ASK ME ANYTHING: Jenene Crossan

Jenene Crossan

Jenene Crossan founded online magazine NZGirl.co.nz at age 20, working from a second-hand PC in her bedroom. 

Just a couple of years later, the young entrepreneur won the backing of one of New Zealand's top private investors, the late Lloyd Morrison, which led to starting her second business, youth research company 18 Ltd (later sold to Research International).

Her next venture, a female-masthead ad network, won backing from high-profile venture capital outfit MOVAC. A post-global financial crisis push across the Tasman saw the new venture merged with a tech company, creating Actual Dialogue – the first ad-driven email platform. 

In 2013, Ms Crossan invested in the development of Bloggersclub.com (a content creation, curation and amplification platform representing 400+ bloggers).

Her latest venture, Flossie.com, first launched as a "quiet-time" hair and beauty appointments website in early 2012. Today it boasts thousands of customers and hundreds of businesses, plus investors including the co-founders of Hell Pizza, the team behind Sonar6 and Rob Campbell. And her latest project is Flossie Concierge, an app where women can book hair and beauty services via their mobile. She describes it as an Uber for beauty.

Along the way, Ms Crossan has become a regular speaker at events and conferences. She was a finalist for the Westpac Women of Influence Award 2014, and a finalist for NEXT Women of the Year 2014.

She answered reader questions on Monday November 24.


51 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

51 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Hi Jenene,

Arianna Huffington recently gave a talk in NZ (see Huffington Post founder delivers digital detox tips for A-type Auckland crowd).

She talked about how she literally collapsed from exhaustion, and now maintains a work-life balance for herself, and her staff -- extending to an office area for taking naps during the day.

They were inspirational words, but not easy to folllow day-to-day. How many hours a week do you work? Do you try or are you able to switch off after-hours?

Thanks,
CK 

 

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Chris,

I loved listening to Arianna talk when she was down here. And it certainly made a lot of sense - you have to have fuel in the fire to make it all work.

I try to maintain a pretty healthy lifestyle, I run a lot and do boot camp. I eat well and try to get plenty of sleep. I'm not a saint, by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly get you have to balance it out.

Work hours wise - the reality of these things is that they are all consuming and they do take over. But also don't want to neglect my kids and partner - so make time for everything is the key. This past weekend, after a huge week of investment raising, I took Sunday off in total and ensured that I rested. Feel great for it today!

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene,

Why do you think there are so few female entrepreneurs on the NZ scene?

Who should step in to address it (govt, the private sector, no one) and how should they go about improving the situation?

Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Amanda,

It's funny because I've never really thought about whether there is a lack of them or not - mostly because I know so many of them and feel like I'm very much surrounded by amazing women, doing amazing things.

However, I suspect we get less publicity which doesn't help...

Gender aside, I feel like we could do a lot more at the school level to identify the "kids" who have the entrepreneurial streak in them and help them through. I suspect our education system is going to get a major overhaul in the next 20 years.

Personally I plan on doing what I've been lucky to have happen to me, and be part of that system in identification and support in the future. Once I've cracked these ones, that will likely be my future project.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene,

There are so few venture capital outfits in NZ, but you've had a lot of success getting your startups funded?

What are your top tips for pitching to the likes of the guys at MOVAC?

Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Heidi,

You know, there's not an exact science to it. But there are factors that help, for sure.

I'll give you an example. Last week I held two investor briefings for about 60 people. It was fantastic and we raised some good money. Then I met with someone privately and she invested. Then I met a random person (random to me, that is) after being introduced at a private function, and two minutes later he had invested (and a substantial amount).

If you were to ask them, they'd say it's a combination of desirability (a product that people want in a category they need), feasibility (ability to scale) and capability (the right people to make it happen).

I meet a huge number of people and do a lot of speaking - so being able to engage with people is vital to this. Have to be able to tell the story well and feel very confident in your ability to make it happen.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Are you making money from Flossie at the moment? How many people are signed up to Concierge? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Heidi again,

We cracked 3,000 women using the service over the weekend - delighted. And 160 salons using the technology platform. It's growing quickly (and we're only 2 or so months in).

