- Sharmadean Reid, is the founder of female-centric business publication The Stack World.
- The company is on track to hit 10,000 paying subscribers in the next year and calls Audrey Gelman an investor.
- This is part of Insider’s series Star, Rising which highlights early-stage companies and entrepreneurs that are gaining popularity.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Name: Sharmadean Reid
Location: London, England
Business: Peruse some of the notable global women’s magazines, like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, and you’ll notice a lack of business and financial news geared toward their readers. There’s a hole in the market, despite 252 million women who call themselves entrepreneurs, and Sharmadean Reid is trying to change that.
Reid launched her news The Stack World in March as a way to deliver in-depth news and economically empower female entrepreneurs. The Stack World reports on beauty, business, culture, society, and wellness, with recent pieces on the misogynistic history of soccer and how Britney Spears’ conservatorship highlights the economic abuse of women. It also hosts a marketplace and sells tiered memberships, which range between £1 ($US1.30 ($AU2)) and £9.99 ($US13.60 ($AU18)), for access to a weekly newsletter and virtual events.
“The jump from reading Cosmopolitan to reading Financial Times can be quite big,” said Reid, a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. “How can we prime the next generation of entrepreneurs for long-term wealth creation?”
Growth: The Stack World has amassed nearly 1,000 paying members since its launch and is on track to reach 10,000 in the next year, Reid said. In the last three months, visitors to its business section have increased 90% week-over-week. Additionally, the company has hosted over 200 events since March with a combined total of nearly 4,000 attendees.
Before The Stack World: In 2009, Reid created the nail salon chain WAH Nails London, which she ran for 10 years before closing operations. She did so to focus on BeautyStack, which she launched in 2017. It was a booking platform that connected 2,000 beauty professionals with more than 20,000 clients. Reid raised nearly £4 million ($US5.5 ($AU7) million) in a funding round led by Index Ventures for BeautyStack and has since rebranded and expanded the platform into The Stack World’s marketplace.
Challenges: Reid’s biggest hurdle was realizing her vision for BeautyStack could no longer come to fruition due to the pandemic. With lockdowns in place, many beauty businesses around the world closed. While she was able to pivot it into The Stack World, it wasn’t her original vision for the company.
“It was coming to terms with how that felt as a leader – to let go of something you were so obsessed with,” she said. “I had to evolve and do something different.”
Business advice: “Coming up with the product is only half the work,” Reid said. “The most important thing is to think about customer acquisition.”
Business mentor: Gelman, who invested in BeautyStack in 2018, gave Reid advice on both The Stack World and navigating the world as a female entrepreneur. Reid also calls Henry Davis, former president of Glossier, a mentor. “Both have taught me to trust myself,” she said.
Why is now the best time to start a business? Reid says the UK government has made it “quite friendly” to invest in startups right now. For example, the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Future Fund encourage investments in small companies. Overall, there is an entrepreneurship boom in the country, similar to the one here in the US, she said.
However, little capital goes to women of color in the UK. Only ten Black female entrepreneurs this past decade have received VC funds, with zero receiving late-stage funding, according to a report from the nonprofit entrepreneurial organization Extend Ventures. Additionally, Black entrepreneurs in the UK receive only 0.24% in funding capital. The numbers in the US are pretty grim, too. “That needs to change,” Reid said.
On hiring: Reid hasn’t struggled with hiring people for The Stack World. She currently has a team of 12 with editorial contributors from top papers including The Guardian and Elle Magazine.
Paul Rasmussen, former head of Burberry’s user experience, is head of product, while Laura Weir, former senior editor of the Sunday Times and British Vogue, consults on editorial. “In the age of entrepreneurship, a lot of people want to start their own thing,” Reid said. “But it wouldn’t hurt people to join other people – to walk with another founder and learn.”
Managing burnout: She experienced burnout for the first time last year as she sought to pivot BeautyStack. Reid began reserving time to be around nature; driving to the English countryside to read a book on philosophy.
“The main thing is reconnecting with my life’s purpose,” she continued. “If you know you’re doing something for something bigger than you, it helps you stay aligned and motivated.”