Beauty platform Bella wins Genesis startup competition

27 June 2024
Male-led startups dominate Australia's startup scene, but two young University of Sydney alumni are looking to beat the odds with their first venture.

Artificial intelligence was the theme of the 33rd Genesis cohort, driving offerings ranging from nutrition and mental health to construction management, but it was a beauty services marketplace that most wowed the judges. 

Bella co-founders Elysée Dubois and Kyana Chan took home the $30,000 first prize for their social discovery and booking platform in the University of Sydney Business School’s biannual startup accelerator. 

The figure will go towards running a beta program in the coming months, which will allow users to book beauty appointments and connect and share salon experiences.  

The co-founders both studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Advanced Studies at the Business School but didn’t meet until they were in the same graduate intake for management consulting at Accenture. 

“The idea was borne from trying to solve a mutual, regular frustration of finding and booking at trustworthy beauty salons,” Chan said.

We’re both very passionate about solving the problem with a product that empowers both women and small businesses.
Bella co-founder Kyana Chan

After doing their own research and discovering high demand for their offering, the pair signed up for Genesis and quickly evolved from a whiteboard session to a rapidly growing business. 

With some of Sydney’s top-rated salons already on the journey as design partners, the platform is being purpose-built from the ground up for the Bella community, with features for both women and salons. 

Besides building and launching their beta platform, the pair aim to onboard more salons, users and, crucially, pre-seed investors – they're hoping to beat the odds, with the latest research showing only 4 percent of venture capital raised in Australia last year went to female-led startups. 

“The Genesis program was a period of exponential growth and learning. The goal nights really pushed us above and beyond what we thought was possible to achieve in such a short timeframe,” Dubois said. 

“The mentorship and guidance allowed us to make rapid progress, to the point where we’re aiming to take what was just an idea at the start of the year and have the first version in users’ hands by August.” 

Genesis program head Matthew Bright said he’s now received over 100 applications for the next cohort – a record for the program. 

“Bella was a crowd and mentor favourite. Elysée and Kyana were a remarkable late addition to the program who executed their goals fortnight after fortnight, benefitted from our new education curriculum and mentor insights, and ultimately brought their A-game on the evening of the finale, from a guerrilla marketing tactic to a flawless pitch that won over the judges,” Bright said. 

“As young founders, it was a pleasure to meet both Elysée and Kyana’s parents and to see them experience the shared joy of their daughters’ progress in the program culminating in winning the $30,000 Genesis Wellness Reimagined Prize and the University supporting their venture in its path to market.” 

Genesis members over the years have secured $52 million in funding, created nearly 1,000 jobs, and the current community boasts over 500 startups involving 1,500 individuals. 

Applications for the next cohort open in mid-July 2024. See here to learn more about the Genesis program and apply to accelerate your startup’s growth. 

Media contact

Harrison Vesey

Media Advisor (Business)

Related articles