Al Del Degan Hosts Rana Hyatt
[00:00:00] Al Del Degan: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Leaders, Innovators, and Big Ideas podcast for Rainforest Alberta. Today my special guest is Rana Hyatt. Hi Rana, thanks for joining me today.
[00:00:09] Rana Hyatt: Hi, how's it going?
[00:00:10] Al Del Degan: Good. Good, good. So great to have you here. I'm excited to learn a little bit more about what you do and your claim to fame and you have on your zoom, you have the beauty of clean technologies, so exciting to hear about that stuff. So why don't we start with learning a little bit about who's Rana, and how we got to where we are today?
[00:00:34] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. So my name is Rana Hyatt, and I am a professional hair and makeup artist. I grew up in the industry. My parents have owned hair salons since gosh, since I was born.
So. In the hair industry. And also with my science background, I wanted to kind of marry the two together. And I noticed that there was a huge lacking in the market in terms of proper sanitation. And I think COVID really highlighted the dirty side of makeup and how we can, kind of, have better practices of prevention in terms of things like herpes or cold sores and pink eye and possibly even transmitting bad behaviors that result in acne. So that's what I'm all about.
[00:01:18] Al Del Degan: You're an innovator in a space that is not super innovative other than making new makeup and stuff like that, that, you know, the big companies are always trying to do. I guess you're in the Catalyzer are you not?
[00:01:31] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, so I'm with the, I started originally with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network. That was a connection I made through Red Deer Polytechnic with Tanya Wolf, that is one of the lead engineers there. So she sent me there. I got in touch with Kathy and I went through the program and then I was referred to the Platform Calgary Catalyzer, just finished the last one, and we just out started the new cohort. So we're learning really, really fast and really happy with where Solis is right now.
[00:02:03] Al Del Degan: That's cool. So what stage are you at with Solis?
[00:02:06] Rana Hyatt: Gosh, so we are in manufacturing and production, so we have started our pre-sales when it comes to hardware, I would like to say it's very expensive to deal with manufacturing, physical products. So we're working with a company in Airdrie, so we're keeping everything in Alberta. So I'm really happy to say that. Very Alberta proud in terms of our company and our direction.
[00:02:28] Al Del Degan: And how's the program? Is it an accelerator program or is it more of a small business educational program?
[00:02:35] Rana Hyatt: I would definitely say that it's an accelerator program and without the Platfom Calgary and Alberta Catalyzer program. I don't think we'd be where we are in terms of being in a manufacturing stage and having the access and the right people to speak to when it comes to grants and partners and possible like pitch competitions, things like that.
It would probably take me like five to 10 years. If not more. If I hadn't been part of the cohort, ya.
[00:03:06] Al Del Degan: Wow. That's speaking very, very highly of that program. And I've heard so many people talk about how great it is. So that's really cool to hear firsthand. So can we talk about your company a little bit?
So you sort of talked about the idea behind your company, where it came from. So maybe you could talk a little bit more about how it actually works and maybe without giving out trade secrets.
[00:03:28] Rana Hyatt: Nope. I won't give away trade secrets. So traditionally makeup brush sanitizers, which we've done through our customer discovery and, you know, I've had this personal problem for myself professionally is that it takes forever to clean them. It takes 24 hours downtime for those brushes to actually fully sanitize. So when you're doing a, let's say for example, a bridal party, you have, you know, 10 to 12 guests that you're servicing and doing makeup for, but those brushes are not allowed to be touched. One brush per person essentially is the concept.
So you're coming home after a long day of work and having to spend, you know, a couple more hours having to clean those brushes, sanitize them, but those brushes aren't ready for the following day. So you have to have your second batch of brushes. Traditionally, the way that makeup brush cleaners, it's just not efficient.
It's not killing all the types of viral and fungal things that we're starting to see more of on makeup brushes. So we wanted to make sure that with a push of a button, you could actually just insert your brushes with our IP technology and it would kill everything. And without harming the actual bristles.
That was another big thing is like there are sanitation and traditional ways that they're really strong for a makeup brush. So how do we, how do we kind of bring the two together? So it's gentle on the bristles, but also super effective
[00:04:52] Al Del Degan: professional makeup brushes are not cheap, right? Like they're not like paint-by-numbers set brushes, right?
[00:04:59] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. They're definitely not your dollar store brushes, but they're, they're very, very expensive and you want to maintain those high quality brushes, just the same way that you want to maintain the actual cosmetic, the actual makeup. The, you know, the costs of those foundations and applications, so you can buy beautiful makeup, but also have, like, great brushes and applicators to use them with.
