Identity, community and hair — in these three things, the founders of Techturized Inc. discovered a viable market. The Atlanta-based startup, founded by recent Georgia Tech graduates, has created a social network focused on African-American hair care for women.
“Coming from engineering and science backgrounds, we set out to find a technical solution to something that’s so close to our identity — hair,” said Jess Watson, co-founder of Techturized.
From left to right: Chanel Martin, Candace Mitchell, Jess Watson
Techturized plans to capitalize on Atlanta’s startup energy to expand its business after receiving awards, funding and much attention. There is a lot of buzz around Madame You, the startup’s site where women of color discuss best hair care practices and discover products. The site generates revenue by collecting user behavior information that interested companies can access for a subscription fee.
“Our concept is innovative, because Madame You combines all aspects of hair care for women of color,” said Watson. “Women can purchase products, share reviews, offer advice and share experiences all in one place. This has never been done before.”
The founders of Techturized, including Candace Mitchell and Chanel Martin, went through Georgia Tech’s FlashPoint, a competitive project that hosts 10 to 15 startups at a time. Mentors guide participants, and intensive sessions allow all to showcase ideas to investors in Atlanta, New York City and Silicon Valley.
“Flashpoint was a way for us to mitigate risk before starting to generate revenue,” said Watson. “We were able to test our ideas and get valuable feedback from other participants and entrepreneurial experts.”
Techturized has raised $25,000 through an Indiegogo campaign and $40,000 from family and friends. The team also won $50,000 cash and more than $100,000 in donated services from the Atlanta business community as a result of taking top prize at the 2013 TAG Business Launch competition. In addition, Techturized won the 2013 BIT pitch competition at SXSW, a set of film, interactive and music festivals.
While Techturized has seen many accomplishments, its founders have faced many challenges along the way. Proving to investors that the African-American hair care market is viable was the most difficult obstacle: “African-Americans have a strong influence in the hair care market,” said Watson. “They spend about three-times more on beauty and hair care products on average, but this was hard to prove to investors.” With so much on the horizon, the founders of Techturized see growth in the near future. The startup will expand to cover hair needs for all ethnicities.
“The startup soil is very fertile right now in Atlanta,” said Watson. “Georgia Tech and all its resources, like ATDC, are right down the street from Hypepotamus. Atlanta has the right pieces to solve the startup puzzle.”
And, the founders of Techturzied are figuring out how to put those pieces together.