The beauty market is increasingly adopting simulation technology, providing personalized style suggestions. Through an app, users receive recommendations for makeup products like lipstick and foundation that match their skin tone, providing valuable guidance for purchases. However, hair design is a different game. Compared to cosmetics, it’s pricier and less reversible. An unsatisfactory haircut, perm, or dye can result in months of frustration. Even if clients bring a photo to a salon and consult with a hairdresser, they may still feel disappointed with the outcome.
Mirrorroid’s Smart Mirror changes that by letting users try out different styles that suit them before committing at the salon. As a result, both hair salon customers and hairdressers can reach satisfaction. We sat down with Jejung Yu, Vice President of Mirrorroid, who is advocating for the company’s beauty technology not only in Korea but also in Japan and internationally through their product, the Smart Mirror.
⦁ Hair Style Changes Aren’t Easy, but Smart Mirror Allows Customers to Preview Any Style in Advance
Q. The application of AR technology to beauty is impressive. How did you come up with the idea of the smart mirror?
At an exhibition in Japan in 2019, I saw a smart mirror service that shows makeup styles in advance. You can remove and redo makeup if you don’t like it, but fixing a hairstyle you don’t like isn’t as easy. So, I thought a smart mirror showing hairstyles would have more market potential than a makeup smart mirror.
Q. Most beauty tech companies are based in Seoul. What made you choose Pangyo Techno Valley as your base?
With extensive experience in working with large corporations and POC projects, I found Gyeonggi Venture Startup Support while working on a POC project with LG Display. This lead us to move into the Pangyo Startup Zone.
* Expanding beyond the Japanese market and entering the global market starting with the US and Europe
Q. Besides entering Japan, what are your plans for international expansion?
Japan is our first market, and since establishing our Japanese corporation in January 2021, we’ve been delivering smart mirrors to around 100 stores there, while expanding our franchise. We’re actively entering the Japanese market by partnering with a beauty company with 15,000 stores across Japan. In addition, we regularly participate in Japanese exhibitions to promote our smart mirror “Mirat” brand.
Next, we’re preparing to establish a Canadian corporation to expand our business into the American and European markets, going beyond Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
Q. You also attended CES 2021. How was the response in the US market?
Before attending CES, we targeted only the Asian market, but the positive feedback we received from the US market made us realize the huge market potential there. In the upcoming CES 2024, our Canadian corporate team will participate to showcase Mirrorroid’s technology.
Q. Are you also attending an IR conference in New York, USA?
We’re planning to meet with local investors to establish our Canadian corporation and enter the US market. Our goal is to promote Mirrorroid on the global stage and prove our technical prowess with our product.
“Our Goal is to Lead Trends in Different Countries Reflecting Distinct Face Shapes and Hair Textures.”
Q. Hair thickness, skin tone, and style preferences can vary by race. How do you collect and manage this kind of data?
We’re currently conducting joint research with KAIST, developing technology that can maintain hairstyles when the face shape changes and AI technology that changes hair texture. By understanding country-specific trends collected through updates, users can even try on a popular French hairstyle at a Korean salon. We’re scheduled to launch this service in the second half of 2023.
Q. How does Smart Booth differentiate itself from other popular photo booths?
Indeed, photo booths are popular. However, we invented our product two and a half years ago. When you want to take a selfie, you need proper lighting and then you need to upload it on social media. With our Smart Booth, we incorporated our existing smart mirror technology. We update our software or photo content every two weeks to provide trendy styles and décor.
Q. As an experienced businessman, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Starting a business isn’t easy. Money and personnel seem to be critical aspects of entrepreneurship. Business support organizations like the Pangyo Startup Zone can provide everything from personnel management to consulting and investment attraction necessary for an early-stage business. We recommend using these acceleration programs to mitigate your risk.