Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp says there's one thing competitors can never steal from your business

Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox, April 2012, bi, dngDaniel Goodman / Business InsiderBirchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp.

“You cannot protect anything about your ideas,” says Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp.

Her discovery commerce platform for beauty products has seen its fair share of copycats since its launch in 2010.

As Beauchamp tells the audience Monday at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, after Birchbox began to take off, product sample subscription services quickly started cropping up everywhere.

One such competitor came from the Germany-based Samwer brothers, who are infamous for cloning companies like Amazon and PayPal. Beauchamp says they raised €75 million — or about $US80 million — against Birchbox to launch a European clone of her beauty product subscription service, which they named GlossyBox — “Awesome day,” the cofounder jokes.

While she admits the competition was unsettling at the time, Beauchamp says Birchbox was growing so rapidly, she didn’t have time to focus on the competition. Instead, there was one thing that kept things from falling apart: her company vision.

“One thing that they cannot touch about your company forever is vision, and eventually that really does translate into your brand,” Beauchamp says.

From the beginning, Beauchamp says she and her team knew that the process of discovering beauty wasn’t enjoyable for all customers. Over time, that vision evolved and matured, Beauchamp says, and continued to drive the business forward.

“We realised that our idea was so much bigger than what we initially thought, which is that there are a majority of women who are nobody’s priority in the category of beauty and that … we can obsess over her, we can prioritise her,” she tells the audience.

“All of that has allowed us to stay focused on what we know how to do, and then as all of the competition continues to come into the playground, we understand it best, and I feel like they’re coming in and we’re going to high school,” Beauchamp says.

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