If we weren't investing heavily in growth, we'd be breaking even. But our focus is on growing this quickly!

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What did you learn from the GFC?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Ian,

Good question. So many things. I have a saying (sorry Chris for the language!), that the GFC "kicked the little shit out of me". I was very young when I started my businesses and as I entered into my 30's and had the GFC force me to make a lot of changes, it was a huge learning curve. At the time one that wasn't so enjoyable, but with hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I got better at listening and taking on board the key thing that I now talk about to other companies "identifying how to fix the pain". Truly understanding what customers need / want and figure out how to deliver it.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What would you do if a manager in your company behaved like Roger Sutton is alleged to at CERA?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hello again,

Hmm, that's a tough one. I don't feel like I can comment on this in regards to that situation as I only know what the media has told me so far.

We often talk about the fine line that is sexism. Gosh I have some stories to tell on that front. It never ceases to amaze me how casual people can be with comments. And I wonder if some people just get fed up and I can understand why having seen so much myself. But I suspect there is more to that story than is being told and being fair to the complainant, I think we can safely assume that it's hideous situation to be put in.

I don't put up with bad behaviour, full stop. I don't deal with politics or nastiness. We have an office full of women and I expect there to be NO gossiping or back stabbing. You act like a responsible, moral and caring person and look out for each other.

So the bottom line is, I wouldn't put up with anything that made other people uncomfortable.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Are most New Zealand companies up with the huge move to mobile for accessing websites? What's been the impact of the rise of mobile on your business?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Olivia,

I think there is a huge divide between what and how customers are using technology in general and companies. Mobile being a major part of that.

We have just undertaken a huge pivot from ecommerce website to mobile platform and within 3 months will not be supporting an ecommerce site ongoing. It's a huge call, but it's the right one to make (for OUR business).

Working out where your customers are and making sure you are there is vital to creating and maintaining customer relationships.
J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Do you have plans to move the Concierge model to other industries?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

That's the BIG question right now, that's for sure.

We are being inundated with people wanting to use our technology. What we have created is a very serious piece of technology.

Our platform connects customers to service businesses. Of any kind. Anyone who sells time of a repeat nature.

It could be mechanics, cleaners, chiropractors, personal trainers` – anyone who wants a continual funnel of customers and customers wanting to easily get something done / taken care of.

What we have done is focus on an industry ripe for disruption. That is the hair and beauty business. Why? Because across Australasia it’s worth between $5 and $7 billion.

Our plan? Earn trust. Develop a foot print. Expand.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene, Does Flossie Concierge have any male users. If so, now many? If not, will you add a version of the service for guys? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Fred,

Flossie is an unapologetically female brand - though there are some men using it (and I can see why - it's so good!).

We are currently working out the best use of the tech from here- horizontally and vertically, because yes, you are right, there are many ways we can do this!

Mike Carden, our chair, has a great analogy here - anyone can create the Uber platform. But not anyone can create their brand. Getting the brand piece right is vital.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene - which party did you vote for on September 20 and why? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Darn, I left this comment to last hoping I would run out of time. You can ask me anything*

*except about politics.

I hate political discussion - particularly in a public space!

But I will tell you that I'm passionate about leadership. You can read my view on that here: http://www.jenenecrossan.com/dear-john/

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Which NZ entrepreneur do you most look up to? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Oh such a hard one. Rod Drury currently is up in my favorites - for many reasons you won't know. Like that he supported our investment briefings last week in his office and came along to meet everyone and get behind us. That he donated an iPad to one of my favourite charities. That he gives up his time to hear how I'm going.

Vaughan Rowsell as well - what's not to like about him? He's become a friend over the years and has been so supportive. He has an awesome attitude and just is the ultimate GSD.

