One-line solution summary:
Using crowd-sourced data, THE MOST designs new technology to address the nuanced issues associated with ethnic hair maintenance and styling.
Pitch your solution.
THE MOST makes textured hair styling fast and easy. With 60% of women having textured hair, and NO tools on the market that make the styling process simple, THE MOST Mint was designed to fill a void in an industry primed for innovation. The MOST Mint is a sleekly designed, easy to use system, with all elements of the textured hair styling process that usually includes brushes, combs and liquid products. THE MOST Mint is the Keurig of the hair industry and addresses a $500B market with the best IP, product development and cosmetology pros in the region. Most women with natural hair spend 2-8 hours styling every time they wash. This process affects the quality of life for individuals with textured hair in ways mainstream beauty is oblivious to. THE MOST is changing the way women with textured hair - and Black women in particular interact with their world.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
Many women with textured hair—and women of color in particular—struggle to style and maintain their natural hair. It’s a time consuming, complicated, and frustrating process that for some women, can take up to 8 hours spread over multiple days. Over the past decade we have seen a marked increase in availability of quality liquid products for curly and textured hair, but hair tools and appliances are still limited to straightening devices (flat irons, hot combs, curling irons, etc.) which are notoriously damaging to textured hair and completely ineffective for curly styling.
Women with textured hair spend 9 times their non-textured counterparts on hair products and services while their most pressing pain points go unaddressed. While our designs are applicable to the entirety of the 60% of women with textured hair, we are particularly encouraged by our products’ relevance to the underserved LatinX and African American market, both o f which over index on hair spend. The LatinX market has been branded as the “foundation” of the beauty and haircare industry by Neilson and has grown 167% since 2000. We have an opportunity to fill a gaping whitespace in this market.
What is your solution?
THE MOST has identified the biggest pain points in natural, textured hair styling is designing tools and appliances that made the process of product application easy. Our designs cut styling time by at least half and allow users increased mobility. We take a formerly static hair care routine and make it possible to travel and style efficiently on-the-go.
The Most Mint is a sleekly designed tool that offers consumers an easy and fun way to apply hair products and perform hot oil treatments faster without the mess. Our Mint tool uses an internal heating element to warm conditioners, gels, moisturizers, and oils before they are applied to your hair, increasing penetration and effectiveness. The product is designed to allow users to perform mess-free product application and home hot oil treatments for quick, efficient maintenance and styling. THE MOST Mint empowers women of color to embrace their natural hair by cutting styling time, increasing convenience, and minimizing the invisible pain points in ethnic hair care.
Our tools leverage patent pending disposable product cartridges allowing consumers to style quickly with no mess and cost-effectively sample different products from different brands. Our pods offer a high-margin, high-convenience option for retailers and consumers alike.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our technologies are meant to serve the 90M women in the US with highly textured hair. However, our target audience is Black women—chronically underserved consumers. We will gradually expand to other communities including LatinX, Arab, North African and Jewish communities, before we target a broader international market.
Natural hair styling affects Black women's ability to get, keep, and move up in our jobs; our ability to workout and stay healthy; our hygiene and wellness; and our deepest feelings of self worth. Making natural, textured hair styling easier and faster would not only free up hours per week for women of color everywhere, it would have massive effects on our overall well being and quality of life. Specifically making exercise and travel life-changing.
We leverage our interactive community, THE LOOP, to gain insights on and build buy-in from our client base. We use surveys, comments, voting, focus groups, and engagement to source feedback that allows us to tailor our products to the needs of the spectrum of textures in the multi-cultural community. We are implementing a multifaceted marketing approach that hinges on social media, content marketing, press, influencer marketing, trade shows, and grass roots activation.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Enable small and new businesses, especially in untapped communities, to prosper and create good jobs through access to capital, networks, and technology
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
THE MOST delivers a tech-based health and wellness solution to a traditionally underserved consumer and will play a key role in a larger entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurship is an incredible wealth generator for our communities and we are passionate about making this path more accessible. We have found a solution to a problem in a $500B market and are dedicated to building a diverse and culturally informed team from design and engineering, to manufacturing and sales. We will sponsor workforce development training for women in tech-enabled manufacturing and will commit a percentage of sales for grants to support Black women founders.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Washington D.C., DC, USA
What is your solution’s stage of development?
Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
Dawn Myers, THE MOST Founder & CEO
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Our featured design, THE MOST Mint, leverages patent pending disposable product cartridges which allow consumers to gently condition their liquid products and style quickly with no mess. Also, our patent-pending styling pods - similar to Keurig K-cups, except they distribute hair products instead of coffee, allow consumers to gently condition their liquid products and style quickly with no mess. This construction offers users unprecedented convenience and efficacy that isn’t currently reflected in the market.
