Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Kind of Advisory Board

A few days ago, a local CEO got together with members of her advisory board to discuss strategy, finance and...to make products. TASHODI is the latest local beauty startup out of Toronto and its eye is on what many believe is the next big trend in body care: products made from fair trade ingredients. The founder's story is compelling (watch for their web site launch to learn it firsthand). The products? First water quality.

Whenever I hear the old saw that Toronto is X(5, 15, 150) years behind Silicon Valley as a business creation centre, I think of the thriving local infrastructure that supports the beauty industry. Toronto is perhaps one of the best centres for nurturing startups in the beauty and body care industry, home of many of the independent and quirky brands that feed stores like Sephora, Ulta and Bed, Bath and Beyond. It's a business that can be built by bootstrapping, and entrepreneurs are regularly taken under the wings of world class designers and formulators. The kind who will sit in a loft discussing the relative merits of different distribution channels while mixing soap.

Think this is a cottage industry? Take a look at the many private equity firms who've started playing in this space. In particular, note the sale by Ottawa's tiny Fusion Beauty of a stake in its home grown company to Eugene Melnyk for a rumored $80 million.

Watch for the roll out this fall of a startling number of serious players, including Organic Revolution (the second successful company from its founder in this space).

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