Episode 137
December 20, 2022

Entrepreneurship and Efficacy

with Liz Whitman, Founder & CEO of Exponent Beauty

About this episode

Liz Whitman joins the show today to talk about her journey to becoming the Founder and CEO of Exponent Beauty. Liz spoke about what it was like growing up in New York City as an only child, to building an apparel business with a friend before earning her MBA, working for American Express and Beauty Bar, to building her second startup Manicube, which The Red Door by Elizabeth Arden acquired, to having an aha moment that inspired her to reimagine what truly effective skincare could look like.

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In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

  • (1:54) More about Exponent Beauty, the first skincare system that fully preserves active ingredients for peak effectiveness.
  • (3:14) What it was like growing up in New York City as a kid, and how she grew up wanting to go into environmental chemistry
  • (6:15) Why she chose to go to Harvard for school because it provided a lot of different academic opportunities, and the first few jobs she had that led to an entrepreneurial journey
  • (10:30) How she and a friend started a fashion line together in college and ran it for two years, which began to ignite her entrepreneurial spirit
  • (16:24) Her career journey from working at American Express to Co-Founding Manicube, with her Co-Founder Katina, who we had on Episode 102.
  • (22:30) Where the inspiration came from for Exponent
  • (30:00) The first steps she took begin building the brand, from uncovering the problem to solving it
  • (52:30) Some of the most challenging things she’s had to overcome in building Exponent
  • (57:00) How she built herself a community of founders, and what keeps her going through the tough times
  • (1:01:00) What specific skill sets she thinks makes a great Founder 
  • (1:05:00) Her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and what’s next for Exponent

To Find Out More:



“The intertwining of how your business affects your actual life is just something that's part of the process.”

“Learning by doing is exactly what entrepreneurship is.”

“I have this fascination with what people and culture can actually do in terms of driving impact in a business”

“Being an entrepreneur is a very specific personality type who sees these open doors and these opportunities as they come.”

“We traded convenience and scalable distribution with efficacy.”

“I'm somebody who thrives on getting a product out there and having consumers and seeing how they’re interacting with it.

“You can get sucked up in these reactive tactical needs, and so carving out time in your schedule for the important but not urgent keeps you focused.”

“Be clear with yourself on why you’re doing this.”

“Investors get excited about huge growing categories that can be very profitable and that have logical exits. If you can do something truly differentiated in that space, that's exciting.”

“Being true to why you're doing it. That has to be your north star when times are tough and they will be tough. This is not glamorous at all. There're ups and downs all around”

“Our whole entire premise is taking fantastic ingredients and innovating on form factors. So we're delivering the best clinical results to you.”

Read the transcript

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