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Hair-Customization Brand Prose Raises $18M

Prose's direct-to-consumer custom formulations are meant to help shoppers avoid decision fatigue at the shelf.

Hair-care start-up Prose has closed an $18 million Series B funding round.

The round was led by Insight Venture Partners with participation from existing investors — Forerunner Ventures, ISAI, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Correlation Ventures. So far, Prose has raised $25 million.

The business launched in January and makes customized hair products. To buy them, customers go through an online consultation about their hair type, texture, lifestyle habits and environment. Prose develops custom mask, shampoo and conditioner formulations that can be vegan, gluten-free or fragrance-free.

According to Arnaud Plas, chief executive officer, the funding will allow the company to bulk up in research and development, operations and marketing and customer acquisition. At the company’s Industry City, Brooklyn manufacturing facility, for example, a machine “will be able to deliver up to 10,000 unique products per day,” Plas said. The business has also hired a design director to oversee an in-house creative team focused on marketing, he said.

Prose is looking to be the next big thing in hair, he said. “During the last 20 or 30 years in consumer products, the innovation was mostly driven through consumer segmentation and at some point it was making sense,” Plas said.

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But when three shampoos became 30 shampoos, things started getting confusing for the consumer, he noted. “By going that far in terms of segmentation, we lost the consumer,” Plas said.

Prose’s customized offering aims to fix that shelf confusion. So far the business has done more than 500,000 consultations, and is growing double-digits every month. The business has beat expectations by four times, Plas said, declining to provide more specific sales information.