Photo: Chanel Martin, Candace Mitchell, and Jess Watson
Myavana Hair Analysis System is like no other hair product on the market–really. It uses technology to craft a hair care system just for you. And it was created by an African-American Georgia Tech alumnae in June 2012. So unique and cutting edge is this idea, Candace Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Techturized Inc., whose first product is Myavana, has been crowned the “Modern-Day” Madame C.J. Walker. Mitchell is now running the company on her own after her co-founders’ move to other ventures. And Mitchell continues to make groundbreaking deals.
Now, Myavana has partnered with hair extension company Indique Hair to develop Indique ID, a groundbreaking digital service to be housed in Indique-certified hair salons that will enable hairstylists to analyze and prescribe recommended treatments and hair regimens for their clients.
Mitchell gave TNJ.com the details of the deal and much more.
TNJ: Why do you feel you have been dubbed the “modern day Madame CJ Walker”?
Candace Mitchell: I feel that it signifies a mark of a new era as a trailblazer in the beauty industry. The next huge transformation will be ushered in through technology and personalization. Madame CJ Walker was the pioneer of her time that set the precedence of possibility for women to generate wealth and also opening the doors for future hair product makers over the next century. I am pioneering through the application of technology and opening doors for other women in STEM and entrepreneurship. I also embody and hold a high regard for community development and helping others succeed which is what Walker was also widely known for.
TNJ.com: What prompted you to start your company?
Candace Mitchell: I started the idea for my company when I was going natural and no longer using a chemical relaxer in my hair. My hair was dry and I experienced a lot of breakage from not using the right products and not knowing how to take care of my hair. There are so many products to choose from and it’s hard to know what’s going to work best for your unique hair type & texture. As a computer scientist, I had a lightbulb moment in deciding to solve this problem through developing software that could predict the right products to use on your hair. I was able to actually start the company one year after I graduated from Georgia Tech.
TNJ.com: How did you fund your company?
Candace Mitchell: My company received investment from Flashpoint, a startup accelerator based at Georgia Tech. We also funded our company through pitch competitions, a crowdfunding campaign, angel investors, and family and friends round, as well as an investment from Indie.vc.
TNJ.com: What makes Myavana Hair Analysis System different than other haircare systems on the market?
Candace Mitchell: Myavana brings the science back into the hair care process by eliminating the trial and error that most customers go through to discover the right products. We eliminate the guesswork and create a personalized plan for healthy hair that takes into account your hair’s uniqueness and personal preferences. We’re the first software-driven consumer facing company that can take the science from the hair analysis and create customized options to meet your hair goals.
TNJ.com: What were some startup challenges?
Candace Mitchell: Our company didn’t initially get the traction we expected right away. We started with a hair journey website and then eventually a mobile app, but we didn’t have a supporting revenue model to keep it sustainable. We ran out of money several times and our team dwindled because of the challenges. My co-founders all decided to pursue other opportunities so it took a lot of perseverance for me to continue on and rebuild along the way. We didn’t have our first profitable month until March 2016. As a Black female founder, we’re also severely underfunded even when tackling multi-billion dollar markets. We have to find our own way and create our own path to be successful.
TNJ.com: What was the biggest business lesson you learned?
Candace Mitchell: Stay true to your vision but be willing to pivot along the way when it comes to strategy and product/market fit. Always take in the lesson from every setback and build a strong support system of mentors and advisors to provide wisdom along the way.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?
Candace Mitchell: I enjoy the delight and satisfaction of happy customers and knowing that something we created is actually making a difference in someone’s life. I am also grateful to be able to share the business knowledge that I’m gaining to help other entrepreneurs be successful and make less mistakes.
TNJ.com: What led to your partnership with hair extension company Indique Hair to develop Indique ID?
Candace Mitchell: We have been connected with Indique for a few years and we initially met to explore a hair analysis research project around the integrity and quality assurance of different hair sources. Once I was able to show them our software and how we create personalized hair care plans for customers based on their hair needs and goals, they immediately saw an opportunity to offer the same benefits to their clients. We were also in the middle of launching an on-site model where customers can get a hair analysis done at salons and retail stores so it provided the perfect opportunity to be our first retail partner and expand our footprint into 18 retail locations across the country and in South Africa this year.
TNJ.com: Tell us more about Indique ID.
Candace Mitchell: Indique ID is a white-labeled software system that provides the ability to offer digital consultations, hair and scalp analysis, product recommendations, and hair care education. We also provide real-time business analytics through Indique ID based on the data received from their customers. Consider it the next wave of personalized customer care and data insights for the hair care industry.
TNJ.com: How do you feel technology is changing the beauty world?
Candace Mitchell: Technology is providing the ability to cater to the personalized needs of customers. A one-size-fits-all approach will no longer be the strategy. Consumers are becoming more savvy with the information provided at their fingertips from their mobile phones and want better ways to ensure great performance from the products they buy.
TNJ.com: Are you seeing more African Americans involved in the business?
Candace Mitchell: I am definitely excited to see more African-Americans going into business as access to capital becomes more democratized along with more entrepreneurial programs catered to empower minorities. We’re becoming more equipped to step onto the playing field with the right opportunities.
TNJ.com: Have you faced any particular challenges because you are a young Black woman in the industry?
Candace Mitchell: I believe that I’ve been largely underestimated as a young Black woman in the industry and was certainly ahead of my time starting out. I feel that in the beginning our ideas were seen as “cute and interesting” instead of being taken seriously. I see the tides are turning as technology adoption increases and I’ve been in the industry long enough to demonstrate that I’m not turning back and onto to something truly revolutionary. It takes being able to trust yourself no matter what and keep knocking until those doors open.
TNJ.com: Goals for 2018?
Candace Mitchell: My goal for 2018 is to expand our distribution channels into the salon and retail industry and growth into international markets, primarily South Africa, the UK, and South America. I also plan to continue speaking to entrepreneurs across the country to share knowledge and encouragement as more minorities and millennials decide to start businesses and pursue the STEM fields.
(By Ann Brown)