When siblings Oran Holtzman and Shiran Holtzman-Erel co-founded Il Makiage in 2018, they knew that technology was going to be the driving force behind their makeup company. After all, the direct-to-consumer brand was preparing to rely on the latest tech to make sure online shoppers could most accurately select from dozens of shades of foundation and concealer.
With its recent acquisition of $40 million-plus Voyage 81, a hyperspectral imaging software company, Il Makiage intends to break new ground.
“We wanted to add computer vision technology that would work in beauty and wellness,” said Oran, whose brand is based in New York and Tel Aviv. “It will allow us to extend our vision capability. We wanted to find an interesting start-up in that field. And with Voyage81, this technology can be a game-changer for so many industries. In beauty and wellness especially, it’s very strong. It allows us to run faster, to enter new countries and categories.”
Voyage81, also based in Tel Aviv, was co-founded three years ago by Niv Price, who had previously run research and development for the Israeli Defense Forces. The company’s hyperspectral algorithms allow for 31 wavelengths of color to be detected; a normal smartphone photo detects just three: red, blue, and green. The technology changes the way in which skin and hair can be analyzed, as well as refining how facial blood flow is detected and melanin and hemoglobin maps are created.
“Before we met Oran, we had no plans to sell,” said Niv. “We were well-capitalized. But after we met him and learned about his plans, we saw huge value in being able to serve hundreds of millions of consumers. And that was our founding goal, to make a real impact.”
Moving forward, Niv said that the software, with its combination of vision and data, “will open up the opportunity to monitor and recommend what’s right for” customers, he said. “The synergy will really boost users’ online experience, both in existing offerings and in opening up exciting possibilities for beauty and wellness brands.”
From an end-consumer standpoint, the alliance between Il Makiage and Voyage81 will allow the beauty brand’s millions of customers to have access to almost fool-proof matching capabilities, with almost all of the guesswork removed. Oran said the software will be applied to his upcoming initiatives, including the launch of a new wellness brand at the end of 2021, and the eventual unveiling of a third brand. This year, Il Makiage will hit $250 million in sales online, having attracted a zealous fan base from its early days by using influencers and bold messaging and visuals.
“Pre-COVID, consumers were making more than 80 percent of their purchases off-line,” said Oran. “We saw a lot of scope. There was a huge gap of knowledge between brands and consumers, and so we built an algorithm with the goal of changing how consumers shop for beauty online. Although we are a digital brand, we are profitable with strong margins. We built a business on the basis of technology and data, and my intention is to continue to invest and to create a better user journey.”