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Heavily pregnant entrepreneur hits $500k investment

Heavily pregnant entrepreneur hits $500k investment

Subhaga Amarasekara and her husband Roshan Mahanama, founders of FLAYR

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.

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“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. 

Heavily pregnant entrepreneur hits $500k investment
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