Mayvenn Launches New Business Model, Pays For You To Get Your Hair Done

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Black tech founders
Diishan Imira is the founder and CEO of Mayvenn, Inc., a tech company that reshapes how sale retail products are distributed. Photo: Anita Sanikop

Hair extensions company Mayvenn has announced a new business model paid for with the help of $36-million in venture capital funding the company has raised since 2013.

In funding rounds led by Andreessen Horowitz and Richelieu Dennis’ Essence Ventures, Mayvenn has raised a total of $36 million over four rounds from 18 investors. The latest — a Series B round — raised $23 million in November 2018.

Mayvenn investors include Serena Williams, Jimmy Iovine, Steve Stoute, Andre Iguodala (of the Golden State Warriors), Cross Culture Ventures and Impact America Fund.

Here’s the deal: if you buy hair from Mayvenn, you can pay for it in four interest-free payments and you can get it installed free.

Using the new program, Mayvenn Install, customers buy hair directly from the company online. Then Mayvenn matches customers with a local stylist in its network who will install the hair. It is essentially hair plus service (shampoo, condition, braid down, sew-in, and style) for the price of the hair.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 48: Diishan Imira

Part 2: Jamarlin continues his interview with Diishan Imira, founder of hair-care platform Mayvenn. They discuss how Diishan was mentored to think like a boss and “ask for the check,” and how much it meant to him to have investor Richelieu Dennis in his cap table. They also discuss New York progressives bangin’ back against Amazon and the growing negative sentiment against big tech.

How it works: After you buy three or more hair bundles, Mayvenn emails a pre-paid voucher to use during the appointment. A stylist scans it and gets paid instantly.

Mayvenn recently partnered with payment platform QuadPay to give customers the option of paying for orders in four interest-free payments. “You can slay now and pay later,” the company said in a press release.

Mayvenn Install lets customers get hair and have it installed “for probably 40 percent less than what they normally would have paid,” said Diishan Imira, CEO and co-founder of Mayvenn, in a press release. “This not only expands the consumer’s access to high quality, affordable hair, but we are also focusing on helping Black entrepreneurs. I am on a mission to empower hairstylists and put the money back into their pockets.”

Imira went from teaching English in China to building a multi-million dollar company in Silicon Valley, and he’s credited with shifting the power of the billion-dollar hair extension industry to Black communities and stylists. He left his hometown of Oakland, Calif. at age 18 to attend Hampton University. Unsure of his future, Imira moved to China to teach English, according to Respect magazine. He first started selling hair while he was living in Shenzhen from 2003 to 2005, Techcrunch reported. 

He bought and sold hair for relatives who worked at salons and barbershops — ” … just a kid from Oakland selling hair out of the trunk of my car,” he said. “I always saw these barbershops and hair salons as points of commercial distribution. When I started selling hair I said, ‘This is crazy. How come you guys are not making any money off of selling this product?’”

Imira visited salons and partnered with stylists, creating websites for them to sell the hair, which offered them a new revenue stream.

He noticed that 95 percent of Black salons did not sell any products, including hair. Consumers were buying the hair online and from beauty suppliers. There was a gap in how hair was being installed and Imira filled it when he launched Mayvenn hair in 2013 with COO Taylor Wang, according to a press release at MaC Venture Capital.

In 2013, Imira went through the 500 Startups accelerator. Within five years, Mayvenn had done more than $80 million in revenue and paid out $20 million-plus in commissions to hairstylists. Mayvenn has grown a network of 50,000 stylists and has a net worth of $100 million.