[00:05:19] Al Del Degan: Oh, that's great. Are you planning to have this product available mainly for professionals or will it be something people can buy as a home user as well?
[00:05:29] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, that's a great question. We definitely have a version not as big. I think, I think for the everyday user or makeup enthusiast, I like to call them, is they'll have a smaller version.
So it can just easily be tucked away in their bathroom, and they can just store their makeup brushes in there. And then that's a nice little disguise in that sense. It doesn't take up a lot of space. So we will have a smaller version just as effective, just as beautiful.
[00:05:58] Al Del Degan: But obviously a lady at her house is not going to have hundreds of brushes to clean, right? It's probably like three or four or something like that.
[00:06:05] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. Typically you want to make sure like, just the same way that you would clean your coffee cup every time you use it. You know, we want to be able to clean your makeup brushes because that is going directly onto your face.
So. Yeah, you want to, with just a push of a button, you don't want to have to deal with them, soap it up, try all the, you know, the other conventional thing spray with a bit of alcohol or whatever, those aren't as effective. So with Solace, we just want you to just not worry about it. Because the biggest thing that we found was in our surveys was that everybody, once you do your makeup, this is a very common thing is once you do your makeup, like you're looking at the brushes.
You're like, oh, I need to clean these. And then you put your makeup on. And then you put your brushes away and your makeup away. And then the next day, when you come back to put on your makeup, you're like, oh yeah, I forgot. I need to clean these. And then the cycle just repeats. It's this awful cycle.
[00:06:55] Al Del Degan: And obviously as a professional makeup artist, you don't have the luxury of using the makeup brushes over and over again for multiple people.
And so. You know, I, I'm also a photographer, so I've worked with a lot of makeup artists and I know there's things like the little white sponges and stuff that you can buy in bulk and stuff. And so you can kind of sneak away a little bit by using disposable stuff, but really to apply makeup properly, you got to have the right tools and these expensive brushes as you're referring to them you know, imagine a bridal party with 10 people and then you have.
Two sets of brushes and never have to use the same brush on the same person, two days in a row. Holy moly, that could get really, really pricey. I I'm guessing your product as a, as a, a pretty open market with a lot of people that would be very interested in. So tell me a bit about your customer discovery experience. What's that been like?
[00:07:52] Rana Hyatt: It's actually been really cool. I want to actually touch a little bit on what you said in terms of the disposable single use applicators. That was also discovery of how much how many purchases throughout the year that people buy those things. And typically they buy them from, let's say Amazon they're hundreds and thousands of dollars spent on single use disposables.
What does that look like for you sustainably? It doesn't bout very well. And if you want to live, begin with clean products, why don't we begin with clean tools and cleaner ways of actually practicing in this industry? That was a really big thing for me. We found that there was a market in dentistry, which is quite interesting, that that kept being a repetitive conversation.
The other discovery we found was there were. You know, make it them enthusists, but they're corporate professionals that just want, you know, the best essentially. I like to term it, like the, this Solace is the Dyson of makeup, you know, it's that high quality, great technology. Product and you just there's so much value to it.
So that's a, that's where our customer discovery is. And that really resonated with our interviews and conversations that we were having with vast groups of people. So I think that's our direction.
[00:09:09] Al Del Degan: Nice. And you spoke a little bit about a smaller version for the makeup enthusist, but if you were a professional makeup artist, is that going to be like a much larger thing? Is that something you would carry around with you in, in your going out and doing your customers and stuff?
[00:09:25] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. When you're freelancing, you want to make sure that it will, technically solace will be the makeup holder of your brushes, and then you just pop that lid on and it disperses of any of the germs and pathogens ready to use.
So it's going to be a kind of a. It works both ways. It works really beautifully in terms of it'll just store your brushes as you're working. And once those brushes, once you're done with that guest, you can move on to the next one, set up your entire station, reset your station again. And then in that time you'd press the button and you're ready to go for the next client.
And it is yeah, it's intended to be very portable and just it's meant to travel with you.
[00:10:06] Al Del Degan: That's genius. So what's what's one of your biggest learnings going through this this Catalyzer program and the accelerator and that?
[00:10:16] Rana Hyatt: One of the biggest learnings I've noticed is that because of, I didn't realize how vast the startup community was that I really struggled to ask for what I needed.
