ClearForMe Profile

ClearForMe logo.

ClearForMe is a beauty tech startup that combines powerful software to provide consumers and retailers with ingredient transparency in beauty products. 

Founders Icon Founder(s): Sabrina Noorani
Founded in Icon Founded In: 2017
Industry Icon Industry: Beauty Tech
Location Icon Location: Miami, Florida

Interview With Sabrina Noorani

Describe your product or service:

“We are an ingredient solution proven to increase average order values for brands and retailers. Working with 300+ brands along with the largest beauty retailers in the industry (Ulta Beauty, Credo Beauty), we leverage our fact-based ingredient database (over 1 million) to provide user-friendly ingredient education and the ability to filter and search your products based on ingredients for your D2C site. Brands and retailers use our simple plug-and-play API to make their ingredients clickable, searchable, and shoppable. Instead of a generic, one-size-fits-all recommendation, our smart product discovery tool uses Machine Learning to recommend intuitive personalized products, deepening your customers’ digital experience with your brand. Customers spend less time researching and feeling overwhelmed while making product decisions faster and spending more.”

Describe your company values and mission:

“Change how the world consumes ingredient information.”

How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.

“Angel and seed investors.”

How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)

“20-person team looking to double in the next 12 months. We have a hybrid model with our product/data teammates, [and they] are based in Philly; business, development, and sales [are based] in Miami; and customer success [is based] in Austin.”

Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

"No, I was following a traditional career path as a trader on wall street. A personal skin issue forced me on a journey to solve it as a consumer, and then when I saw there was no solution, I needed to develop a solution. 

A more formal description: A Math whiz, Sabrina was one of the only female derivatives traders at NYSE and later, one of the first employees (she was on the founding team that started their institutional desk) at the now illustrious Citadel hedge fund. In 2017, a debilitating skin allergy led her to launch ClearForMe."

How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?

"A few years ago, my lips started to puff up, itch, and the skin started to peel so much I started getting staph infections every other week. I found out I needed to avoid fragrance and then learned that there are 32 different synonyms used in ingredient labels. Vitamin C, 35. Salicylic Acid, 12. There is no standardization in ingredient labels which makes it hard for consumers like me to find what we’re looking for. I needed to build ClearForMe to help make it easier to find what we’re looking for. Ultimately, to help consumers make confident product choices. 

To be honest, the idea started with just an ‘exclude’ feature. Being able to avoid things was why I needed to start ClearForMe. Our team quickly learned that while people need to search by ingredients they want to avoid, it’s just as important that they are able to find products by ingredients they want to include. Ingredients are the common denominator for any product recommendation. For example, if you have dry skin, it's valuable if you can not only avoid ingredients that are drying but also if you can find ingredients in your recommendations that help hydrate and moisturize your skin. 

To actually act on the idea — for me, it came in baby steps. I was playing with the idea in my head, and then tiptoed into an accelerator program with this idea, and five months later, I had a corporate structure all set up and enough practice pitching the idea every week, which gave me confidence to turn it into something in the real world. 

What really let me know I was on the right track was after I landed a meeting with Annie (co-founder at Credo) and Dawn (then CEO), and right after the meeting, they called me and said, ‘let's do this.’ I was in a state of disbelief (in the best way, of course). I knew I was solving something meaningful, and [having] these two strong women immediately get how CFM was solving a big need in the industry and for their customers was a WOW moment for me."

How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?

"Personalization was at the heart of names I was reviewing. There are a lot of databases or sites that give you their opinions about ingredients and products. But, there was nothing that was personalizing it based on what is important to me. It was also important to highlight that we wanted to make things easy, user-friendly, and clear/simple to use. I did an exercise where I listed all of the attributes I wanted. I even used a site where you can write in a few keywords and the site jumbles them up to come up with names and domains that are available. 

Other names in consideration: clearly.com, stayclear.com, forallergies.com"

Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.

What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?

“Knowing when to keep going with an ‘idea’ that wasn't validated yet vs. when to walk away. Before having our first customer, I couldn't decide if I was on the right path or if I was solving a problem only I thought was worth solving as a business. I overcame this once I changed how I set my goals. I created a goal that had a measurable milestone for success with an expiration date. For me, it was to sell my idea to a brand or retail client within three months. The goal pushed back all of the other ‘to-do’ items I would get caught up in as a new founder/entrepreneur and focused my time on just sales. It also reduced my fear of rejection. If I didn't make it happen, and I didn’t send the cold emails and countless follow-ups to those contacts, I wasn't going to make the sale. It made me bold, courageous, and indirectly, more confident, which I believe is the reason Annie Jackson said yes to meeting with me even though she knew nothing about me.”

Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?

“Our technology is added by brands and retailers with the goal to deliver ingredient transparency and education to end customers.”

What's your marketing strategy?

“Build anchor relationships that create a network effect. By partnering strategically with the largest clean beauty retailer in the world, Credo, we established credibility with leading indie brands to then partner with us. We bootstrapped our way to 300+ partners simply by being strategic around who we partnered with. Credo led to partnerships like Versed, which then led to partnerships with the largest retailer in the US, Ulta Beauty, and so on.”

How did you acquire your first 100 customers?

“We [sought out] partners who were authentic, had a unique point of view and cold-emailed them. For our first customer, we built a prototype of our vision on their site, and after that, we slowly built an army of sites we could show subsequent partners different ways they could bring their ingredient stories to life.”

What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?

“ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue), Retention of partners, ROI — % of topline revenue that engages with ClearForMe, Increase in AOVs, Time on Site, Pages per session, and conversion.”

What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?

‘15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership’ by Jim Dethmer.”

What is your favorite startup or business podcast?

“Tim Ferris.”

What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?

“It can feel lonely and also one of the most fulfilling things you'll ever do.”

How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?

“For me, it's in waves. Sometimes I lean more [into] work, and sometimes it tilts more [towards] life. As long as there's an even swing between the two, then I consider balance achieved.”

How do you stay motivated?

“Even when I'm stressed or when things feel hard, I know deep down I'm lucky and doing something that fills up my bucket.”

Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?

“Living in the gain vs. the gap — end of every day, write three things that I achieved that were positive. Why, and what is the next step? This practice silenced the days I used to have feeling like even though I was 'working' all day, I didn't think I got anything done. It also helps get my mind ready and focused for the next day.”

What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?

“Creating a product that people find meaningful, valuable, and easy to use.”

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