Grace Choi, 30, is adamant: She will never meet with a venture capitalist again.
Choi spent the past few months meeting with a number of venture capitalists for her startup, Mink. Mink is a makeup printing company that teaches anyone how to hack a home printer so it can yield any shade of FDA-approved nail polish, lipstick or eyeshadow they want. It got a lot of attention after Choi presented at technology conference TechCrunch Disrupt in May.
Mink is currently bootstrapped, and Choi would like to keep it that way. She’s bringing her home makeup printing product to market with the help of strategic partners, such as printing and major beauty brands, plus her savings account.
Someday, Choi may eat her words — it’s tough to tackle a $US55 billion beauty market without receiving giant checks from Sand Hill Road. At least right now, Choi feels the vision for her startup doesn’t align with many of the VCs she met. She says she butted heads with a number of venture capitalists and, in some cases, got into yelling matches over the direction she should take Mink.
The venture capitalists, Choi says, wanted her to produce an official Mink printer and start making money immediately. But Choi believes Mink will be best served by teaching the world how to make its own 3D makeup printers from home. She wants to start a beauty revolution first, and a business second.
“I’m definitely not meeting with anyone who has ‘VC’ in their title ever again,” Choi says. “I think they’re a little too rushed. Mink could disrupt an entire market, and with that kind of opportunity, it’s best to take your time. The way for me to kill Mink would be for me to come out with a printer that’s sucky….The whole model for entrepreneurs is like, ‘I’m going to make a billion dollars then donate a chunk of my money to charity.’ Not to judge other people, but just throwing money at stuff doesn’t add value. I think sharing the journey of building the business adds value.”