Omri Moran was on time for his first date with a girl, but inexplicably the girl was late. She finally arrived but managed to avoid asking why she was late, and Moran recalls her justification: “Don’t worry, you won’t get it.”
Moran, then head of a geo-tracking startup, was not easy to stop, and he went on and found out why: The girl had messed up her new nail polish for their date, and then she tried and it didn’t work.
At the time of dating in 2016, Moran didn’t really get it, but that moment did provide some kind of inspiration for him.
“I’m one of those people who when they see bad things, they just start to think of solutions to it,” Moran said.
Moran envisioned a robotic technique for manicures, and began working on his idea that year, which later became Nimble. The concept, which two startups are working on separately, seeks to offer a simple way to provide guaranteed nail polish. Clockwork and Coral, as well as Moran’s subsidiary Nimpel, have developed distinct technologies and business models to provide customers with a rapid change in paint color.
But don’t skip your regular appointment right now. While the three companies have received significant external funding, the devices are still being tested and modified before they can be fully released on the market. None of the three companies offer a complete nail polish in the salon-style, which usually includes shaping and polishing. However, it could eventually reverse the growing nail care market.
As a market segment, manicures are a target worth pursuing, as the nail care market is estimated to be close to $10 billion, and could reach $11.6 billion by 2027. While the size of the color market alone is untested, investors They find it attractive. And as Julie Bornstein, founder of shopping app Yes that has invested in Clockwork, said the idea resonated because manicures take so long.
“Personally, I don’t like spending 40 minutes going to the nail salon,” Bornstein said.
The technology includes some devices – such as a robotic arm in some cases – to paint nails, with a program based on machine learning to distinguish the nail from the skin around it. Each company uses a different approach, but mainly depends on scanning thousands of nail shapes and creating a database. Cameras inside the devices take pictures of the user’s nails, a process that is repeated every time a manicure is performed even on the same person. While developing this, the three companies tried to reduce the number of moving parts and rely more on software, because the moving parts can break down over time.
Clockwork was the first to enter the market, albeit in a limited way. On May 28, the company opened a street-view store in San Francisco’s Marina District, a phased location expected to be open for at least 6 months. Customers will pay $7.99 to test the device, which is slightly larger than a microwave. The beta opening follows 2019 testing in their office of an earlier form of the device with Dropbox employees, where Clockwork founders Renuka Apte and Aaron Feldstein first met (at the time, the two companies were a few blocks away from each other). ).
The result was the culmination of four years in the business, as Abtie and Feldstein started their company in 2017, Abte says, sifting through nearly 70 ideas before settling on what they called “manicures.”
Their portable device – intended for shops, offices and apartment complexes – includes a table and a combination of computer vision and artificial intelligence for nail polish. Instead of using a robotic arm, their devices include what’s known as a mobile crane, an ancient technique that relies on multiple axes movements and uses them to add nail polish.
They chose the name Clockwork, a play on the word for a penchant for regular manicures with the technical sophistication of watches. The two were working without pay until late 2019, when they took home $3.2 million in their first fundraising round.
Coral, another company trying to transform the beauty salon industry, received $4.3 million in project funding around the same time. But the company’s CEO and co-founder Bradley Leung said that because they couldn’t bring the price down as they had hoped with the current look, they made it only half a robot to cut the cost.
Nimble has combined so-called computer vision to work with artificial intelligence and a robotic arm; For simple 10-minute manicures in a device also close to the size of a toaster. To build brand awareness, the company, which started in Tel Aviv but is now based in New York City, recently ran a Kickstarter fundraising campaign and also secured $10 million in seed funding.
And, as with any robot, there is an inescapable question of whether to replace those devices with functionality. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were 155,300 jobs; With an average wage of $27,870 a year, or $13.40 an hour (before tips). Without any interruption, the expected growth rate is 19%.
None of these futuristic machines shape nails, so this part of salon service has not been disrupted. Apte said she does not expect to lose any job in the salons, because her device will serve as an additional service. Leung also said he doesn’t expect his company’s device to put people off work, because it doesn’t replace a full manicure.