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Marie Behrens: building a Beauty & wellness marketplace with a pan African vision

"Businesses in my industry (wellness and beauty) fail due to lack of capital and support. It is one of the fastest growing service niches in Africa and the second biggest contributor to employment in the informal sector yet remains under served and under funded. "

Marie Behrens Founder and CEO at Kipepeo

Q1:Tell us about your yourself:

Marie Behrens is the founder and CEO of Kipepeo (Mauritius). She is a serial entrepreneur with over 13 years experience developing beauty salons and spa’s internationally, with that skill set and passion for the Beauty and wellness industry she is building a pan African marketplace that provides Beauty and wellness professionals a management and booking solution to optimise their business.

Q2:What does your company do?:

Kipepeo is a SAAS enabled marketplace that provides a management and booking solution to wellness and beauty professionals whilst connecting them to customers.

Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:

My vision is to create equal growth opportunities for Gig workers in Africa starting with the sector I am most knowledgeable in, which is the beauty and wellness industry.

Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:

Our business model is based around growth and traction, we create value first before taking a commission fee on the booking. We use our alternate revenue stream which is Advertisement to build an accessible platform. This keeps us competitive and aligned to our vision.

Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:

I'm still learning everyday, this is the beauty and the curse of entrepreneurship. The main struggle has been building the right team, finding the right co-founders. Then on the customer side it has been building trust. The service is new in the Mauritian market so showing the value it adds to entrepreneurs has been a slow process and is still ongoing.

Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:

Today I know that I should have spent less time and investment on the product and much more time on the problem. You can easily get distracted innovating but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the problem you are trying to solve and for who.

Q7: Businesses come with stress; what gives you the joy to keep you going?:

I believe that once I have failed enough times and made the necessary problem solving changes, I will have built a company that helps change many lives, this is what keeps me going.

Q8: Why do you think businesses fail in your industry?:

Businesses in my industry (wellness and beauty) fail due to lack of capital and support. It is one of the fastest growing service niches in Africa and the 2nd biggest contributor to employment in the informal sector yet remains under served and under funded. The competition is high and the barriers to entry are almost non-existent, entrepreneurs in this industry rely on word of mouth creating high job insecurity.

Q9: What are your 3 priorities right now:

My three priorities are

  1. Gaining traction by providing the marketplace to all Gig workers (carpenters, mechanics, cleaners etc)

  2. Grow other revenue streams

  3. Looking for funding for working capital

Q10: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:

Expanding into the 5 big African countries Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory coast and SA, build strategic partnerships to create an inclusive ecosystem for Gig workers.

Q11: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:

Failing inevitably takes it as lessons needing to be learned to strengthen yourself and to create an impactful business, Fail fast and always fail forward.

Abigayle Marks, Cloud Architect & Blockchain Consultant

I love startups because they have a sincere purpose and incredible founding stories. Founder and CEO of Kipepeo, Marie Behren’s SAAS-enabled marketplace provides a management and booking solution to wellness and beauty professionals while connecting them to customers. With over 13 years of experience developing beauty salons and spas internationally, there is no question that Marie’s skill set and passion will expand Kipepeo into the five big African countries, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and South Africa. The service is new in the Mauritian market and adds a great value. Marie’s passion for the beauty and wellness industry will forever change the pan-African marketplace.

Businesses that create value first before they can earn a success fee, do not have the luxury to neglect the needs of their customers in pursuit of sales and just revenue. It is platforms like Kepepeo that are key custodians of the industry, to bring consistency in the quality of services and products, protect consumers rights to quality and ensure that only the best talent in the industry is represented via the platform.

This established new benchmarks of industry excellence, whilst evolving the industry forward by much awaited industry best practices. Put differently it’s an opportunity to put a method to the madness whilst simplifying the engagements between end-user consumers and GIG workers.

Marie Behrens and the Kipepeo team are geared to open their next funding round in order to scale their platform and avail it to the rest of Gig workers, no doubt they will align to the like-minded partners they need to go with them on this journey to finance their next phase.

Looking at the number of companies across the on-demand economy landscape that have gone on to become unicorns, it is evident that on-demand is the future of work. Especially for technicians, beauticians and other trades including the services aspect. Today’s consumers look for access without the burden of long-term ownership or complex contracting for accessing certain products or services.

There’s an existing gap for Africa-based startups founded by people who understand the industry and grassroots terrain dynamics to step-up platform businesses that bring about sustainability for those who make a living through such industries.

Marie Behrens and the Kipepeo team are responding to a sizeable need by addressing this glaring industry gap. It’s an opportune time for their platform. We look forward to their unfolding success.

Connect with Marie Behrens

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