Mainstream beauty companies are not privy to the needs of Black hair textures beyond liquid products, or tools that straighten hair and cause permanent damage. Currently, consumers depend on manual styling, basic combs and brushes, and the few other tools aimed at women with textured hair. While there are tools existing on the market aimed at textured hair, they focus on liquid product, or ancillary concerns rather than the core concerns - detangling, product conditioning, and product application. This includes our competitors, such as Dyson, Deva Curl, Maxi Glide, Rev Air. None tackle the process of product application, which our research indicates is the single biggest pain point for this niche.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
THE MOST Mint uses an internal heating element to warm conditioners, gels, moisturizers, and oils before they are applied to your hair, increasing absorption and improving hair health. The product is designed to allow users to perform easy product application and treatments with one tool, in one step, with no mess.
Our tools leverage heat differently. THE MOST Mint's warming function is designed to be ultra safe for curls. Other hair appliances (think flat irons, curling irons, and hot combs) weaken bonds and destroy natural curl patterns with excessive heat. We have collaborated with industry experts to figure out the optimal heat point to open up the cuticle and achieve maximum product penetration without damaging the hair cuticle.
THE MOST Mint cuts down styling time in the home and is compact and portable for styling on-the-go. Removable, refillable product cartridges are easy to transport, which means you can quickly and easily style whether at the gym, leaving work, or on travel. THE MOST Mint is compact, USB powered, and easy to charge.
- Detangles curls, kinks, and waves
- Multiple interchangeable bristle designs cater to different hair textures
- Stores and warms product for better penetration and absorption
- Applies product quickly and easily in one stroke
- Slashes product application time by at least half
- Designed with curl-safe warming mechanism - NO RISK OF HEAT DAMAGE
- USB Charged and compact design for maximum portability
- TSA compatible for easy air travel
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Natural hair styling affects Black women's ability to get, keep, and move up in our jobs; our ability to workout and stay healthy; our hygiene and wellness; and our deepest feelings of self worth. Making natural, textured hair styling easier and faster would not only free up hours per week for women of color everywhere, it would have massive affects on our overall well being and quality of life.
THE MOST is addressing these issues by paying special attention to the practical needs of women in the textured hair segment. THE MOST is to Shea Moisture what Home Depot is to West Elm. We exist to make your hairstyling house run seamlessly and efficiently. Our focus is on hardware design rather than liquid products - an area that is ripe for innovation. The grooming habits of women with textured hair differ drastically from the mainstream and these pain points are blind spots for major manufacturers. Our laser focus on, insight into, and expertise with this discrete niche gives us the ability to tailor effective solutions for a segment whose needs go perpetually unmet by the industry.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
We launched a limited pre-sale campaign in November 2019 and brought in $3,745 (more than 30 presales of THE MOST Mint) with no paid ads or marketing. With a stronger, more built out consumer channel of 8k enthusiastic supporters and lead investor, we plan to relaunch pre-sales through crowdfunding and we are expecting a proportionally robust outcome.
The MOST has currently only launched pre-sales. Our customers are direct to consumers through our 10K consumer channel. We are building our network of retailer partnerships through participation in the Sephora Accelerate program. Our new marketing and data team is working right now to tighten our marketing funnels and build the infrastructure for informed, data driven decision making. In one week our marketing team has made a huge impact. We launched a new social media campaign that broadened our brand awareness with 20K total views during our Instagram Live broadcasts and realized a spike in our website traffic.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
THE MOST is pre-commercial launch. The roadmap for hardware companies is different. Unlike more traditional tech outfits, generating revenue pre-investment is extremely rare. Despite the difficulty associated with generating revenue pre-product, we have launched pre-sales at an extreme discount to showcase demand. We are testing the first version of our prototype and anticipate having to go through several rounds of refinement and testing, and our prototypes are currently inefficiently sourced. We are looking for a quicker and more affordable way to refine our prototypes so that we can get to market faster. Investment funding is necessary in order to source The Mint tool design and manufacturing. As we generate pre-sales, we are seeking this funding.
Funding barriers are extreme for THE MOST. We’re working in a traditionally underserved market and need to successfully educate investors who are not familiar with the physical and mental struggles that come with natural hair. As a Black female-owned company bringing a new category to hair tools, it’s been difficult to tap into a predominantly male-dominated industry and unconscious bias against women, and Black women in particular.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We know that our market is responsive to visual demonstrations of new products and word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted sources. Targeting social media influencers and hair blogs will be important for providing consumers with visuals and acclimating them to new technology. Industry professionals will be useful to get the word out and engender trust in our product. We know also that young people drive trends in the natural hair space, so we plan to leverage brand ambassadors on Historically Black College and University campuses to build an enthusiastic following of young hair enthusiasts.
