Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty has raised $9.5 million in a Series A round led by venture capital firm GGV Capital.

Other investors include Y Combinator, a seed round investor, and newcomers Bessemer Venture Partners and SoGal Ventures. The aggregate raise so far is $12 million since the hair-care firm’s launch in December 2015. Hans Tung, GGV’s managing partner, has become a “board observer” at Function of Beauty. He also led GGV’s investment in fashion marketplace Poshmark.

“Function of Beauty is pioneering an important new trend online — beauty personalization. Personalized beauty care is something that no other company has been able to do at scale,” Tung said, adding that the “combination of online, direct-to-consumer, plus the chemistry expertise sets this company apart.”

Function of Beauty was initially started as a first-of-its-kind personalized hair-care products firm that produces individually filled and formulated shampoo and conditioner. However, the science and technology the firm uses can be expanded to other beauty sectors, such as personalized skin-care treatments, according to Zahir Dossa, the firm’s chief executive officer.

Dossa has undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from MIT. He started in computer science and expanded into looking at how computer science and e-commerce can transform the value chains in different industries. His dissertation was focused on the beauty industry.

According to Dossa, a customer’s hair profile from either a sample or online questionnaire on hair-care preferences and goals, such as level of conditioning or antifrizz, are then run through an algorithm that details the specific ingredient mix. Chemists oversee the process. The custom tailored shampoo and conditioner are mixed and poured into bottles. Dossa said there are currently 12 billion possible custom combinations, and no combination has yet to be made twice.

The shampoo and conditioner sets are available in either 8-oz. or 16-oz. bottles. The sets range from $36 to $46, depending on option selected, and Dossa said the reorder rate on average is “every 3 to 4 months.”

Dossa said a frequent request has been for formulations for either dog or baby shampoo, although neither option is a part of any future plans.

The company, which opened a pop-up store in NoLIta in November, is in the midst of planning its first flagship location in Manhattan. Dossa said the site would most likely be in SoHo or NoLIta.

The latest funding round would help with the opening of the new store, as well as with global expansion plans beyond the U.S. Dossa said the company has plans to expand in Asia, through the assistance of GGV Capital.

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