Romain Gaillard was born in Paris, France. After obtaining a master’s degree at EDHEC Business School and at LSE, he started working between San Francisco and Toronto. Over the years in Silicon Valley, he participated in several ventures as adviser or co-founder. From Web advertising and social networks to security software, he advised many startups before launching Archivd, an innovative way to save, organize and share Web pages.
In 2008, Romain came across Valerie’s personal story and project. Valerie, a breast cancer survivor, reinvented her life while detoxifying her environment. She moved away from Hollywood and the movie industry to study the healing power of plants in Topanga Canyon. This is when she learned about the high level of toxicity in cosmetics and started making her own fresh skincare.
He loved the concept and convinced her to have the audacity to launch the first company creating freshly made organic skincare. This is how Odacité was born.
Romain and Valerie’s vision was disruptive and unique — create the first organic skincare line prepared fresh for each customer, ensuring that each ingredient maintains its original freshness and efficacy, without the need for any preservatives.
Their first collection launch was an immediate success, and the major newspapers and magazines started talking about it. From Vogue to The New York Times, everyone starting raving about this new line of skincare. Odacité is now shipping in 22 countries.
In 2010, Romain founded the Detox Market with Valerie. The Detox Market is a collaborative pop-up store of hard-to-find, best-in-breed eco-friendly brands. Traveling from city to city the Detox Market introduces carefully screened green brands in beauty, fashion and food to the consumer who wants to detoxify their body and living environment. Some of these brands are available for the first time in the U.S. The first location opened in November 2010 on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Calif.
What are you working on right now?
We are working on turning the Detox Market into a permanent place that would reinvent itself every three months. We are testing and trying many different brands in order to get the best one in each category. But the major part of my time is dedicated to Odacité. We are looking into a new product that could be customized to each skin type, and right now we’re evaluating wonderful organic oils coming from 10 different countries.
3 trends that excite you?
Going back to the essential. I strongly believe that we have too much choice as a consumer. Today, if you go in a supermarket to buy a bar of chocolate you will see many brands with a wide range of flavors. At the end you are losing the essential thing, finding one great chocolate made with the best ingredients available. I think that consumers are now asking for more simplicity. We need to get back to the roots of each product.
Organic becoming efficient. For a long time, large cosmetic companies tried to convince us that organic and eco-friendly meant expensive and inefficient. It’s not true anymore. In many cases, it meant the opposite. Look at the great level of anti-oxidants in our formulations, or the properties of water-based nail polish or the restorative properties of some organic shampoo.
Traceability and transparency. For years now, consumers have asked for more transparency about the origin of products. With social media and smartphones it will now be much easier to check information and connect producers and consumers. It’s great that you can, for example, check the level of toxicity of cosmetics on cosmeticsdatabase.com.
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me it’s about exchanging. I am incapable of finding an idea alone in my office. I need to travel, read and talk to people. Valerie and I are constantly brainstorming on our strategy, ways to improve customer service or developing new products. We are so used to communicating with each other that sometimes other people won’t understand us.
As an entrepreneur, I always think that you need to talk about your ideas. You learn much more than you put at risk by sharing an idea. When I advise entrepreneurs on a project, I refuse to help them if they refuse to share their idea with other people.
What inspires you?
I love to read biographies and hear about people’s stories. The common characteristic among most successful entrepreneurs, politicians and artists is that they never quit. When I have a series of bad news this is what I try to keep in mind: There is always a way out of this.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
One major mistake I made was to try to re-create the wheel when we launched Archivd. We developed a great platform to save, organize and share Web pages. The need was clearly identified: Users want a better way to have and organize their Web research. We brought an elegant solution, thanks to the programming talent of my business partner Carlos Bueno. However, I should have understood that the last thing that users needed is a new platform. What I learned is that, if you have an idea, look at what exists and try to make it better before trying to build it from scratch.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a restaurant/bar offering only the simplest dish — the best of each. The menu would be
- Organic heirloom tomatoes with salt and olive oil
- Patanegra ham from Spain
- Smoked salmon from Ireland
- Seared California mushroom with parsley
- Chèvre frais on bread
I would like to make it as simple as possible and focus on the quality of the core ingredient.
What is one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I used Mindshare, Basecamp and other collaborative software. But I think that the combination of Gmail and Google Docs offers everything you need for free.
I also used Archivd for my Web search, and I think that it would have been really difficult to launch Odacité without
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Julien Mayot, a fellow entrepreneur. Based in San Francisco, he founded blue orange game, and he sold more than a million educative and eco-friendly games.
How do you compete with giants like L’Oreal in the cosmetic industry?
When we launched Odacité, most people thought we were not going to make it, because it was impossible to introduce a new line in a market trusted by huge corporations. How did we become successful? Three reasons.
We are unique. We were the only one creating freshly-made skincare. By doing that, we created products that are actually working. Next, we are ten times better than competitors in customer service. We answer any questions within a day, we ship as soon as possible, and we follow up with customers to see if they were happy. That is why 85 percent of our customers reorder. We push people to try our products instead of telling them how great they are. Any of our customers can ask us to send free discovery kits to their friends, and we sell a seven-product kit for only $25 for people to see by themselves.
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