Their partnership may have come as a surprise to a few people in the cohort, and maybe even to themselves: Gina was initially interested in the sustainable fashion and beauty space while Chris’s background was in biotechnology. Together, they joined forces to build Glaize - a D2C nail care brand that is on a mission to change how women get their nails done and what nail care products are made up of.
After spending five years in Investment Banking in Dubai and London, Gina decided she wanted to do something for herself and start her own venture. Chris previously worked in biotech in various startups, but he also dreamt about building his own company. Their paths have crossed at Antler. Now, Gina is the CEO, and Chris is the CPO at Glaize. Here is their co-founding journey.
Gina: In the early days, I thought that the right co-founder for me would be a CTO to go along with my commercial background. I knew I wanted to build a company that I could relate to as a consumer but I also wanted to build something with purpose, so I was initially exploring ideas in both the sustainable fashion and beauty space. I decided to let go of my sustainable fashion ideas when I realised that the other founders that I was networking with were not getting as excited as I was. I wanted to take full advantage of Antler and finding a great co-founder was my priority.
Chris: I did not have an ideal co-founder profile in mind. I had always been on the commercial side of science. I just knew I needed someone very detailed oriented to counterbalance my big picture approach. As we were networking, I quickly realised we were only three from biotech and so I was encouraging people to come to me with their ideas. Everyone knew a lot and I was enjoying having conversations!
Chris: Gina thought I looked like the CEO of Cambridge Analytics and told everyone in the cohort. That fun fact (which I don’t believe!) certainly made Gina memorable to the cohort!
Gina: Chris and I clicked from the very early days of Antler but I don’t think either of us was considering one another as potential co-founders. As you can imagine, Chris wasn’t really envisaging building a beauty tech start-up and I was too fixated on the idea of finding a technical co-founder.
Gina: It’s that friendship that enabled me to informally approach Chris with the idea for Glaize. I knew I had to pick his material science and biotech brain to figure out if my dream nail care product as a consumer was feasible and I viewed him as my Antler confidant. As I started explaining version 1 of Glaize (which we’ve evolved together since), I saw how excited he got and that’s when it became real. This brainstorm was followed with a session with one of Antler’s Venture Partners who loved the idea when we pitched it to him and that’s how Glaize was born.
Chris: When the lockdown was announced, I packed in a rush and was on the last train to Scotland. I was very distracted and realised that so far I had just made friends at Antler, but Gina’s concept for Glaize stayed with me. When Gina spoke to me about her idea, it clicked. After settling back into the remote-working life we were back to work on Glaize.
Gina: I did quite a bit of soul searching after leaving the corporate world and at Antler. After various brainstorming sessions, I knew that I had to solve a problem that I was encountering as a consumer and that it needed to have a sustainability angle. Nail care happened to be at the top of my list. I hated the process and I realised that the industry was sleepy and lacked innovation. I still have this memory of my mum with her box of 100 nail polish bottles when I was a kid. Not much has changed since and it felt like space which needed a shake-up.
Chris: I realised everything made sense when Gina started explaining it to me. Nail polish is quite an opaque industry in terms of the components contained in the bottles and I got really drawn to the opportunity of breaking the process down and improving the ingredients. I’ve always been interested in industries which are a bit old fashioned and ready for improved processes.
Gina: Chris also thought that women really enjoyed the process of getting their nails done. He quickly realised speaking around that most women actually don’t. That was another aha moment for us.
Gina: Keep an open mind. If there is something that excites you, don’t be afraid of the unknown. Dare to leave the safety net and take the plunge. Do your own thing. It doesn’t matter if you fail because you learn so much anyways.
Chris: Be as flexible as possible and don’t fight over job titles. Don’t leave the corporate world and try to reproduce the stable and controlled environment. Embrace the unknown and the flow that entrepreneurship represents.
Glaize is a direct to consumer nail care brand that is on a mission to change how women get their nails done and what nail care products are made up of. They want to shake up the industry by simplifying the process for women and by breaking the industry’s reliance on petrochemicals. Glaize’s first product is made-to-measure gels: in a nutshell, they convert images of customers’ hands into a 3D model using computer vision and use that model to customise their gel sheets before delivering to their doorstep within 48 to 72 hours. Glaize’s gels can be applied in a few minutes and the removal process consists of peeling them off in seconds. The team is working on a version that will last for 10-14 days. The launch will be with solid colours before expanding into nail art and ancillary nail care products. Glaize is also working on developing a plant-based version of the product with their university partners.
Watch their pitch from the second Antler UK Demo Day in October 2020:
If you are thinking about founding your own company and starting your entrepreneurial journey, apply now to Antler.