We are very spoilt in NZ with amazing entrepreneurs.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene - I heard you've got a thing against banner ads? True? Why? Thx

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Ha, how long have you got, Mike?

Ultimately (and to sum it up), I don't believe in any push advertising that just interrupts people's day and doesn't add value outside of that. I HATE the metrics it's counted and measured on. We can do better.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Are you going to launch Flossie in Australia or further afield? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Yes and yes!

Now we've just about raised all the funds we were looking for in this round, we're working on our plan to expand.

I can't wait!

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

With the introduction of second-screen experience such as Internet-enabled smart-watches, smart-TVs and many devices, websites development does not only have to develop for mobile and desktop but for watches, health bands, fitness trackers, TVs, virtual reality sets, gaming consoles etc. What are your views of web site development for 2014 in the age of second-screen experience for multiple platforms?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Tony,

I think it pays to not get too overwhelmed by all the options just yet and focus on where the audience is for you now and do that VERY well. The mobile platform for us is the key focus.

We'll certainly look to expand our development focus into other areas like this as we move forward, but as it stands today doesn't overly affect us.

BUT personally I think they're going to be a HUGE part of our future and I can assure you I'll be front of the queue to get one and then introduce our offerings into them. Digital Personal Concierge's will be the way of the future....

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Jenene,

Have you sought or accepted any funding from Callaghan Innovation, or any investment from NZ VIF?

Also, what's your take on companies that accept money from such Crown agencies, then sell themselves to offshore owners?

Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hi Natalie,

Yes, in our first year we received some money (I think about $160k from memory) and that helped us enormously with getting our proof-of-concept up and running. They were great to deal with and I think they add value.

I'm not sure we have much to worry about on the sale side of things. If I sell my business for $100 million (work with me here ;0), to an offshore business, that's $100 million being brought into NZ. I would be investing in people and businesses here, I would be building and buying here. The money would stay here. It would be very short sighted of us to put rules around that.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Should Glassons have been taken to task for its skinny mannequins with ribs showing? Did you agree with critics who said they encouraged eating disorders? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Taken to task how, exactly? Rather hard thing to police, I would have thought. Act with the most powerful thing you have, your wallet. If you don't like them and what they do, don't buy.

No, I don't think they're encouraging eating disorders. I have just as many very skinny (and not through not eating, just being naturally skinny) friends as I do who are not. They both have something to say about it.

Overall, I don't have much of an opinion on it - feels like there are better things to spend my time thinking about. That doesn't mean I don't care about young women - but I feel like I can support them in better ways by encouraging them to think of themselves as more than just 'fat' or 'skinny'. Like intelligent, funny, caring, inspiring, motivated.....

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Traditional companies are nakedly hostile, and you can see why - it offers customers more options, more flexibility and drives down price? They've trashed Uber (incorrectly) for things like it's drivers paying no GST and unfairly competing. As the "Uber of beauty services" have you experienced any kickback from companies that operate in our sector? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Change is hard for everyone. And when big industries get massive disruptive change, it's inevitable that it will rub a few people up the wrong way. But the secret is, if you embrace it, you'll do better than anyone else is. Take any Uber drive on the road in Auckland, ask them how it's going and they will tell you that they are busier and making more money than they were before.

As for our industry that we have first launched in, the businesses built themselves on relying on customers rebooking in advance. But the reality is that customers have changed their behaviour. If they do book in advance, they often cancel or change it. We have one salon that tells us that they see upwards of 30% churn of their diary on any given day.

Some won't embrace it because they are scared of technology. Some won't embrace it because they don't want it to change. But those who have and are working closely with us (a key point here) are seeing exceptional results.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What's the carbon foot print on that big pink Flossie truck?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

It's a diesel. Decidedly less than the car that gets left at home.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

From where you stand, are you seeing a lot of demand for "clean" (non-toxic, minimal environmental impact) beauty products?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Yes, definitely seeing more requests for organic style products (more about what goes into them, as opposed to the environmental impact side - but I suspect that will change over time).

