3 Lessons Latina Founder Agustina Sartori Learned While Building GlamST And Being Acquired By Ulta
When Agustina Sartori started GlamST she did it because it aligned with her passions.
“As a Telematics engineer, I wanted to solve the problem of trying makeup anywhere, anytime and as well use technology to find the perfect product for you without having to actually try it on in the traditional way, but virtually,” explains Sartori.
GlamST’s artificial recognition technology allowed users to try on makeup virtually, whether through an app or in-store experience.
With a team split between Uruguay and the West Coast, Sartori knew that it’d be important to have a grounded mission for her company, so that everyone from employees to potential partners understood what her vision was. She wanted a brand that celebrated her Latinx roots, her passion for technology, and her interest in using technology to find beauty solutions.
“I was always more of a tech person than a beauty person,” explains Sartori. “I wanted to be able to create something…as an engineer you have the chance to create, to build, to innovate – you just need your computer and your brain. That opens a world of possibilities and opportunities to anyone no matter what country you live [in] or your socio-economic background.”
Her determination to build on a vision she trusted opened GlamST to opportunities with brands like Ulta Beauty, which would later go onto acquire GlamST.
“I liked working with Ulta as a partner and I always thought there was something special about the leadership team so exploring options such as an investment or and acquisition was something that I felt would allow us to generate the technology and impact at large scale,” explains Sartori.
Between the acquisition and taking on a role as Ulta’s Director of AR Innovation, Sartori turned to mentors in the space to help guide her. She also credits the presence of other Latinas in the room with helping her feel seen and understood during the acquisition process.
Below Sartori shares pieces of advice for other Latinas who are navigating the startup space with their own ideas.
Trusting your idea is the starting point for pursuing profitability and scalability
“Startups are a lot about having clear where you are heading and what’s the next goal you should target,” explained Sartori. “I always felt very strong about the direction of the company and visualized the path from Uruguay, living in Chile, from Chile dreaming with San Francisco, moving to San Fran, raising money and working with world class clients in the US.”
Committing to the idea and projecting yourself into a future can help you outline the goals you need to tackle in order to get your company where you want it to go.
“I deeply believed that if we wanted to grow and be successful, we needed to be in United States, understand the market, network, meet the right people, and play in the first league but always keeping our high tech team in Uruguay,” added Sartori.
You need to define your own ‘why’ before someone defines it for you
Knowing what she wanted from GlamST helped Sartori draw a clear line into what she was and was not willing to negotiate.
“I would say understand well why you want to start a brand, what you stand for, what you are passionate about,” encourages Sartori. “There are a lot of companies and new brands out there so you will need to hustle, be innovative and unique to be competitive. There will be hard times, moments you will want to give up – and those are the moments you go back to your essence, why did you start and why should you keep on doing this.”
Hold on to your champions in the space
Before Sartori decided to sell GlamST to Ulta Beauty, she was Ulta’s AR partner and it was in navigating that partnership that she figured out how essential it was to hold on to those who champion your mission and understand your vision.
“It was the first time I went through an acquisition process, so I was lucky to have one of my investors mentor me through the process in our conversations. This allowed me to handle the acquisition conversations directly with Ulta Beauty in a very authentic way,” explains Sartori.
Sartori adds that it also made a big difference to have someone in the room she could relate to when it came to her Latinx upbringing.
“Maria Salcedo, another Latina was leading Corporate Development at the time, I look back and I do think that it was unique that both of us as Latinas helped build bridges within our teams to make a successful acquisition and new partnership happen where our culture and values played an important role in it,” shares Sartori.
Ultimately, for Sartori it’s important that anyone who is deciding to pursue a career that is aligned with their passion do so because it’s who they authentically are motivated to be.
“Be passionate, be authentic and be honest,” encourages Sartori. “It’s about the people behind the businesses and you want to create relationships along the way that push you forward, that allow you to take that next step, that are going to be there for you. I believe authenticity and trust then allow you to build a great team, to get investment, to have clients buy your products and ultimately to make an exit because people believe in you and what your team built and most excitingly what you and your team can create. When that happens, for me, it’s everything — it’s the reason why I started.”