Home inspiration for Indian entrepreneur

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/10/22/home-inspiration-for-indian-entrepreneur/

By all accounts Suman Lal was headed for a career in medicine, but it was conversations with a fellow scientist Pradeep Paul Panengad about how women struggle with their hair that launched him into the development of a new product that could change hair salons all over the world.

Current hair straightening technology relies on flat irons and noxious chemicals. Lal and his partner realized a more scientific approach could provide a safer tool, one that would use more natural molecules to open hair cuticles and allow not only hair straightening, but also a potentially more lasting way to color hair as well.

ElectroStraight was born after some seed money allowed Lal to develop a prototype. The demo can be viewed online at his company website, Mirakel Technologies.

Today, the Indian-born entrepreneur has opened a salon in Manhattan and is starting to test the technique.

“We’ve moved from the lab to testing the product on people now.” he said. “I wanted to make that shift from being (a research and development) tech company to one that’s actually in cosmetics, and fashion and beauty. And New York was the obvious place to make that transition.

“The audience there is really receptive to something like this, both investors and people who own salons, and also stylists. Over the next three months we will test the product on over 150 people in New York.”

From the beginning of his venture, however, Lal knew that America was the best place to launch. A medical doctor by training with specialty in cancer research, Lal received his MBA from MIT’s Sloan School in 2014, and it was there he realized the connections that allowed him to develop his idea further. “And MIT gave me an offer. To me, that was the vehicle which got it going.”

“Not just in the start-up world,” he said, “but especially in very tech-based start-ups, especially for Indians, fifty percent are in the tech space, the western space — so that has some importance there, I think.

“For me, I was based in Singapore, when I thought, where’s the best place that I can give shape to this idea, because this was clearly going to continue to require a lot of science, it’s technology commercialization, early stage tech commercialization, and so on. There are very few business ecosystems that are well poised for that. And I thought, America in general, in terms of tech, I thought that’s the best place to come.”

And Boston in particular. “I looked at a few places in the U.S.,” he said, “and it became obvious, just to throw a name out there, that it wouldn’t make sense to go to, say, Chicago. It has to be in Boston. Not even New York. I’m only going to New York now, with the salon, after I have crossed some thresholds. It was either Boston or Silicon Valley.“

When it comes to a start-up, a lot of things need to come together, he said. “The lawyers, the accountants, the investors, the team. I thought, I can find all those things here, in the U.S. That’s basically what got me here.”

Lal initially began testing ElectroStraight overseas in Singapore, India and Cambodia, conducting internal safety assessments. “We’ve done approximately 150 models in Asia so far already without any safety issues.”

The salon in SoHo is the first U.S. test, and he has high hopes it won’t be long before he can open salons elsewhere, including Boston.

Keep your eye on Mirakel Technologies.

John Farrell is the author of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaitre, Einstein and the Birth of Modern Cosmology from Basic Books. He writes about science, technology and media for Forbes.

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