As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Behind the scenes with a Grommet…and what we learn from mailmen

Living Proof Anti Frizz products

Investigating Living Proof was an inspiring field trip for Joanne and Wendy.  They came back all abuzz and couldn’t talk fast enough about their experience.  Here’s some of what we couldn’t convey in today’s video:

  • Mitch De Rosa offered to do Joanne’s hair too, but she couldn’t take the time…she’ll surely be back.
  • The Living Proof CEO, Rob Robillard, is a card.  You get glimpses of that in the video.
  • They interviewed Dr. Daniel  Anderson in the laboratory.  Dan is a founder of the company, and a heavy duty scientist from the David H Koch Institute for integrative Cancer Research at MIT.  Unfortunately, we interviewed him in the laboratory and there was a machine running in the background.  The audio overlay was so distracting that we couldn’t use it.
Dr. Daniel Anderson
Dr. Daniel Anderson

The company is located in the R and D heart of Cambridge, in the shadow of MIT.  This is not your typical suburban beauty products company.  It is a technology company.  For instance, Joanne and Wendy met Dr. Betty Yu and Dr. David Puerta.  These two work in collaborative clusters adjacent to the laboratory ( in cubicles ) Joanne said, “This further illustrated the scientific underpinnings of the company.”   Dr. Betty Yu was the first employee and is Director of Skincare and New Materials.  Her bio is amazing.  (Hmmm….can’t wait to see what new Skincare science she cooks up!)

Dr. Betty Yu
Dr. Betty Yu

Regarding Dr. David Puerta, is the Principal Scientist–Hair Discovery.   Joanne said, “Every person we spoke to mentioned David in conversation.”

Dr. David Puerta
Dr. David Puerta

Finally, we look at companies from a lot of angles. (I hear that venture capitalists interview the receptionist, on the sly, when looking at a company.  We like to do our own field work,too.)   In the case of Living Proof, here’s what you can learn from the postman.

Gavin, the neighborhood letter carrier. made his delivery as Joanne and Wendy were being welcomed at the reception desk.  Clearly a champion chatter, Gavin told his own version of the Living Proof story, paraphrased here:

“Day after day I would come here and people with lab coats would be streaming in and out of the place.  There was no sign.  No one said what they did.  It was all very mysterious.  Especially because outside this icognito main door, they would always have racks and racks of real human hair drying.  All colors.  All types.  I would think to myself, ‘What are these people doing?  They’re really strange here.”

Here’s a video of the moment, too.  (We’re clearly all Gavin fans, already.)

You can see in the video that Gavin told this story in front of the CEO, Rob, and other team members, who split their sides laughing.  Bottom line: they treated the mailman just like one of the family.  The whole place had a lively, friendly vibe–Wendy said it was welcoming, smart and fresh.  Gavin was clearly part of the appealing fabric of Living Proof.   That was nearly as impressive to Joanne and Wendy as the rest of their amazing story, because we find that kind of humanity generally bodes well for our customers, as we introduce them to a new company.

P.S.  Wendy is still happily using her Living Proof crème, four weeks later and her hair is rarely frizzly ‘tall.

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