Let's say, you know, legal in terms of our shareholder agreements or things like that, you know, the, the, the business side that you understand it, but you just don't know the logistics of what it entails. And learning to ask and and then just getting great feedback and great connections through Platform was the biggest challenge.
The other one was realizing how expensive hardware is when you're building all the little pieces and wiring and, and, and, and doing it yourself. And, you know, it starts to add up. And then when you look at the actual, the financing of a full-blown production line, it's a. It gets a little hairy. You start wondering, is this the right way?
[00:11:07] Al Del Degan: There's so much money in time sunk into sort of like the R & D and the proving, the theory, and then modifying it to the point where you actually get to production. And then the people that are producing it. I suspect they're not going to make like a row of 10? Like they'd probably want to make a lot in order to make it, the tooling of their systems and, or their machinery and whatever. That's, that's a pretty big cash outlay. So you're just getting into that right now, right? That's you're just at the beginning of that.
[00:11:35] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. We're just getting into it. We are finding solutions. We are, I am bootstrapping it myself.
So we're hoping that in the time that we get sort of the grants and we're not kind of stalling to wait for them. We're moving along this path. You know, there's also the bank of mom and dad, which is somewhat, might be an option. I hate to say it. I hope they're not listening.
[00:11:58] Al Del Degan: That's their friends and family round. Right?
[00:12:00] Rana Hyatt: Yes, that's the friends and family round.
[00:12:04] Al Del Degan: Actually I think they usually call it friends, family, and fools. That's it, that's the tough, the tough side of it. You know, a lot of companies are doing the software play and the software play can be, you know, it can be expensive in the end, but if one of the founders is a software developer, whatever, it can make a big difference in getting the MVP out there.
But when you're building a hardware product, then the world becomes a totally different p lace to exist. And now all of a sudden the money is upfront. Like everything is really upfront. And, you know, once you have a, a garage or a warehouse full of boxes of products that are ready to sell, then it becomes a totally different world.
Now you're, now you're trying to unload all these products and make sure that people are happy with them. And then you have to deal with, you know, returns and and defective products and things. And so yeah, you got your work cut out for you.
[00:12:59] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, there's definitely, you know, returned processes and flow charts and Gantt charts and learning about the madness that it takes to actually put a company.
And so what you're seeing, typically, what people see is, you know, the beautiful side of of your company. And you're just like, okay, but the, in their workings are just like, we have to organize this a bit better because that everything, every, I feel like I'm everywhere and nowhere that's, you know, all the things that it entails.
We're hoping that by the time we get to, we have pre-sales. So we're excited about those and we're excited about our early adopters. We're very happy. So that is our, our mission and our goal is to provide a product with full purpose. And yes, I didn't realize that. Things like product engineers that do the stress test on such things.
Cause I'm like I was ambitious and be like, we're going to be ready in six months. And they're like, you're not going to be ready at all.
[00:13:52] Al Del Degan: Well, I imagine with, with a physical product like that, that's likely electric. I imagine there's certifications and things that you have for radio interference and all that other kind of thing that you have to deal with too.
[00:14:03] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, you're right. Yeah. There's us. And there's things called the. Like, you know, health requirements and checkpoints that we need to meet. Yeah. You got to love this country because, a there is all the regulators.
[00:14:15] Al Del Degan: Yeah. I mean, in the end is probably a good thing and for, for people, but it is, it is a pain in the butt in some cases.
[00:14:23] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. Once you get it right, you're good to go. But in the meantime, it just takes like forever.
[00:14:29] Al Del Degan: Absolutely. You said something that kind of triggered a thought in my head and I wanted to ask you about this. Have you considered, or did you ever look at doing something like a crowdsourcing, like a Kickstarter or something, or were you kind of cautioned against that by Platform? Or maybe you could speak to that a little bit?
[00:14:46] Rana Hyatt: No, actually I don't think they've ever a Platform has ever deterred a crowdfunding. One suggestion that they actually advised was to build up my social media. I mean, when you think about crowdfunding, you think like, you know, the crowd will just come if you build it.
But no, you have to kind of build that crowd first, which was a very wise piece of advice. So understanding you know, what that was about. So we're hoping to do that, but we haven't built our a, our a crowd yet.
[00:15:18] Al Del Degan: No, and you're absolutely right about that to you. You can't just throw something up on Kickstarter and expect people to come.
But it, you know, there's, there are lots of. Companies that have been extremely successful. I think of one called Peak Design that builds camera, mounts and bags and things like that. And they've basically built their entire company based off of Kickstarter and they just keep going back to Kickstarter with the new products that they want to build and they often receive.
