StartupReporter would like to continue a series of articles “Startup Journey: from 0 to 1”. In this series of articles, we would like to show startuppers not only through their innovative projects but also by talking about their personality and the team.
Oleksandr Komarevych (OK): – Manuel, please tell me what Shampora is, where did the idea of personalised shampoo come from and why in this period?
Manuel Corona: – I have long, frizzy and curly hair and, despite the fact that I work in the hair care industry for 12 years, I always get trouble in finding the best Shampoo and Conditioner for my hair so last year we built an algorithm that suggests which is the best hair care product for each of us among the best brand in market.
Starting from that, I thought that if an algorithm can decide which is the best product for me, then it can create a formula exclusively for my needs and goals. There we are. Sometimes timing is a matter of luck, we are on the rise of personalisation trend in the beauty industry so we will make an impact.
OK: – How does personalisation of hair products (shampoo & balsam) work? What does customer need to do to choose his/her own shampoo?
Manuel: – Customer side is straightforward, we built a tool that asks you everything our chemists’ team need to know about your hair type, length, colour, a lifestyle like a diet or smoke. Then, our AI analyses answer in few seconds and explain to a customer that our chemists are going to prepare a customised bundle of products with an exclusive list of ingredients.
It takes less than 3 minutes, it is funny and comfortable and is it possible to personalise also with fragrance and pigments.
OK: – Why do you think personal shampoo is better than already 100 types of existing brands?
Manuel: – As I said, out there we can find thousands of products that can be chosen, which one is the best for you? Personalization matters, big companies need to create a product that fits for millions of people making a compromise, our challenge is to industrialise personalisation process even for millions of persons without losing quality in raw material and craft process.
OK: – Is this type of shampoo safe? How do you produce it? How is about the ingredients you use, is it tested?
Manuel: – Our hair care products are entirely safe. We test our formulas in hair salons with professionals that use to wash and brush hundreds of heads every week. We respect all European and Italian laws about Rinse Off products. Compared to a supermarket product, we invest about 20 times more in cost and quality of ingredients in each formula. And, of course, we are parabens and SLS/SLES free.
OK: – How long does it take to receive the product at home?
Manuel: – A maximum of 5 working days: we take 1 day to create the products, 1 day to let them rest and stabilise and 1-2 day for shipping.
OK: – The team is significant for a startup at any stage. Who is on your team? Could you tell our readers about the uniqueness of each team member?
Manuel: – We all have proven expertise in the beauty and cosmetics industry. Some of us are at our second startup.
Irene Gullotta is the heart of the company, she manages all operations every day making me free to be the CEO, and Gianni Salvatore is our Fullstack Developer since his arrival we made giant steps in products.
They are both with me in LUISS EnLabs Acceleration Program.
Francesco is the head of science, and his team is in Verona working in the laboratory creating great formulas and looking for the bests Raw Materials. Enzo and Mirco have proven experience in startup and beauty and help us with UX/UI and Business Development.
OK: – How would you describe your team in one word?
Manuel: – Enthusiast.
OK: – What is your plan with Shampora for the next 6 months? What is your vision?
Manuel: – Our vision is to make beauty personalisation affordable at any level and anywhere. We made 0 to 1 selling our first bundle of Shampoo and Conditioner to a woman in Vicenza through our website. Soon, it will be possible to buy personalised haircare in hairdresser salons and, in future, other venues will be capable of doing this.
OK: – Now, let’s go with a bit more in details about your personality.
Often, in an interview, I ask why you choose this project and not others, why where you so interested in this specific topic. Going a long way around, this brings to the questions: what kind of child were you? Did you have someone who influenced you?
Manuel: – When I was 7 or 8 years old my teacher used to call me “Mad Scientist” because I was always studying and experimenting, at 10 I used to code and host websites on GeoCities but growing I realized that code every day wasn’t my passion. I spent a lot of time playing poker and understanding the importance of “bankroll” management. My parents are entrepreneurs and hell of sale persons, and they inspire me every day because at 60years old they are still working also every weekend just for passion. In the end, I became a hell of a salesman too.
OK: – Why did you become a startupper and what should anyone develop in him/herself to become a startupper?
Manuel: – I that period I use to be a salesman at L’Oréal, and I pretty enjoyed my salary and my work-life balance. I was in my comfort zone with a lot of ideas. At the first opportunity, I dropped that job from the night to the morning to join a 4 person team as co-founder without salary for about a year. We founded a startup which raised more than €5mln and reached significant popularity in south Europe. Then I left after about 4 years of passion to establish my company and pursue my vision.
In my opinion, if you want to be an Entrepreneur, you have to understand everything concern your business. If you are a tech company you have to understand code and to deal with developers, you have to understand finance to deal with investors and, most important, you have to know everything about the market you are going to swim in.
OK: – What is the most crucial lesson you received in your startup journey so far?
Manuel: – You cannot do more than one thing at a time if you want to be an entrepreneur you have to dedicate body and soul to your company. No other jobs, no vacation, no work-life balance. If you need all those things and you also have excellent skills, then you can be a great manager and follow someone who has a great vision. There is nothing wrong with it.
OK: – What would you recommend to readers who have an idea, but haven’t figured out where to start yet? Based on your experience, what would be your advice to them?
Manuel: – Try and fail. Only if you fail you understand what you need. And then study to know how to do it by yourself. If you are capable of doing that, then great people will follow.
OK: – What purchase of €100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Manuel: – Cooking is my little escape from reality. I have no big vices (or time for them), but if I can, I use to spend a lot of money on good food to experiment and elaborate recipes.
OK: – What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
Manuel: – “The Lord of the Rings” in my childhood, “Fight Club” when I was a teenager, and during a present time I still have to find a great book, but I think I have to find more time to read. I am one of those who starts a book and leaves at a half.
OK: – What are wrong recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
Manuel: – A lot of times people says that a great salesman is the one who speaks a lot. It is completely false. Just shut up and listen.
OK: – If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)
HARD WORK AND DEDICATION. (cit. Floyd Mayweather Jr)
OK: – What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
Manuel: – About 7 years ago I launched a website where to order food online (wow, what an idea!), that wasn’t my first experience as an entrepreneur. I quickly failed. I put my own money in that company, and it was the moment when I realised I knew nothing about startups and fundraising. Without that experience, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
OK: – What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
Manuel: – I quitted this, but until a few months ago I used to wake up at 4.00 am on Sundays to watch streaming boxing match live from Las Vegas. Boxe is my great passion.
OK: – Manuel, what would you like to wish the readers?
Manuel: – Be passionate, be kind to people, understand your talent and great things will happen.