2022 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Comme Homme, University of Michigan (Ross)

Comme Homme

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

Industry: Consumer Beauty

Founding Student Name(s): Mejoy Lawson, MBA & MSI ’21, Kene Onuorah, MBA ‘21

Brief Description of Solution: Comme Homme (pronounced come home) is a tech-enabled brand bridging the gap between personal care and mental wellness. Starting off by tackling the insecurities associated with hair loss, Comme Homme combines community, augmented reality technology, and uniquely engineered scalp care products to inspire confidence among the millions of men that deal with hair loss.

Funding Dollars: Approximately $100,000 via grants, pitch competitions, and accelerators.

What led you to launch this venture? Around the age of 26, I noticed my hair thinning around my hairline and crown. This realization was tough to accept because I was someone who enjoyed changing my hairstyle every few years. I’ve had braids, waves, an afro, and a fade growing up. Therefore, facing the permanence of being bald was a tough pill to swallow. I struggled with it for a while, and a few years later, on January 1, 2017, I decided to come home (a phrase used to describe men who shave their heads). This was the most freeing decision I have made in my grooming/self-care journey. I was met with praises and compliments from family and friends, which boosted my confidence and reinforced my belief that I had made the right decision.

Fast forward to 2019, when I was entering business school at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, I met my co-founder, Kene Onuorah, who pitched me the idea of starting a brand specifically catering to bald men. He had faced similar struggles in his hair loss journey and noticed that there weren’t any products on the market that served our community. Ultimately, being intimately familiar with the problem and, upon doing market research, learning that nearly 50 million men in America face similar struggles with no real solution in sight, motivated me to launch this venture.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? My biggest accomplishment has been the creation of our three introductory scalp care products (Scalp Wash, Scalp Exfoliator, and Scalp Moisturizer). Before starting Comme Homme, I had no understanding of consumer product development, manufacturing, and supply chain. I spent several months doing ingredients’ research, looking for contract manufacturers and packaging vendors to not only understand the process, but also ensure that I could build products that would provide value to our target consumer. As I write this, I am staring at my living room filled with boxes of tested products ready to ship to any bald men who is looking for products specifically made for him. Products designed to target the pain points that bald men face daily. There is no greater feeling!

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? Michigan Ross and the University of Michigan provided me with a strong business curriculum supported by a tight-knit community. I participated in several programs through the Zell Lurie Institute, an institute dedicated to immersing U-M students in entrepreneurial environments where they create, lead, and shape innovative ventures. These programs included the Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream Grant Program (a multi-semester business creation program offering startup workshops and mentoring, and awarding $300-$5,000 in grants) and the Michigan Business Challenge (a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where student teams have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling over $100,000, gain feedback from leaders in the business community, and expand their business network), which we won. Also, I was elected managing director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, a student-run early-stage investment fund, which gave me exposure to other startups within the University of Michigan ecosystem. In summary, my MBA experience at Michigan Ross and U-M provided me with the leadership and organizational skills needed to succeed through coursework and experiential learning opportunities. Also, it provided resources to help build, shape and structure the idea of Comme Homme into a fully functioning and scalable business venture.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My mother was the serial entrepreneur who inspired me to start my entrepreneurial journey. She is a trained aesthetician who owned a beauty salon that was attached to our home. She later switched career paths to become an award-winning international fashion designer. Over the years, I gained a deeper perspective on my mother’s entrepreneurial journey and grew to appreciate it. Witnessing her drive, vulnerability, and the ultimate ownership of her success heavily influenced my passion for beginning an entrepreneurial journey of my own. She is still who I turn to whenever I need guidance on this path.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? In my experience, a lot of what startup life in the early stages involves managing the limited capital deployed within the company. To that end, the core financial accounting class was extremely valuable. With no prior business education, I needed to understand how to manage our capital effectively, the impact every decision had on our financial statements, and how to discuss those decisions and reports with potential investors. The case teaching method coupled with a plethora of real-life examples that Ross Professor Greg Miller provided in this class allowed me to gain actionable steps to being a fiscally responsible business owner. Moreover, Professor Miller was extremely approachable outside of class when I needed additional support in building our financial projections. He has since continued to be a sounding board around the building and understanding of critical financial and accounting practices.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? As a direct-to-consumer startup in 2022, it is important to have a strong and consistent brand identity, presence, and design that permeates all aspects of your products. To that end, as we approached the final stages in creating our products, we needed a packaging designer for our bottles and tubes. After several failed attempts at finding a designer that we felt comfortable with, we reached out to the University of Michigan School of Art & Design to seek help. We received a response from Professor Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo, a Branding & Product Design professor, who was excited to hear from us and wanted to learn more about our venture. After an initial conversation, Professor Nunoo-Quarcoo told us that he would be happy to work with us. For 4-5 months, Professor Nunoo-Quarcoo (and his wife) worked hand-in-hand with us to design our packaging. Their support significantly contributed to our product development timeline.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success?
The startup ecosystem in Michigan contributed to Comme Homme’s development early on by helping shape and structure the idea. Resources in the form of mentorship, grants, and advisors accelerated our growth. Programs within Michigan Ross and U-M, such as the Zell Lurie Institute, Michigan Law Clinic, and optiMize (to name a few), were key to our success. Ann Arbor Spark and New Enterprise Forum were organizations affiliated with the University of Michigan that also provided resources to support our development.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? I would like Comme Homme to become a household brand known for providing personal care products and physical and mental wellness services to support the growth, maturation, and health of men. Our mission is to help men embrace their natural evolution. Therefore, I would like the company to support all aspects of men’s evolution by providing the products and services targeted at solving critical problems men face as they mature. We are starting with hair loss, but the vision is much bigger.


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