Welcome to ManiMe: Beauty Tech Never Looked So Good
As the direct-to-consumer movement has demonstrated, magical things can happen at the intersection of consumer goods and technology, and ManiMe is a clear manifestation of that magic in the beauty space.
I first met ManiMe founders Jooyeon Song and David Miró Llopis when they were students at Stanford Business School taking the StartUp Garage course that I teach. During the two quarters of the class, Jooyeon and David incubated a novel idea: offering a custom fit stick-on gel manicure leveraging a mobile app to 3D model the users’ nail beds. The consumer propositions of speed, convenience, and affordability relative to salon manicures, as well as accessibility to cool nail art were all compelling, and that was before the Coronavirus pandemic added safety to the list!
Trinity participated in ManiMe’s seed round and today we are delighted to share that we are co-leading the series A with our friends at Canaan. Our excitement and conviction around ManiMe is all about the company’s delightful and ever-improving user experience, its excellent market timing, and the unique community of designers it is building.
An awesome product.
The entire ManiMe experience feels unique and highly customized, because it is. If you’ve never used the product before, here’s how it works.
From day one, the founding team has been building and iterating, listening closely to customers and using that feedback to continually make the product better. Their obsession with delighting customers is clear from start to finish with their beautiful website, super cool nail art designs, easy smartphone 3D scan process, stunning packaging and simple-to-follow instructions for a perfect DIY gel manicure from home.
Their hard work is paying off with impressive growth from word of mouth and enviable earned media for a business at their size and stage. Case in point: ManiMe was named a 2020 winner of Allure’s Best of Beauty Breakthrough Awards.
Let’s face it — DIY at-home manicures are having a serious moment. The first case of novel Coronavirus in California was traced to a nail salon and the pandemic has dealt a major blow to the salon industry. One of the core values of ManiMe has always been eliminating the many dangers and downsides of a nail salon experience — chemicals, sanitation, time, inconvenience, cost — which have now only been heightened in the current era of social distancing.
Beyond that, though, ManiMe is well-positioned to capitalize on the broader long term trend toward mobile-first, when-and-where-you-need-it services. Trinity has been investing consistently behind this trend with companies like 10% Happier, Relish, Caliber Fitness, and Zero. ManiMe takes this trend one step further by also incorporating a physical product.
A first-of-its-kind community.
Perhaps the most transformative part of the ManiMe mission is to build a community of nail artists and designers who can use the platform to not only showcase and scale the availability of their unique craft around the world, but also to connect with and support one another. Direct to consumer companies like Minted have demonstrated the power of creating communities for other types of designers, and we are excited for ManiMe to see similar success.
As an example of the power of this community, ManiMe introduced their CARE collection, uniting 11 diverse nail artists to “support marginalized and vulnerable communities” through unique designs that contribute 100% of profits to the Movement for Black Lives Fund and PBA COVID-19 Relief Fund.
In the wake of past national crises, I’ve written about the ways that startups are uniquely positioned to take a stand on important social issues. At a time when all brands are thinking more than ever about their responsibility to drive positive change in the world, ManiMe is setting a beautiful and inspiring example of using the powerful influence of business for good.
With fresh capital, there are many exciting directions that the ManiMe team can pursue as it applies technology to beauty services. We’re proud to provide the rocket fuel to power their ongoing innovation and growth.