50. Birchbox

Subscription e-commerce for beauty samples

Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, co-founders of Birchbox
Source: Birchbox
Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, co-founders of Birchbox

Founders: Katia Beauchamp (co-CEO), Hayley Barna (co-CEO)
Date launched: 2010
Funding: $71.9 million
Industries disrupted: Consumer Goods, Fashion, Retail
Disrupting: Avon, Macy's, Amazon
Competition: JustFab, Citrus Lane, NatureBox

For years, women discovered new beauty and skin-care products by occasionally snagging samples when they purchased their favorite items. Birchbox founders and former Harvard Business School classmates Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna discovered a better way.

Birchbox is a subscription-based service that sends out monthly boxes of four to five sample-sized beauty, grooming and lifestyle products from a wide range of companies. The service costs $10 a month, and the items in each box are selected based on a user's customer profile. The monthly samples are meant to help consumers discover best-of products to incorporate into their daily beauty routines—and to inspire the purchase of full-size items, which can be done from the company's Birchbox Shop.

Read MoreFULL LIST: 2014 CNBC DISRUPTOR 50

Since launching in 2010, the company has grown to more than 800,000 active subscribers in the U.S., France, the U.K. and Spain. The company launched Birchbox Man in April 2012. In April, when it snapped up a further $60 million in second-round venture funding—from a group that included Glynn Capital Management, Aspect Ventures and Accel Partners—the company was valued at $485 million.

On the company's disruptive impact:

"You can purchase anything that you love, so it’s the whole 360 degrees of discovery, and that’s really what we thought was missing. It’s hard to discover beauty. There are thousands of products." -Katia Beauchamp, co-founder

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