SQIN × Sophia Tran
Sophia Tran describes herself as a cosmopolitan with a passion for tech. She quickly realized that her heart beats for tech startups — and decided to invest in them herself. One of them: SQIN.
Looking at Sophia’s Instagram profile, her three favorite subjects catch your eye immediately: TECH | TRENDS | TRAVEL.
Especially her interest in the first two was sparked early on. So she decided to study electrical engineering — the first step up her career path. During her time as a reporter for “Galileo” and “Abenteuer Leben”, she also focused on technology trends.
Today, she invests in tech startups herself and has also decided to invest in SQIN. We spoke with her about this decision— welcome to the #SQINfamily, Sophia!
Sophia, you are partner and authorized signatory at DIGITALHUB.DE. What exactly does that mean for your daily work — and how would you describe yourself beyond that?
DIGITALHUB.DE is a start-up incubator and accelerator from Bonn. That means, we support digital start-ups with investments, our infrastructure (a co-working space, e.g.) and network them with economy, science and other investors. There, I am primarily responsible for PR, marketing and communications, but also for partnership management. That means I also take care for our shareholders and stakeholders. In addition, I am the authorized signatory (in other words: the corporation’s deputy managing director). I have already been there for 4 years — my longest post so far.
In the past, I have tried a lot of things. I’ve worked in agencies, for a luxury group representing cosmetics brands, in business consulting, as a reporter and for a publisher.
Now I’ve realized that it’s time to invest in tech startups myself.
That’s why you’re aboard with us now, too, and we’re delighted about that! What do you particularly like about the idea behind SQIN?
SQIN meets a specific need that everyone has. I think the product is just really ingenious, because the target group is totally wide-ranging. So it’s by no means a niche product and not just limited to Germany, but has the potential to succeed internationally as well.
At the moment, beauty start-ups are popping up like wildfire. SQIN stands out for me — because it’s more than just beauty. You have redefined personalization for yourselves. You don’t develop the millionth new product, but use what’s already there — sustainability through personalization, you could say.
What I also find really exciting is that the product itself is quite simple to use. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of technology behind it and the app is very much data-driven. This also allows the business model to scale very well.
Last but not least, the app’s appearance is great. The name, design and customer journey stand out positively from the beginning on.
We are excited to hear that! Actually, what was the main reason for you to invest in SQIN?
For me, it’s very much about the people behind the start-ups. The product can be as good as it is: if the founding team can’t communicate the idea well and has no drive, I’m not convinced.
When I met Maria, the founder, I was hooked even before I saw anything else. You could say it was kind of love at first sight. There was an immediate connection between us.
The overall package also convinced me in the end. Maria always kept me up to date on the current state. Everything sounded totally structured and professionalized to me, like a really good business plan. And at the same time, I also had the feeling that I could help well with my expertise.
And more generally spoken, what do you watch out for when it comes to your start-up investments?
Generally, I only invest in tech startups that develop digital software or hardware.
They should also have scalable models, so preferably no niche products — international potential is important to me.
The products should be innovative, but still market driven. That’s why I think it’s really important to keep an eye on the competition.
However, for me, the founding team and its personalities come first — that’s what has to convince me in the end.
Looking at your role as an investor and business angel, what do you consider it to be? How do you support the start-ups you invest in?
Of course, as the name implies, I invest money. However, I’m still young, so we’re not talking about gigantic sums here.
Therefore, the much bigger investment for me is to share the experience I have gained. I have a really big and broad expertise, especially internationally. Since I travel a lot, I’ve also seen a lot of trends and generally inform myself about what’s currently in.
I also have a special perspective on marketing, brand building, customer journey, PR and social media because I have been involved in many areas myself.
In addition, I bring along a strong network. I can give good intros to well-known personalities from television, business, science or politics.
I see it as my task to accompany the start-ups from the beginning and also through the next financing rounds. I know them very well from the HUB and know what to look out for.
It is also very important for me to always be available for the start-ups. If something is urgent or I need to quickly look at a design or similar, they can simply text me. What I don’t need, on the other hand, are weekly reports.
What do you think are the biggest trends we can expect in the beauty(tech) industry in the future?
I think you have to distinguish between decorative and care cosmetics. In the decorative area, trends almost change seasonally, whereas in skincare they don’t do as quickly.
What is definitely noticeable is that young people are becoming more and more intensively involved with skincare. They don’t just put whatever cream is cheap on their face anymore. Therefore, a lot will happen especially for this target group!
What is also becoming more and more important are accompanying skincare accessories, such as jade rollers and beauty fridges.
But I think apps and platforms will also increase. Especially with the pandemic, but also like this, online shopping will continue to become more and more popular. The integration of AI, but also personal advice, will also play a role there. At some point, human experts will certainly be replaced by digital ones as well. SQIN is definitely on the right track and a real pioneer!
I think apps and platforms will also increase. Especially due to the pandemic, but also just over time, online shopping will continue to become more and more popular. The integration of AI and personal advice will also play a big role there. At some point, human experts will certainly be replaced by digital experts as well. SQIN is definitely on the right track!
One last question: what is your wish, your vision for the future of SQIN?
My vision is the same as always: to rule the world! (just kidding)
But seriously, I can already see that an incredible number of users are jumping on board. I hope that the app will continue to grow — not faster, but more.
SQIN should become THE beauty app in Germany, then also in D-A-CH. But it should also establish itself internationally. Germany is not so quick to try out digital innovations, but things are very different in Asia, for example.
Basically, my wish is that in the future, when people have skin problems or want a cosmetic consultation, the very first thing they think of is SQIN.