Growing interest in Bay hair product

Interest in Tauranga company Roholm’s sub-zero Inverse Hair Conditioning Treatment is running hot internationally, says acting chief executive Daryl French.

In a pitch to Enterprise Angels in Tauranga this week, Mr French described Inverse as the most significant advance in the hair treatment sector since GHD began globally marketing its hot flat irons in the late 1990s.

Inverse used sub-zero temperature cores in hand-held tongs to lock in moisture to hair.

The company said its tests have shown it is less damaging to hair than hot treatments or chemical conditioners, and that it significantly improved hair quality. The concept was invented by Tauranga hairdresser David Roe and developed with Locus Research.

Mr French had just returned from a trip to meet with Inverse distributors in Europe, the UK and Canada.
The company had a two-pronged marketing strategy and would use distributors servicing professional hair salons to promote local market awareness, backed up by direct e-commerce operations in each market.

The company had distributors in Canada, Dubai (for the United Arab Emirates) and the UK, and would shortly make a decision on its European distributor.

Mr French said the product had generated a “huge” social media response, as well as coverage by CBS and NBC in the US.

The company planned to keep production in New Zealand, where Hamilton-based Millennium Plastics is a key part of their global supply chain, and would be building out its Tauranga operation with a number of new staff.

“We made a conscious decision to keep manufacturing in New Zealand. The savings on the cost of goods was insignificant. And it became more evident as a factor when I was in Europe. A number of our potential distributors said they were glad we are manufacturing in New Zealand and not in China.”

Mr French said keeping control in New Zealand with a globally scalable supply chain and logistics approach would help keep control of quality and reduce the risk of copying.

Global patents had been filed for the system, he said.

“But we will be copied. We could have built a cheaper product, but we aim to have a very high quality brand – that’s going to be our protection.”

Locus managing director Timothy Allen, who is also a Roholm executive director, said the key patent was focused around the thermal storage core technology.

“It doesn’t just protect what we have now. We are starting out with the handheld device, but we have a range of other products on the drawing board.”

Roholm was founded in 2013 and raised $1 million in initial capital. It recently went to market for a further $900,000, around $711,000 of which it raised in a convertible note from existing shareholders, all of whom were in the Bay of Plenty.

It was seeking a further $189,000 from angel investors at this week’s meeting.

Enterprise Angels:

* Membership total April 2016: 205

* Membership total April 2015: 138

* Members who have invested in deals: 111 (54%)

* Members who have invested in five or more deals: 29 (14%)

First published on 7 April 2016

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