L’Oréal USA today announced the winners of the 2019 Women in Digital NEXT Generation Awards, a program—now in its seventh year—that supports female leaders who are building technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the beauty industry. The three winners of the 2019 Next Generation awards, each of whom will receive $25,000 in grant funding, include Mandi Nyambi and Lanya Olmsted, the co-founders of Baalm, an online community for beauty; Lisha Li, the founder of Rosebud AI, a technology that lets users virtually try-on makeup, hairstyles and clothes from any social media photo; and Alyssa Min and Sunny Kim, the co-founders of Seknd, a smart beauty discovery platform for personalized product recommendations.
Entry to the 2019 competition was an open call to all women leaders who are inventing and building new technologies and interfaces, beauty services, communities and digitally native brands that address the needs of the modern beauty consumer.
Understanding the importance of community for early-stage entrepreneurs, this year L’Oréal USA expanded upon its efforts to support this network, creating an inclusive, virtual Women In Digital community on the Alice platform that will continue to exist year-round as a resource for participating entrepreneurs from all over the United States.
“This year we received over 450 nominations, representing a diverse group of women from all over the country. Narrowing this down was a tremendous challenge for our teams and judges, as we saw so many innovative early-stage companies founded by women whom I expect will all have an impact on the future of this industry,” said Rachel Weiss, VP of Strategic Growth and Open Innovation at L’Oréal USA. “Although the landscape has changed quite a bit in the past seven years, we know there are still challenges for female founders. We are really honored to have the opportunity to help these entrepreneurs kick-start their businesses.”
The three winners of the Women in Digital NEXT Generation Award were selected by a panel of expert judges, featuring L’Oréal executives—including Gretchen Saegh-Fleming, CMO of L’Oréal USA, Carol Hamilton, Group President of Acquisitions for L’Oréal USA, and Lisa Price, the founder of Carol’s Daughter—and leaders from the beauty and tech industries, including: Cheryl Cheng, General Partner, BlueRun Ventures; Elizabeth Gore, President, Alice; Kirsten Green, Founding Partner, Forerunner Ventures; Desiree Gruber, CEO, Full Picture, and co-founder, DGNL; Sarah Kunst, Managing Director, Cleo Capital; Kat Manalac, Partner, Y Combinator; Ann Miura-Ko, Founding Partner, Floodgate; and Nicole Quinn, Partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners.
More information about the 2019 winners of the L’Oréal USA Women in Digital NEXT Generation Awards:
Mandi Nyambi, Co-Founder & CEO, and Lanya Olmsted, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, of Baalm
An online community for beauty, Baalm is creating is a network of brands, consumers and skincare professionals matching the right products for the right skincare issues. Baalm’s digital platform matches users to the right products for their skin. Through Baalm, Nyambi and Olmsted seek to advocate to brands on behalf of consumers, to regulatory bodies and to the world for better ingredients, effective formulations and a culture of transparency. The team is all-female and seeks to be advocates for clean beauty and healthy skin.
A scientist, writer and entrepreneur passionate about skin tech, Nyambi started Baalm after struggling to find the right skincare products for her eczema and sensitive skin. Nyambi is the author of the forthcoming skincare guide book Fresh Face (Chronicle Books, 2019). She holds degrees in the biological sciences from Columbia University (M.S.) and Harvard University (B.A.).
Before forming the company with Nyambi, Olmsted was an award-winning creative consultant and designer with a background in social media strategy, content marketing, user experience, and branding design, at Code & Theory, HubSpot, as well as the research team at Harvard Business School. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in Psychology.
Lisha Li, Founder and CEO of Rosebud AI
Rosebud lets you virtually try on makeup, hairstyles and clothes from any social media picture, in one tap. It works like a filter, but lets users try on any look from a picture—found on Instagram, YouTube, and beyond—to virtually try it on themselves. The photo does not need to have been previously seen by the Rosebud AI model for the transfer to work, allowing users to try limitless updated looks. Rosebud makes this possible through its proprietary AI research in image synthesis. Prior to founding Rosebud, Li was a venture capitalist and a mathematician. Li completed her PhD at UC Berkeley focusing on deep learning and probability.
Alyssa Min, Co-founder & CEO, and Sunny Kim, Co-founder and CTO, of Seknd
Seknd is building a smart skincare discovery platform using technology to bring the best of retail to digital. Seknd, which its founders liken to “TripAdvisor for skincare,” takes what works in retail: contextualized recommendations and the ability to interact with a product sample to create a new digital experience tying product discovery to purchase. Seknd’s mission is to empower passionate beauty brands to reach the right customers and grow their business, and to help consumers to make informed and personal beauty purchases based on objective data and insights. By leveraging machine learning to assist consumers in discovering and trying the right products for them, Seknd aspires to elevate the industry beyond subjective reviews, influencer fatigue, and “top 10” lists to focus on ingredient transparency, education, and personalized product recommendations. Min and Kim are both Google alumni who built and marketed products for B2B and B2C, including Maps, YouTube, and Travel.
Previous Women in Digital winners include Morgan DeBaun, the founder of Blavity; Kathryn Minshew, the founder of The Muse; and Rachel Tipograph, the founder of MikMak, among other leading entrepreneurs.
In addition to receiving $25,000 grants, all Women in Digital NEXT Generation Award winners have been invited to L’Oréal USA’s New York City headquarters to meet with executives and attend on-site events.