Nail polish and manicure services are a big business. It’s approximately a $120 billion global market. Almost $8.5 billion was spent on US nail salon services in 2018 and approximately 100 million women in the US paint their nails at least once every month according to Statista, but the market hasn’t changed in decades until recently.
Historically, big beauty conglomerates such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Shiseido have not given the nail category much investment or attention compared to other higher margin verticals like skin care and color cosmetics which tend to be driven by more innovation. However, that didn’t deter VC interest in the nail category which has received quite a bit of funding in the past 3 ½ years. Notable raises include Coral, which is a YC-backed autonomous nail painting device currently in development that raised $4.3M, Nailbot by Preemadonna, which is a smartphone-connected nail printer that raised $7.2M, and ManiMe, which is a custom-fit faux stick-on nails company that uses 3D scanning technology that raised $8.6M, and Olive & June, a luxury nail care and polish brand that offers kits raised $3.5M. The largest seed round of funding to date is for a nail company called Nimble, an autonomous manicure device. The team received $10 million in seed investment from VC firms LionBird, Entree Capital, IBI-Tech Fund, and Aristagora.
Nimble has also received most backers for a Kickstarter campaign in the nail category and is also one of the most successful beauty campaigns on Kickstarter – in less than 2 weeks, its campaign surpassed $1M pledged by backers and is still going strong. On the first day of its Kickstarter campaign, Nimble hit its funding goal of $25,000 within 11 minutes exhibiting incredible demand for its device. It is now featured on Kickstarter’s Favorite Projects. Given its clever positioning and strategy, it is likely to create the biggest disruption in the industry.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Nimble is co-founded by tech executives Omri Moran, Ron Miller, and Avichay Mor-Yosef. They founded the company after their success in mechanical engineering and global software companies such as KitLocate, which Moran and Miller co-founded and which was acquired by Yandex.
CEO Omri Moran was inspired to start the company after waiting for his date who was late because of a manicure. She left her salon appointment before her manicure was completely dry resulting in ruined nails —so she had to run home to try to fix her brand new, smudged nail polish. Sadly “fixing” the problem only made it worse, so she ended up removing her manicure. When Omri heard about all this manicure drama, a lightbulb went off. “What if there was an autonomous manicure device that could quickly paint and dry nails?” he thought. And so, the early concept for Nimble was born, a device that could hack the nail industry by providing efficient, accurate manicures in a quarter of the time it usually takes. By the way, that late date? She is now married to Omri and Nimble’s biggest fan!
With 20 patent applications and granted patents protecting its tech innovation in US, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, and China as well as other major countries around the world, plus more patents being filed, Nimble’s cutting-edge technology utilizes machine vision, high-resolution micro-cameras, and 3D image processing to scan the size, shape, and curvature of each nail. Then a tiny robotic arm communicates with complex algorithms to seamlessly paint with the precise amount of polish for a perfect, professional-looking manicure. Each nail gets a base coat, 2 coats of polish, and a top coat while a warm airflow system concurrently dries your nails. Nimble paints and dries each hand in 10 minutes.
Like Nespresso, the Nimble device works with recyclable capsules that can be ordered via subscription or individually. Each capsule set includes a base primer, color, and top coat, and the formulas in the capsule are “clean beauty” formulas which are nontoxic, vegan, and 13 free. In addition to basic staples of nudes, bare shades, and reds, there will be an evolving collection of fashionable colors in stock. The capsules will retail for $10 each and will last for 3 manicures, depending on the length of nails. Since manicures in most parts of the US cost approximately $15 to $25 and typically take 1 hour and may involve making a reservation in advance, this device will be very popular for its affordability and convenience.
In yet another clever move, Nimble’s AI tech is also inclusive, since Moran made sure to ensure that it works for darker skin tones too, unlike many of the beauty tech AR virtual try-on technologies that are racially biased and only work for lighter-skinned people.
Nimble is WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled, which means consumers will have access to the latest software updates on your device. Additionally, the Nimble team is currently working on cutting application time in half, adding nail art, and more. In true tech fashion, Nimble is constantly evolving.
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