Q&A with Zahir Dossa, Cofounder of Function of Beauty

by Y Combinator10/17/2018

We put together a list of the top YC companies by valuation as of October 2018. You can see that list at https://ycombinator.com/topcompanies.

Here’s a Q&A with Zahir Dossa, Cofounder of Function of Beauty, one of the companies featured on the list.

What does Function of Beauty make/do?
Function of Beauty makes personalized personal care products, beginning with a custom shampoo and conditioner that is tailored to a customer’s unique hair type, hair goals, and preferences. At a broader level, we are redefining “Beauty” as something that is truly personal.

How many employees does Function of Beauty have?
120 employees

How many founders?

What is your most impressive recent product milestone?
The ability to automatically fulfill 1 of 27-trillion possible formulations in 8 seconds

Looking back, what motivated you to start Function of Beauty?
We started function of beauty because we wanted to redefine Beauty. Beauty has become something that is packaged as generic miracle solutions, and marketed and sold using young, thin supermodels with professional makeup, styling, lighting, & airbrushing. This stereotyped approach to beauty is the polar opposite of true beauty, which comes from within– it belongs to every single person and is unique to every single person. As a company, we strive to celebrate that which makes every single person unique and beautiful. Because that’s what people want, and what they deserve. We’ve brought together a diverse group of people who want to be the change they want to see in the world – amazing engineers & chemists leveraging never-before-seen technology to do something no one has ever done before: hyper customization for every single customer.

What’s an interesting element of Function of Beauty’s company culture?
Most people don’t come from the “Beauty” space.

Is what you’re working on now the original idea or did you pivot?
It is exactly what we envisioned.

Were there moments where you thought the company might die? Describe one of those and anything you learned from it.
Nope. But that in itself is a key learning for us– we don’t view this as a make or break idea– it’s a proven thesis that we are trying to rigorously scale.

What was a particularly important insight you had about your market that made your product work?
I realized every single person was actually unique and wanted to be celebrated for it.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with a young founder?
Only pursue a startup if these two conditions hold: 1) you have a solution to a very significant problem; and 2) you are the very best team to implement that solution


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