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Exclusive: Luum to raise up to $30M Series A for eyelash robot

Mar 4, 2024
A robot developed by tech startup Luum is applying eyelashes.

Photo: Courtesy of Luum

Luum Precision Lash, which makes robots that apply eyelashes, will raise a Series A round between $15 million and $30 million, CEO Nathan Harding tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Proceeds will be invested in producing a commercial machine in the U.S. and delivering it to retailers, salons and spas, Harding says.

Zoom in: Luum has several machines on order from independents and is in discussions with Ulta Beauty and Benefit Cosmetics, Harding says.

  • There is a trial taking place at an Ulta Beauty location in San Jose, Calif.
  • "The cost of the machine is covered by the customer as soon as it rolls off the line," Luum's president, Jo Lawson, says.
  • Revenue is generated from a software licensing fee every time the robot is used, she says.

By the numbers: The company has raised $15 million to date and counts Prisma Ventures, Ulta Beauty's digital innovation fund, as its key backer.

  • Other investors include former Drybar CEO John Heffner; former Philosophy CEO David Watson; former Rodan + Fields CEO Lori Bush; and former Lancôme CEO Odile Roujol, Harding says.
  • A machine costs about $125,000 to build and it will generate about $1 million in gross margin over its lifetime.

The big picture: A tight labor market and stalled immigration reform is spurring companies to develop technologies to satisfy the demand for workers.

  • Increasingly, advances in areas like robotics will come from investment in their commercial application, rather than from university research or defense spending.

Flashback: Harding is a career roboticist whose previous startup was Ekso Bionics (Nasdaq: EKSO), which makes human exoskeletons for use in rehabilitation.

  • While the technology had an emotionally powerful story to tell, it was difficult to sell, the CEO says.

Catch up quick: Harding says he got the idea for Luum after he learned about the eyelash industry when an adviser of his bought a franchise region of Amazing Lash Studio.

  • Eyelashes are glued on one at a time, which is a labor- and time-intensive process, an ideal use for robotics.

How it works: Leveraging AI, Luum's machine can complete 15 appointments per day compared with five for an eyelash artist, Harding says.

  • The robot is programmed to freeze and pull back the instrument if the customer, for example, sneezes and suddenly moves their head.
  • The feather-light instruments also easily dislodge if slightly bumped.

What's next: Lawson will become CEO while Harding will switch to CTO.

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