If you thought technology startups creating the next hot product in your pocket were hot, you've clearly never seen a girl's makeup drawer.

As a guy, I have little interest in makeup trends. As an entrepreneur who likes to keep one finger on every kind of pulse, I find value in knowing what's happening in every industry--I don't discriminate. Why? Because often times, what is commonplace in one industry is groundbreaking in another. And the more you pay attention to, the more pools you can pull from when you're short on solutions.

For those that don't know, the U.S. beauty industry in 2016 was valued as an $80 billion sector--with projections that it will reach close to $90 billion by 2020. That's just in the United States, the largest beauty market in the world. On a global scale, the cosmetics market is expected to reach close to $430 billion by 2022.

Here, global beauty industry analyst, Karen Grant from The NPD Group, said, "The beauty industry has gained $1 billion for three consecutive years."

That growth is just, astonishing.

But when people think about beauty products, they think in terms of, well, products and brick-and-mortar stores. You have your salons, your shops, kiosks in the mall even. But what about on-demand services? If you can order a masseuse to come to your house, or have food delivered from your favorite restaurant to your door, why can't you do the same with a makeup artist?

This is the idea behind WarPaint International, an on-demand beauty agency whose founder, Jessica Mae, is a professional makeup artist. Mae recently landed herself on the Minneapolis 40 Under 40 list. Starting with Mae's passion for makeup, she turned that individual love into a full-blown company that enlists freelancers in various cities. With no storefront, and instead acting as an agency between clients and servicers (trained under the WarPaint International brand), the company is operating with all the features of a new-school startup.

However, the idea of on-demand beauty services isn't entirely novel. One of Warpaint International's competitors, GlamSquad, made the pivot to enter the on-demand market back in 2014 when they did an initial round of funding of $2M.

What is novel is the next move they're making on the chessboard, and it's one of those, "Wait, why didn't I think of that?" ideas.

WarPaint International, now that it has market share and brand recognition, is opening the doors for franchise opportunities for makeup artists and hair stylists. What does this mean? This means that now freelancers can avoid having to build their own brand, their own sales funnels, their own billing infrastructure, portfolio work, etc., and gives them the ability to do what they love--right out of the box.

This is what's so fascinating about innovation.

Franchising has been going on in the restaurant industry for as long as anyone can remember--think McDonald's and its story in The Founder. But that territory in the beauty and cosmetics industry is still largely untapped.

This is exactly what happens in every industry that gets disrupted. A model that has already been proven to work extremely well elsewhere, gets applied somewhere nobody thought to look. How did the cab business not come up with Uber? How did restaurant group owner not come up with GrubHub? How did Hilton not come up with AirBnb?

I'll tell you exactly why.

Because most people only keep their eyes focused on their industry. They don't bother looking elsewhere.

Within the beauty and cosmetic industries, there are spas and nail places, other kinds of ventures that have expanded in this way, but very few mobile makeup and hair concepts that offer franchise opportunities. And yet, think about how many individuals go to beauty school, and end up looking for a job--or struggle to get their own thing going. WarPaint International's move into micro-franchising for independent freelancers is a disruptive step in a very big industry that seems to be a bit slow to move.

The question I pose to you then is: what's something that is extremely common in the industry you're most familiar with, and where might you be able to apply it that no one else has thought to yet?

Like I said, in the restaurant world, franchises are a dime a dozen.

In the beauty industry? "Huh... Why didn't we think of that?"

Published on: Jul 6, 2017
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