A panel of eight judges elected hair care technology company, Techturized, the the winner of the 2013 Blacks in Technology Business (BiT) Pitch Competition at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX.
Three of the four Techturized co-founders, Candace Mitchell, 25; Jess Watson, 22; and Chanel Martin, 28, presented eloquently as they described their target: African-American women, who make up just 6% of the population, but drive 33% of sales in the U.S. hair care industry.
The judges unanimously voted for Techturized, a hair care technology company that incorporates science and technology to revolutionize the way women interact with their hair, over their competitors, citing their polished presentation, which was laden with information pertinent to their target market, as a strong sell. The Techturized personalized hair care platform, MadamYou.com, will give women custom recommendations for their hair type and lifestyle.
“I couldn’t have been happier to have been exposed to all three teams,” says Ty Ahmad-Taylor, head of SmartTV services at Samsung Electronics, and one of the BiT Business Pitch Judges. “The winning group provided four key elements in any pitch: the problem that they were solving, the size of the market opportunity, a smart team with appropriate backgrounds and enthusiasm, and a proposed solution within realistic time frames.”
Losing your hair is never fun; especially, when it can be avoided. It happened to Mitchell once. She got her hair colored and permed at the same time and the results were devastating.
“African-American women have a range of hair types, a range of hair experiences and lifestyles. Its really hard to figure out what is personally best for us when it comes to a product or trying a specific style. A lot of times we’ll try a product and it doesn’t work, or there is some type of adverse affect,” says Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Techturized. “We go through a lot of changes too. You might cut your hair, move to a new city, get a new job. There is currently nothing on the market that is personal. You see a lot of general information…,but there is no way to match that information to your personal hair characteristics.”
While attending Georgia Tech University, Mitchell met Watson and Joy Buolamwini in the computer science department where they all were pursuing a computer science degree. They met Martin, a chemical engineering major, while participating in other organizations. The girls learned they shared a passion for hair and the four of them decided to team up to come up with solutions to help women navigate the hairy terrain of ethnic tresses.
Martin and Mitchell graduated and moved to different cities but that didn’t stop the team from meeting on Google Hangouts for three months as they worked out their business plan and applied to the Flashpoint Startup Acceleartor, started by Georgia Tech to foster entrepreneurship and innovation. When they learned they were accepted, Mitchell quit her job as an information technology specialist at PepsiCo. and they all relocated to Atlanta.