Jennifer Rock was the winner of The Pitch 2018, an exciting business competition aimed at change-makers in Ireland. She won a career-changing prize worth up to €100,000. This year, The Pitch is back and we asked Jennifer for her advice to entrants.
Tell us about how you launched your business and the history behind it?
The Cleanse Off Mitt started from my parent’s kitchen table, where we’d package deliveries and walk them down to the post office. When the Cleanse Off Mitt became a success, selling 10,000 units in 20 days, I decided that it was time for me to bring more of my ideas to fruition and go out on my own officially.
That’s when the Nerd Network, the first facet of The Skin Nerd, began, and we started with online skin consultations originally with just one Nerdette. The Skin Nerd is now a team of 16 people, and under the nerdie umbrella, you have Nerd Network, The Skin Nerd book, Cleanse Off Mitt and Skingredients, our new skincare range.
"I was up against so many true innovators, hustlers, people who have had phenomenal ideas and carried them through... entrepreneurs who are well-known and loved in Ireland."
Skincare has been my passion since I was 13 when my mother took me for my very first facial. I knew there and then that I wanted to be a facialist, and from hands-on experience, I realised that I loved the education side of beauty.
The Pitch 2019: Enter now
The Skin Nerd was founded and based on education, on spreading the word of skin health in as many ways as we can, and education has been the pillar that we’ve centred Skingredients around. Naturally, from our Nerd Network online skin consultations through to the online retail of Skingredients, we are still very much grounded in the digital realm.
How did you first hear about the Pitch and what made you want to enter?
I follow IMAGE religiously and plenty of people approached me to say “look, you should really apply”. The description said ‘dreamers and doers’ and that is advice I always follow and give; to dream something and do something, so it felt a bit like fate.
How did you prepare for the finals, and were you nervous?
The application process from start to finish was nerve-wracking, especially finding out who we were up against; so many true innovators, hustlers, people who have had phenomenal ideas and carried them through, entrepreneurs who are well-known and loved in Ireland.
I will admit that we didn’t think we had gotten so far in the competition, so it was a mad rush to make a presentation when the actual finals came around. We had synchronised choreography, we printed our progress pictures onto cardboard cutouts of Samsung tablets and we’re proud of what we managed to achieve to a tight deadline.
How did it feel pitching to the judges?
To stand in front of entrepreneurs who I admire and aspire to be, and to state my case as to why I believed that The Skin Nerd was something worth placing bets on was terrifying, but being announced as the winner was one of the purest rushes I’ve ever felt. In videos, you can see I literally just start to walk away from my team and my partner towards the stage.
How did it feel to be the first ever winner of the Pitch?
It felt incredible. It was a personal achievement; it felt like it solidified everything I was working towards professionally.
"As a tech company that is expanding rapidly, having premium Samsung technology has been indispensable for us."
I also felt that every single person who made it to the finals deserved to win. They are passionate, driven, hard-working humans who are genuinely innovating in their respective fields and it was an honour to be a part of something they were a part of too.
How has the prize helped your business since last year?
As a tech company that is expanding rapidly, having premium Samsung technology has been indispensable for us - we use the Flips all the time, the Note 9s take incredible photos - every department has benefited. Teneo’s workshop was catered towards our needs and has changed the way we look at digital marketing, and the support we’ve received since has been phenomenal.
It gave me the opportunity to network, to meet more people to work with in future. We actually used part of our Samsung prize to bring VR technology to our business, which is now used as part of Skingredients training. It makes us look really cool.
What advice would you give 2019 entrants to the competition?
Just do it and break open the box and smash it. Ruin the box, the box is like a jail cell.
Speak with those in your life who know a lot about a lot. People who’ve applied for programmes like the Pitch, successful entrepreneurs, and people who have skills that you don’t necessarily possess at this very moment.
"I wish I’d known that the judges were looking for the real answers, not the answers you feel that you have to say or the 'PR-friendly' answers."
For me, I think that having had the perspective and ideas of an array of people was something that allowed me to explain my business and my aspirations in a winning way.
What do you wish you'd known when entering last year?
I wish I’d known that the judges were looking for the real answers, not the answers you feel that you have to say or the “PR-friendly” answers. Regardless of uncertainty, I committed to bringing a human, raw and real aspect to our entry and on stage, and that was applauded in the judges’ critiques. It’s phenomenal to have a digital partner like Samsung give credit to the hard hours and relentless struggles associated with being an entrepreneur, and for them to provide support in a way that genuinely fits our company’s needs.
What do you think about the Pitch now being open to both men and women?
Humans are humans at the end of the day and everyone deserves to have the opportunity to enter! Winning has upgraded our business immensely, and Samsung and IMAGE as businesses cater to all people of all genders so personally, I’m delighted it’s open to all.
What are you most excited about in being a judge for this year's competition?
People always call me the Simon Cowell of skincare because I’m frank, honest and to the point, and in this scenario, I get to be a nicer version of Simon Cowell. In my own business, we’re still at a start-up stage, particularly with the recent launch of Skingredients.
The different facets of The Skin Nerd has allowed me to appreciate various parts of business, including B2B, B2C, online and digital, social media and media in general, product manufacturing and distribution. I feel that at this point, I have a thorough understanding of running a business from a start point to where we are at the moment.
I’m excited to learn about where the contestants are in their particular journey.
So, what are you waiting for? Get pitching!
Visit image.ie/thepitch to make your case to be included in the final shortlist.
Terms and conditions apply. See image.ie/terms-and-conditions for details.