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Society of Women Engineers

Engineer Entrepreneur: Asmau Ahmed

Asmau Ahmed is an engineer entrepeneur and founder of the Plum Perfect app that reads a photo of you and recommends the proper makeup.

Published On: March 2016

A letter to my fellow women engineers.

Dear SWE members,

When I was asked to write this blog, I said yes immediately because I felt like I would finally be able to speak to an audience that understands me.

Asmau Ahmed

Asmau Ahmed

My name is Asmau, I am an engineer and the founder of a venture-backed technology company called Plum Perfect.

Can you guess what Plum Perfect does?

Plum: a universal color that complements almost anyone

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Perfect: used to imply precision

Here’s what I tell our investors we do:

“Plum Perfect uses color and data from your mobile and social photos to help your shoppers make informed purchases and sellers produce effective advertising.”

The words ‘data’, ‘shopping’ and ‘advertising’ = $ so this works perfectly for investors.

For you, here’s what we do: Plum Perfect is a color correction, extraction and recommendation engine that “reads” the colors in a photo and, based on a rule engine ideal, delivers a recommended product match.

I am a chemical engineer by training and an innovator at heart ‹like I’m sure most of you are. What gets me really amped up is operating at the intersection of technology, business and innovation. It was partly my desire to create something that left people wondering, “Why hasn’t this been done before now?” that led me to create Plum Perfect.

The other part was a simple problem that desperately needed solving: maximizing my time. I had absolutely no interest in shopping, browsing through tons of products, or window shopping to find what I needed. I craved a way I could pick up shoes to match a dress in my closet, or buy makeup I could wear to a networking event without spending hours browsing in a store or online. So I thought, “How great would it be if I took a photo of that dress and instantly found the right shoes for it? Or a photo of my face to instantly pinpoint the perfect foundation for my skintone?”

Fast forward a few years later, I got my MBA, built a prototype, and then I joined an accelerator program called Astia and through their network got my first infusion of capital from Kapor Capital.

It’s been an exciting journey with many crazy highs and just as many depressing lows. The opportunities and challenges varied as I grew the business. Initially, it was building the technology and a MVP for consumers. Then it was making money. Then it was raising capital. Managing a board and investors and a family. Being a mom, a wife, and a CEO of a tech company is no easy walk in the park, but it’s also exciting and liberating because I get to create, innovate and break boundaries. I’ll take that any day over a walk in the park.

After several years we now have a presence in 150 countries (yay!) and a growing user base. Growing because you are going to download our beauty app now.

So stop reading: click here and download.

Done? Perfect. You’ve now earned the next paragraph. 🙂

Some advice for budding women entrepreneurs:

Get a plan.

Clearly define what success means to you and create a very detailed plan to get there. Is success making money? Great! How are you going to monetize your idea? Who is going to buy it and why would they?

Get a partner.

I did not, so believe me when I tell you that you need someone to share the highs with (it’s so much sweeter!) and pull you up from the lows (it’ll be so much less depressing).

Get a mentor!

To do this successfully, you have to complete #1. You want to identify someone that will usher you to “your” success.

Get started!

Stop procrastinating. The greatest ideas have seemingly insurmountable barriers: solve them. It’s not about how great the idea is (I bet someone had the Plum Perfect idea before me) it’s about how well you execute. I can’t wait to read all your success stories!

With warm wishes,

Asmau

Sponsored by:
Brown – Executive Master
SWE – Diverse Podcast