You know, exponential amounts of money that more than they were originally asking for. So I don't know if it's a, if it's a viable option for something like that, but every time I think of like a physical product that somebody is trying to build the one thing that those platforms do, and I don't know a ton about them is they, they give you the money before you have to have the product ready, so you have that opportunity to build it. But yeah, the, the traditional, I know we have in the Rainforest we have Gary Gunthorpe, who, I'm not sure if you've met him yet, but he is he was the founder of a company called Deltatee Enterprises. So Gary Gunther is a kind of.
Semi retired. He, he can't seem to pull himself out of helping with startups and, but he's product based. So his company Deltatee their claim to fame is they build actual physical products, not software. And he's really great to consult if you need any more information in that world.
But yeah, that product world is is a different world that you have to be cautious of. And so I guess assuming that everything goes as planned and you're, you're maybe not six months away, but you're, you're somewhere, a lot farther along than you would have been. If you didn't join the Platform program, what sort of do you see on your roadmap going forward?
What is it kind of looking like now that you have a lot more information and you've gone through a lot of preparations already?
[00:17:14] Rana Hyatt: Well, we hope to sell throughout internationally, we also hope to grow our manufacturing in Alberta. Keep it here, be Canadian, truly Canadian, as much as we can. Our other objective is to patent and continue our lab testing and really get access to, you know, a full-time lab and just be able to test some of the bacteria and viral and sort of bad, bad pathogens that sit on your brushes.
And then potentially go B2B and target, maybe makeup retailers and all the testers that you wanted to try, but don't, you know, never thought you could, maybe there's an opportunity there and, and, and giving the consumer some feedback in terms of a bacterial or, you know, germ growth on that testers and even on their makeup brushes.
So doing a little bit more tech research and just kind of bringing forth a better product in the, in the following iteration.
[00:18:08] Al Del Degan: Where my mind goes is you have a successful product and it's, and you're getting some great sales. Do you see yourself adding to it by having sort of like a line of brushes or, you know, like a really cool makeup kit that fits your machine in the corner and has room for everything else? Is that kind of been going down your, through your thoughts?
[00:18:27] Rana Hyatt: Well, it's always, yeah. I feel like when you, when you're, you know, an entrepreneur, I think those ideas just naturally become, you know, you know, little, little whispers in your ear and you're like, wait a second. I have to focus.
[00:18:40] Al Del Degan: Got a focus, shiny objects, shiny objects.,
[00:18:44] Rana Hyatt: Always, always the shiny objects.
I think that we might actually just explore. More potentially a different market. Like our customer also is barbers and making sure that maybe even single use blades could actually be reused and sort of increasing our sustainability and, and making sure that we are on a safe and healthy path to the beauty industry.
[00:19:05] Al Del Degan: Well, thank you very much. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to share, maybe a tip or a trick or a piece of advice to a young entrepreneur, who's looking at building a product instead of a, a software application or whatever.
[00:19:20] Rana Hyatt: My biggest piece of advice is get into the Catalyzer program.
There's some serious powerhouses of coaches and advisors and people that you will feel incredibly supported and your, your dream, your actual dream will become a reality. I think that's one of the biggest things I would definitely say Platform Calgary is amazing. Everybody I basically interacted with has been incredible and just so helpful. There's a big startup community and especially in the tech industry here in Calgary, we're really, I'm really happy to be here. I think my biggest tip of advice is ask, always ask, you know, what's the worst thing you're going to hear is no. That's okay. Just keep on asking.
[00:20:01] Al Del Degan: There's more people to ask, right?
[00:20:03] Rana Hyatt: Exactly. Yeah. Someone's going to help you out.
[00:20:06] Al Del Degan: Right on. Love it. Okay. So thank you so much, Rana. I really appreciate you being on the show and it was so cool to meet you down at Platform and just like. Hey, we should have you on the show. It was just like a, kind of a spur of the moment thing. And here we are like, literally not even a week later. But it was really cool having you. So thank you for being here.
[00:20:26] Rana Hyatt: Thank you so much for having me and yeah, it was great that David just kind of connected us. That was awesome. See, that's what I mean Platform, you just got to go.
[00:20:34] Al Del Degan: Yeah. Just, just hang out there. That's where everything happens.
[00:20:37] Rana Hyatt: Thank you so much. I appreciate this.
[00:20:40] Al Del Degan: You're so welcome. And listeners, we'll see you next week for another episode of the Leaders, Innovators, and Big Ideas podcast. Thanks for joining us.