Sci & Tech

Health, Beauty Startup Taps Into Lucrative Business

Auto & Tech Desk
Health, Beauty Startup Taps Into Lucrative Business
Health, Beauty Startup Taps Into Lucrative Business

The second-biggest cosmetics market in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia, Iran was grossing $3.5 billion in 2014, a figure that did not include perfumes.

As the country gradually opens up to the world economy, the figure is expected to triple by 2019, Euromonitor reports.

This is mainly because some of the best-known cosmetics brands seek to tap into this large, lucrative market.

In May 2015, while working as marketing director of the consumer products division of the French cosmetics company L'Oréal, Nazanin Sammaknejad, was also closely studying the needs and demands of Iranian women.

"I saw a product gap in the market," she says, "where many of our women were looking for educational tips in beauty and cosmetics."  

With the Internet use booming in Iran, the gap gained in visibility.

There were no online businesses dedicated to the needs of women in this area, "especially a trustworthy one that would sell beauty products of high quality with an overall presentable image", she said.  

That's how the idea for a new startup named Ruban was formed.

Sammaknejad, the CEO and co-founder of Ruban, said the main aim was to create beauty-related content for women looking to educate themselves on how to use the products and how to get a certain look.

"At the same time it, would offer the original products that could be purchased online," she said.   

Ruban is currently a group of platforms, which for the main part, target women in particular. The main website,, offers a variety of cosmetics and beauty products and a range of accessories. It got 30,000 hits in April, according to SimilarWeb.

In addition, the group's online magazine makes available educational content on beauty and wellbeing.

Whether you are looking for a gym, photo studio or even a dermatologist, lists all such businesses.  

After completing her bachelor's degree in pure mathematics from Iran's Shahid Beheshti University, Sammaknejad went on to study international business management at Britain's Surrey University. She was also formerly a brand manager at multinational consumer goods company Unilever.

Ruban started with three people and has now grown into a 20-person team. It currently includes a logistics team supervising imports, warehousing and deliveries.

There is the customers' service team, which according to the CEO, is the most important wing and has, from the start, been the main focus of the company. Ruban also has a studio where digital content is created and photos and videos are shot.

"High-quality pictures and well-explained content are keys to a successful online shop," Sammaknejad explains.

Aside from that, the web design and development team also constantly work on technical matters and design.

According to Sammaknejad, the winning points of the website are primarily its brand image and its dedication to improving customer services.

"We offer gifts upon purchase and our packaging is very presentable. We also try to keep our educative material up to date," she adds. Ruban's biggest business partner is Zarsima-ara, the exclusive importer of L'Oréal products in Iran. The latter also imports other globally acclaimed health and cosmetics brands such as Maybelline and Garnier.  

"The company also works with one of the biggest ecommerce companies in France," Sammaknejad says.

As for promotion, Ruban has invested in content and social media marketing.

Sammaknejad believes "word of mouth" is currently the most powerful PR medium in Iran and the group's next strategy is to use digital ads. Asked about major competitors, Sammaknejad explained that other websites like also focus on beauty, "but our image is different, such that we directly import and are authorized representatives of some of the brands sold by us".

Sam Geranpayeh, the company's brand manager and marketing coordinator, also commented that Ruban's long-term goal is to grow as a community that can engage and work with a large loop "that is currently our audience".

Geranpayeh noted that launching Ruban's mobile application is also one of the short-term plans of the company.