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

In most businesses, most meetings are a waste of time. How do you run meetings? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I agree with you, so many businesses there is meeting fatigue. I won't have meetings unless they have a purpose. I do believe in face-to-face time and the value of it, but also in getting on with it too.

You'll find my meetings are "efficient".

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

There's a whole rash of articles at the moment telling employers how to attract Gen Y or Gen Z staff: let them hotdesk, give them flexibility, let them write reports using nothing but emoji, give them a sleep room made from PlayStation4s etc, give them flexible this, flexible that etc. Do you have any Gen Y or Gen Z youth on staff, and do you treat them any differently? Thanks

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Jeepers, I don't provide any of those things! I was rather impressed with the free vending machine at Xero last week.

But honestly all of that is ridiculous. "Gen Y or Z" are looking for people willing to give them a chance and an environment they can learn from.

I just asked Kelsey, who's 22 and works for me why she came to our office and she said, "the fast paced environment where you're forced to learning and adapting attracted me. I wanted somewhere where I could work the way I act in my life - at pace!"

I think it nicely sums up that they don't have time for corporate attitude or time wasting.

They are incredibly capable and open to trying and doing things. My job is to nurture them and teach them things they don't yet know.

J

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Should NZ have a new flag? Which design? Would our economy be better off if we merged with Australia?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Hmm. Not sure about the Australia bit, would need to spend some time thinking about it. I can't see that ever getting across the line with the general population - we're a pretty proud nation.

On the flag front, I think we need to work on brand NZ to grow into the future and bringing it under a new identity is a form of leadership that can help us achieve that. Obviously it needs to be about more than just changing the flag, but I think there are some very good reasons to do so and if we can get behind it and unite as a team to make it happen - we could be incredibly successful. We've got an amazing nation here capable of and doing so many cool things, I like it when we come together. Watching All Black test matches are a great example of our uniting under our brand together.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What's the number one bit of business advice you'd give Lorde?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Oh good question.

So here's the thing with Lorde (IMHO). She's amazing. Just look at that raw talent and drive. The right team behind her, supporting her and growing her. She's the epitome of a start up brand - great idea, great execution, great people.

Her audience, however, are not as stable. They are rather fickle and change their tastes daily. So Lorde's challenge is going to be able to find enough time in her life to maintain her creative energy to do the 'next thing'. Her audience want more and are hungry for it.

I hope she becomes the next David Bowie of reinvention. I hope she ditches the Lorde name in the next few years and totally reinvests herself. Or expands or evolves it. Very few people are as talented as her to be able to pull this off, but I genuinely think she can. And if she does, her ability to have a sustainable business for her entire lifetime will be extraordinary.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

You're a natural leader. What would you say are the FIVE most important attributes of being an authentic leader?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Thanks Belinda. Might I just say how well you look today ;0)

I would say, 1) being open to change 2) being open to being wrong 3) empathy 4) confidence in your ability to lead others 5) passion and enthusiasm that's infectious.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

(Thanks!). Empathy. Nice. And I can confirm that your passion and enthusiasm IS infectious!

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Thanks everybody and thanks Jenene. The session is now closed to new questions.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Thanks NBR for having me here. And thanks everyone for your questions. My apologies for grammatical / spelling errors - was typing super fast to get through as many as possible! Happy for anyone to tweet more questions @jenene

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.6806 0.0000 0.00%
AUD 0.9006 0.0000 0.00%
EUR 0.5781 0.0000 0.00%
GBP 0.5157 0.0000 0.00%
HKD 5.3229 0.0000 0.00%
JPY 76.2440 0.0000 0.00%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1296.5 15.490 2017-11-17T00:
Oil Brent 62.7 1.370 2017-11-17T00:
Oil Nymex 56.6 1.440 2017-11-17T00:
Silver Index 17.4 0.300 2017-11-17T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NASDAQ 6794.7 6797.8 6793.3 -0.15%
DJI 23433.8 23433.8 23458.4 -0.43%