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Could eyelash extensions become a huge market? This robotics startup thinks so

Eyelash expansions have taken off in recent years — particularly in Asia — but the gathering is only so broad. Getting extensions — semi-permanent fibers that are attached to one’s natural eyelashes — can require hundreds dollars and hours in the seat of a lash stylist. There’s always the risk, extremely, of provocation or worse. Little wonder that, even accounting for low-budget thongs that can be applied at home, the market stands at around$ 2 billion, which is too small a market to capture the attention of most venture capitalists.

Luum, a four-year-old, 15 -person, Berkeley, Ca.-based robotics firm, thinks it can change the math — and attract investment — by “exponentially” expanding the market, says its CEO, Philippe Sanchez, who has overseen big series customs, including as a managing director for Starbucks in France.

The way forward, he says, is through robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, which Luum says it’s using to eventually create a robot that that can apply lashes in 20 minutes and, if all runs as projected, will be widely available in beauty shops. More, because lash expansions need to be replaced every two to four weeks as the flogs descend, purchasers will come back again and again.

Right now, there’s a bit of magical deliberation involved, admits Sanchez. The tech currently relies on Epson industrial robots to which a variety of arms and sensors are attached, constituting it inspect a little like something you might see in the dentist’s office. The procedure of applying flogs has been tried out 100 experiences on 25 brave feelings alone. The process currently takes as long as it would to apply thongs by hand, extremely, conveying a couple of hours.

Still, Luum, which has raised $10 million to date from Foundation Capital and others and is about to begin talking with investors about a Series A round, is convinced it has the right team to chase and develop what it sees as a big and underserved opportunity in the beauty space.

We talked with Sanchez yesterday afternoon about the company and its next steps. Our chat has been edited for segment and clarity.

TC: So you are targeting this favourite medicine in what seems like a very fragmented industry.

PS: It’s very popular and more a little undiscovered and yes, it’s very fragmented. The report contains 34,000 flog extension services being offered right now in the U.S. alone, where you’ve got an artist coming over to you and adopting one slam propagation at a time, dipping it in an adhesive, and gluing it to an existing lash, then waiting a few seconds to get the next one and the next one, and 2 hours later, you have amazing flogs that seem unusually natural.

But these are individual lash artists. And we see this as a great opportunity to reinvent the category and take a service that’s already favourite and make it even more popular with high-level execution and a new world-class brand.

TC: So the idea is that you create a label and develop a series of walk-in centers around the country and world where these eyelashes are likely to be robotically affixed?

PS: Correct. We want to leverage our engineering to build our label and propel a bond of studios, as well as to license the technology to people who already sell attractivenes services and products and and offer them a chance to either be much better at what they do if they are lash creators or, if you know, they have a hair salon or a large cosmetic retailer, they are unable[ contributed flogs as an ancillary business ]. They affection the relevant recommendations of returning customers having to come back every month for services, and thong postponements bring them back into their stores.

TC: This obviously compels the same or better accuracy than human paws, together with high safety requirements devoted this hardware is so near to someone’s looks. How does the robot operate right now?

PS: The machine is pretty large and moderately soft and very advanced. There is a bunked just like you would have in a first-class business flight. And the machine nearby that is about the size of a human, and so you is present in the berthed and the machine work overs your face — you have a mask, just like if “youre supposed to” do a manual postponement — and it has a little robotic forearm that does the job of a person but is much faster and more precise than any manual lotion. And it’s very safe. It’s got little prongs in the plastic at the end of these forearms that are very light held by very light magnets because you need only a few grams of troop to operate the lash.

TC: So if there was any type of external incident — an shake or something . . .

PS: . . . the arms literally come because they’re held by these little very light magnets. If you you shake the machine or somebody sneezings, the arms will fall. It starts an environment that simply cannot hurt you, which is critical to the service itself.

TC: Are you licensing anyone else’s tech or building everything in-house eventually?

PS: It’s all built in house. We’re leveraging boosted robots from Epson that are very good at doing precise manipulation and that are fast. But[ as for] IP in the beauty space, there was essentially no prior art, so we have secured a patent already in the U.S and Korea and Australia and[ have] 25 patent occasions around the world that are very broad and provide us with a moat and protection for the company at large.

TC: How much will these robots expenditure?

PS: They will cost about $125,000 or so, but this one-time capital expense can improve productivity of strive by four or six ages, so you’ve basically increased the throughput of one berthed, one slam craftsman, by six. And the machine last-places four to five years.

TC: Plus other costs.

PS: You will have maintenance expenses, but it’s essentially pure margin. For the majority of members of those purchaser busines business, most of the cost get goes into the labor. That was for my experience at Starbucks.

TC: How far away are you from recognizing this seeing?

PS: COVID[ slow-footed us down ], though we can conduct consumer experiments again right now[ as California reopens slightly ], so we’re testing the machine, which is already able to deliver a simple style at about the hurry of a human. And as we continue to develop and work over the next few months and get closer to opening our first studio, the performance of the machines will increase to twice the hasten and three times the hasten and four times the hurry of a human application.

TC: You need more uppercase toward that dissolve. How much are you looking to raise?

PS: A $15 million Serials A. That will allow us to open our first studio and validate the unit financial example, as well as to build our third-generation machine. The uppercase will too be deployed to start to build the foundation of a world class beauty brand.

TC: Who should investors know is on your crew?

PS: The firm was founded by Nathan Harding, who likewise founded the[ robotic exoskeleton explorer] Ekso Bionics, and Kurt Amundson[ who worked with Harding at Ekso Bionics for a decade ]. They’ve got incredible experience and expertise already in the world of advanced robotics, and likewise computer image on personal computers eyesight side.

TC: What’s to keep a company like Dyson from hopping into this market if you’re able to prove there is one?

PS: Some folks will realize that this is an alluring seat and it’s worth looking at, but we’ve got a couple of years on them already.

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