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Foundermade Acquired, Planning Expansion and IRL Trade Shows

The trade show business pivoted during the pandemic and is said to have tripled profits.

Beauty and wellness trade show Foundermade has been acquired by Tarsus Group.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources said Foundermade tripled its profits between 2020 and 2021, and is expected to triple again in the next two years.

For several years before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, Foundermade was a go-to trade show for emerging beauty and wellness brands looking to spotlight their products for buyers, media and investors. During the pandemic, Foundermade pivoted toward educational content and curated product boxes that it sent out to retailers, press and influencers, as well as virtual educational and networking events.

“In order for us to scale its mission, we need to partner with a business that’s grown massive event companies all around the world,” said Meghan Asha, founder and chief executive officer of Foundermade. “They have 30 years in business of running the best trade shows in the world, and what we’re excited about is they don’t have a beauty vertical, they don’t have a wellness vertical, and we’re partnering with them to help build out that vertical and scale our shows.” 

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Tarsus, backed by private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners, operates trade shows in health care, aerospace, travel and manufacturing. As the company works to scale in health care, it also recently acquired a digital health company called BodySite, that will be in the same division as Foundermade.

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Going forward, Foundermade’s plan is to bring back in-real-life trade shows in New York and Los Angeles in 2022, and to consider expanding to other cities, and potentially internationally, Asha and chief operating officer Lauren Everhart said. “There are a few key cities that we know are experiencing significant growth in the tech and d-to-c space,” said Everhart, ticking off the Bay Area and San Francisco, as well as Austin, Texas, and Miami as potential locations for future trade shows. 

Some of the things Foundermade did during COVID-19 will continue on with the business, Asha said. Beyond creating “show in a box” product boxes, “we also realized that we could become the place for b-to-c education, so we created a d-to-c executive summit,” Asha said. That virtual experience featured tech partners, including Shopify, and was meant to help brands build out their online businesses. 

“Our d-to-c executive summit that we turned into a virtual series, we’re bringing that live,” Everhart said. The company will also continue its virtual “Power Hour” series,  she noted. “We plan to bring that and continue that virtually in 2022 and beyond,” Everhart said.

Everhart noted that the business plans to go further into services, too, and help brands create access to retailers, distribution and press. 

Asha said her vision is to build Foundermade into a global brand. “My dream when we started this business was to become the CES for the cosmetics industry,” she said. “Because there’s been so many beauty shows that have gone out of business in the midst of the pandemic — we were friends with all of them, we love them — it’s been such an interesting thing to watch trade shows evolve. We think we can be the leader and basically take market share in these very key industries, the beauty, wellness and health space, and become a global brand.”

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