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Using 3D imaging, ManiMe sells custom-fit stick-on nails

Kate Clark

A startup that's created high-tech stick-on nails has just launched with $2.6 million in venture capital funding.

The round was led by Canaan Partners’ Maha Ibrahim, who’s other early investments include The RealReal and luxury e-commerce site Cuyana. Her latest bet, ManiMe, says it uses machine learning to produce a unique 3D model of each of your nails, then laser cuts gels to create a perfectly tailored stick-on nail. The nails are delivered directly to consumers for “the easiest manicure from inside your home,” says co-founder and chief executive officer Jooyeon Song.

ManiMe founders

ManiMe co-founders David Miro Llopis (left) and Jooyeon Song

ManiMe, which began selling nails last week, has adopted a subscription business model to keep the nails arriving at your doorstep. They cost between $15 to $25 per set, depending on the complexity of the design, and last between 10 to 14 days (no, they can’t be reapplied). ManiMe’s nail sets won't necessarily save you money -- the average manicure is about $20 -- but the product will save you time, considering a trip to the nail salon takes about an hour twice per month and a ManiMe application should take only five minutes.

Song co-founded ManiMe alongside David Miro Llopis, the startup’s chief operating officer. The pair met during Stanford University’s MBA program and spent the last two years developing the proprietary 3D technology behind ManiMe. Nail innovation isn’t something VCs typically invest in, despite the fact that roughly $8.5 billion was spent on U.S. nail salon services in 2018, according to data collected by Statista.

We’ve yet to try out ManiMe’s faux nails, but if they’re as good as the founders suggest, the company has a real opportunity to alter the American nail market. Song says they while they have aspirations to be a “category killer,” they ultimately think ManiMe will be complementary to existing nail salons, which could apply ManiMe nails to customers who might not wish to do it themselves.

“Our company’s mission is to make women's life easier using our technology,” Song tells TechCrunch.

To secure a set of ManiMe nails, a customer needs to send five images of their nails on top of a card, select art from the company’s gallery, then wait three to four days for delivery. Using gel sourced from Korea, ManiMe’s nails are free of harmful chemicals, a real differentiator considering many nail salons are packed with hazardous chemicals -- an issue that has caused illness among nail technicians across the U.S. and documented by The New York Times.

The business plans to partner with nail influencers, allowing them to display their nail art on ManiMe’s marketplace. If a customer selects an influencer’s design, ManiMe will give the artist a cut via a previously agreed upon revenue share agreement. The alliance gives nail influencers, of which there are many, an opportunity to monetize their work and promote ManiMe via their social media platforms.

ManiMe is also backed by Trinity Ventures, Techstars and NFX.