Thumbs up for online beauty

Andrea Popovic and her sister Tijuana move into Casey Cardinia Business Hub to develop their online beauty-services portal. 157613_05 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


IT’S a bit of a toss-up what is worse – getting a root canal or plunging into a shark tank.
Malvern entrepreneur Andrea Popovic barely raised a sweat facing a ‘shark tank’ – well, actually pitching her idea to a panel of business people – at the completion of a Casey-Cardinia tech-innovation forum on 2 August.
Ms Popovic beat a competitive field of students and budding businesspeople with her concept for a portal – or online directory – for booking beauty services across Australia.
By chance, she was invited to fill a vacancy in the competition at the last minute.
She won a work space at the recently-opened Casey Cardinia Business Hub, with personalised mentoring, training and networking opportunities for 12 months.
Already selling taekwondo gear in a home-based online business, Ms Popovic and her sister Tijuana were hoping to launch the portal online and as a phone app by October.
She said the directory would help drive internet traffic to beauty specialists, many of whom were not effectively managing their websites or offering online bookings.
“The model itself isn’t revolutionary. There are many online booking services like Uber and Airbnb.
“A lot of people book for services online and related to the idea.”
Ms Popovic found the shark tank judges Mary Agius, Ray Keefe, Simon Maselli and Ron Raju were in a feeding frenzy for the idea.
“It’s really good to get a fresh perspective from someone you can trust and getting a fresh set of ideas,” Ms Popovic said.
“They said, I was actually thinking too small by using just bootstrap funding. They said I could go further and seek a sponsor.”
One of the judges also suggested he could find an app-builder for Ms Popovic at half her budgeted expectation.
Casey mayor Sam Aziz was not deterred that the prize went to a non-Casey resident.
He said Casey’s “aggressive strategy” was to both attract business into the municipality as well as develop local talent.
Both aims created local jobs, he said.