I try to workout at least 3x weekly at a minimum. The payback is not always immediate but I’ve noticed that it’s easier to feel low on the weeks I don't work out, so I make sure I get some movement in. My spiritual practice includes daily morning journaling and short inspirational read (currently reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield), my daily prayers (I’m a practicing muslim) and finding a quiet moment in the afternoons for a short meditation with my sound bowls.Lastly, I love love love to learn and picking up new hobbies regularly, I’m currently really into astrology so I’ve got a few books I’m digging into. I’m learning that it’s ok and good to just have “hobbies” for fun and not worry about always monetizing my time and skills.
Thank you so much for sharing Noura! I'm going to check out the art of self-coaching!
Hi Noura! I'd love to learn more about the early growth of OpenBeauty. I am a founder of a beauty tech community as well. Handsome is the go to place for beauty pros to find career advice, education and jobs. Have you bootstrapped or also fundraised? If you've raised, what key strategies do you have for fundraising a Pre-Seed as a beauty tech company? Regarding user acquisition, I'd love to know tips on your user acquisition strategies. How much have you grown OpenBeauty so far? What organic growth strategies have been successful?Thank you!
Hi April,Congratulations on Handsome!I raised an angel round a year ago and I'm gearing up for a pre-seed this fall.Fundraising is really difficult for many reasons but mainly because investing at early stages has a lot to do with trust and that trust is often predicated on relationships i.e warm introductions. Secondly, the amount of traction varies widely from just an idea to actual paying customers depending on which angel or pre-seed fund you speak too.My main approach is to talk, connect and build community with fellow founders as much as possible to support and learn from each other. I've been able to learn so much from founders a few steps ahead of me and the startup community is so incredibly generous. We're all in this boat together and rooting for each other, that includes sharing insight and tips on which investors to reach out too. Don't be afraid to reach out to founders via twitter or LinkedIn to connect :)Speaking to the right investors that can get excited about you as a founder or your space is a good place to start. That involves doing your diligence as a founder and figuring out which investors are backing similar startups to yours, not competitors but similar business models or sector. For me that meant speaking to angels that had invested in marketplaces or digital health startups. I was able to identity said angels by talking to fellow founders that had already raised and were open to introducing me. I also reached out to angel syndicates like The Circle for example, an all woman angel investing group.Another helpful approach is securing angel investors with strong networks, they can help with your fundraising efforts by sharing your deal with friends and other VC's they've co-invested with. Angel scouts are also helpful but harder to identify. Again, talk to as many people as possible and always ask "Who else would you recommend I speak with?".VC twitter is also another good resource to help identify potential investors, some investors are open to cold DM's and emails. There are other voices in the ecosystem like Lolita Taub for example, that are doing a good job of compiling lists and resources for overlooked founders.So far our organic growth has focused on finding our users online and meeting them in digital communities and groups where conversations around aesthetic medicine are held.
Hi Noura,I saw you at a panel discussion at LO/C x SF. Your insights were candid and super helpful. I wanted to know how has B-school helped you in your entrepreneurship journey?
Hi Misna!Glad to see you on here as well :) It helped me in two ways. I was able to learn how to evaluate markets, how to think critically about strategy and different business models. In short, it’s helped me become a savvy business woman. The Stanford network within the startup ecosystem is very strong and the alumni base has been very helpful to me along the way.
Hi!Nice to meet you! Such an interesting background with Eng and now a crosslink of tech&beauty.Wondering if you have any advice for someone who longs to be an entrepreneur and build a start up but doesn't have a 'financial cushion' to support herself without her full time day job?I have student loans, rent, you responsibilities. I took a couple leaps of faith along the way (ie moving to London) that prevented me from building up a substantial savings, though gave me a BUNCH of work and life experience. Now, I feel ready to build something but have only just reached a salary level that allows me to order take out rather than eat microwave noodles haha.
Hi Kenda,I totally resonate with your situation and smart move on your end to make sure you're in a good financial state before pursuing entrepreneurship.I come from an immigrant background, do not have generational wealth and support my mother financially. Setting out to pursue entrepreneurship right out of business school with student loans was a scary decision. I did not have a financial cushion and spent my first year couch surfing with friends living frugally, picking up random consulting gigs along the way as needed to cover my basics.It was however a calculated bet, I knew I had solid experience and could go back to the regular workforce should this chapter in my life not work out.My advice is to make informed decisions and take calculated risks. For me, that meant doing solid user need finding before jumping into this venture. I interviewed ALOT of consumers to pinpoint clear needs. I went to work for a medical spa to understand provider pain points. I visited various medical spa's and dermatology offices as an undercover customer to validate that the need I was building for held true for a large portion of the market. I knew I had something when two doctors offered to invest in my idea, the fact that potential customers wanted to back me was a strong signal and I took the leap.My other suggestion is to start small. Depending on what your product/idea is - figure out small steps to test if customers want it. For example, if your idea is an app or platform there are low and no code platforms like webflow, glide, bubble etc that allow you to build an MVP cheaply and easily without any coding skills required. If your idea is a physical good you can create a landing page, run some ads on Facebook and Instagram and see if customers will pre-pay for a product or join a waitlist. My last advice is to join digital maker, hacker, ecommerce, female founder communities on Slack and Facebook to gleam insights on scrappy ways to get off the ground.
I have a colleague and friend with an exceptional beauty product we would like to bring to market. We feel intimidated by large marketing platforms like Guthy Renker. What advice do you have for bootstrapping social marketing? We cannot outspend so he has to out craft.
Hello Noura, congratulations on your endeavors and I wish you much success. My question echoes the sentiment of a few others. I would like to know about fundraising strategies you employed, any specific investor partnerships or incubators you targeted, and how you developed your user base. Thank you for your time.
Hi Noura, What podcasts, blogs, or other sources do you recommend for folks who want to stay up-to-date on the beauty and skincare industry? I'd like to stay on top of the industry from a business standpoint, consumer insights and trends, and what's happening in terms of funding, competition in the space, major player changing jobs, etc. Thank you so much!Karen
Hi Noura! Thank you for taking time to share more about yourself and opening the floor for questions! Im interested in the topic of spirituality in business. What does that mean to you? What does that look like for you? Any books that you have read that you found resonated with you on this topic? Ways in which you harness your spirituality for business growth and client accusation/partnerships? Within the last year I have started my own private health coaching practice (with the goal to turn it into a platform to reach more people)....I'm still in the early stages and have a spiritual side of me that I would like to use towards the growth of my business.
Hi Noura,Would love to learn about your process pre-seed. How much did you build to show traction? How did you build it? What did you have to learn to build it? Would love to connect with another fellow founder as well!Madhu
Nice to meet you Noura!