“Skincare is still a category where the marketing feels like the brands are talking to [consumers] instead of doing something for them.” – Adam Ross
Adam Ross, co-founder and CEO of Heyday, is at the forefront of changing the way people engage with skincare by offering personalized, seamless customer journeys. From the onset of his finance-focused undergraduate career, he initially pursued investment banking for seven years followed by co-founding Tussock Group LLC investment firm and eventually venturing to the disruptive market of facial skincare. As a Wharton MBA Program graduate himself, he is truly thriving in the business scene and the Penn Innovators in Business Network asked him to share the insights he has gained throughout his career journey …
Did you know you wanted to go into finance even when you were applying for undergraduate?
“You know, I did, but I think just [being] inexperienced when you’re younger is, to some extent–you need broader knowledge so you can be better with the numbers, right? The numbers only tell a part of the story. I think focus within that area and broader understanding helps you A) humanize the numbers 2) interpret them or be able to synthesize other issues or things between numbers because you’ve got a much better understanding of that.”
How do you know if a startup has a good chance of succeeding?
“I think the short response is, you never really know…As an entrepreneur, I am actually very risk averse and I think that can sound very contradictory to people because they always associate being an entrepreneur with a very high tolerance for risks and I just don’t think that’s the case. For example, before making that big jump into Heyday, I worked with my two other co-founders and we got some samples made and we took them around to a bunch of accounts and basically generated informal purchase orders before we jumped into any big production orders…And I think holding a validated product to the market today versus just jumping into the unknown and doing a production order and [making] all these decisions out of sequence…I think you can be smart about how you do it…It’s my advice to those out there listening is to not make it a one way discussion in the interview process–it’s also an opportunity to ask questions, right?”
Can you tell us about a time when you made a business mistake?
“I think a lot of founders make these huge leap of faith assumptions and I’ve made a mistake in my career–I spent too many hours sitting around the boardroom table arguing about what we think the customer wants. It does matter, but you’ve got to throw it out there and the market is going to land whether you got a concept that works or not.”
How is Heyday’s marketing strategy different from other brands?
“We started Heyday to actually take a very new approach around personalization because skincare is still a category where everyone feels like the brands are talking to them instead of doing something for them. In our communication, it’s much more targeted and we’re very narrow on our demographic and who our core user is versus being too broad makes it hard to feel personalized. We also invest in our team of experts who perform the facials and if we invest in them then they’ll create a fantastic and personalized customer experience. As a result we actually don’t need to spend too much money on marketing. I think you can get smart about how you do it. You can create a level of advocacy that feels high touch and personalized without things being in your face.”
What advice would you give to undergraduates as they seek their future path?
“There’s no right or wrong. Everyone is on their own journey and there are different things for different people…Just be true and authentic to yourself. You’ll chart the right journey. We should judge success through your own lens as opposed to any other external folks or any other sort of perceived societal norms.”