An entrepreneur who was pitching for investment while 7.5 months pregnant has successfully secured half a million dollars in funding to scale her family business.
Sydney Angels, which describes itself as Australia’s largest angel investment organisation, stumped up the $500,000 in seed capital for FLAYR – a marketplace platform connecting consumers with freelance hair and beauty professionals.
FLAYR was launched in 2016 by Subhaga Amarasekara and her husband Roshan Mahanama (pictured with their son), initially as a means of generating extra work for Mr Mahanama’s mother, a trained make-up artist.
“But when demand for the services rapidly grew, and bookings raced past $1 million, we realised we had a real opportunity on our hands. It was time to raise capital to scale up the business,” Ms Amarasekara said.
According to Sydney Angels, business leaders face a difficult situation in trying to pitch for investment. It suggested that gender, pregnancy and being in business with a spouse or partner are significant turn-offs for many investors.
But Ms Amarasekara remained firmly behind her business and its offering, and while 7.5 months pregnant, pitched to a room full of prospective financial backers.
“Pitching to a room full of investors is always a somewhat daunting experience. Doing this while heavily pregnant, and having just dealt with my toddler’s meltdown an hour before, made this especially challenging!” she said.
“I know investors want founders who are 100 per cent focussed on the business. I also knew it was clear to everyone in the room that I would soon have a pretty large extra commitment in my life – as if running a start-up wasn’t hard enough.”
Adrian Bunter, lead investor on the deal from Sydney Angels, said that Ms Amarasekara and Mr Mahanama presented a very clear business case, which inspired the investors to part with their cash.
“First of all, FLAYR had a great business model and plan, which was clearly and compellingly communicated in the pitch,” he explained.
“The numbers also showed an impressive demand for FLAYR – over 800 stylists from across Australia already signed up, over 2,300 verified customer reviews averaging 4.9 out of 5, and over $1 million in bookings.
“Any spousal concerns were alleviated because of a business they had previously run very successfully together, and how their complimentary skill sets made them a particularly strong team. Combined with their clear passion for FLAYR, I was quickly asking myself – where do I sign up?”
FLAYR will use the funds to expand the platform’s offering nationally and refine its offering for the benefit of business users.
According to its website, Sydney-based FLAYR is now used by more than 600 beauty and hair professionals across Australia, who have collectively served over 10,000 customers through the platform.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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