What type of organization is your solution team?
For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
THE MOST currently has 9 team members.
How many years have you worked on your solution?
THE MOST was founded in 2018. We are entering our third year working on the organization and innovative solutions.
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
THE MOST is run by a talented team of Black women technologists, marketing experts, and product development pros who are thriving in the face of lack of access to capital and deep bias in the space. We continue to make incredible progress despite the bleak statistics around Black women-led firms. For us, every investment is a critical step toward creating solutions that matter for underrepresented consumers and creating an ecosystem that recognizes the power and potential of black women leaders. THE MOST is addressing a $500B market with the best IP, product development and cosmetology pros in the region.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
The MOST is proud to have won Unilever’s New Voices Fund pitch competition as well as becoming a finalist in Pipeline Angels’ pitch summit in 2019.
We are also honored to have onboarded elite advisors including Tristan Walker of Bevel, Jane Carter of Jane Carter solutions, and Barry Lathan, former XEROX CEO.
In addition to being accepted to and completing 4 accelerators in 2019, we are also currently participating in the Sephora Accelerator program and the NextFab Hardware Accelerator, one of the most respected hardware-focused programs in the country.
What is your business model?
Our initial strategy focuses on direct to consumer sales with a focus on social media. We will be selling through our website and Amazon, as well as directly to hair schools, salons, and individual stylists. We will limit our retail strategy in order to maintain a tight customer channel and collect data that will feed out product development strategy.
THE MOST’s business model upon launch relies heavily on a direct to consumer strategy. Our online sales channel consists of a 7k social media following and a lead list of nearly 5,000 emails. We will also be selling at trade shows and to retail channels to land high volume purchase orders.
In years 2 and 3, THE MOST will lean more heavily on retail sales once we have the infrastructure to support those relationships. We will also be launching our subscription model in year 3 for our renewable styling pods. Upon subscription launch, users will be able to go online, select products from a number of brand partners, and have those renewables shipped to their door for added convenience and predictability.
Our business will consist of sales of hardware, sales of renewables, and licensing of our renewable pods to select partners. We will also incorporate B2B sales to salons, hotels, gyms, spas, and other companies looking to increase touch points with new majority demographic and the ever growing textured consumer niche.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?
Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
As outlined above, THE MOST is in the venture capital and prototype stages.We are working to gain attention from investors, are pre-selling The Mint tool, are working on a crowdfunding campaign, and are applying to grants to support the design and manufacturing stages of our business.
Our financial sustainability lies in our proprietary disposable pod design that allows us to partner with liquid product manufacturers to manufacture and sell prefabricated, co-branded product pods that dramatically increase the ease of use, portability, and convenience factor for consumers. These disposable product-filled cartridges can be inserted into our Mint tool and heated to the optimal temperature to nourish textured hair. Our patent-pending design is high margin, making it an attractive option for retailers.
Why are you applying to Solve?
THE MOST is applying to Solve in order to gain access to this tech-based community of peers, funders and experts. As a selected Solver team, we’ll have the ability to focus on THE MOST Mint prototype. Currently the prototype needs rounds of refinement and testing, and is inefficiently sourced. Solve’s tech experts may help us in finding a quicker and more affordable way to refine our prototype in order to get it to market faster. Solve will also help us in funding, which will also provide us the opportunity to support Black women entrepreneurs.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
Partnerships will be helpful to THE MOST in finalizing the design of The Mint tool prototype and in assisting us in our engineering and manufacturing stages. Through these partnerships we’ll have access to increased exposure, more funding opportunities, culturally informed talent and the support we need to build our business in this under tapped and underserved market.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
We are interested in partnering and building relationships with both individuals and organizations within the Solve community. Solve’s inclusivity will provide us with connections that will immediately impact our business. A direct connection to MIT, as this is a new technology, would be beneficial from a talent standpoint (this may be a great opportunity for a MIT graduate). We need more connections in the design, technology and manufacturing sectors and know partnerships through MIT will be reliable and successful.
Partnerships will advance our solution by giving THE MOST access to top design and engineering resources to successfully finalize our Mint prototype and in helping us set our manufacturing process for business success. Partnerships will help us break barriers in this male-dominated industry and traditionally underserved market.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Andan Prize for Innovation in Refugee Inclusion?
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize?
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize on Good Jobs and Inclusive Entrepreneurship?
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Gulbenkian Award for Adult Literacy?
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the AI for Humanity Prize?