The awards keep coming for Preemadonna, the Carlsbad-based company run by 30-something entrepreneur Pree Walia.
Walia, a native of Louisiana who moved to San Diego County last year, was a recipient this month of an Innovation Award from the Consumer Electronics Show for her company’s first creation, Nailbot.
Nailbot is an at-home, intelligence-using fingernail art/manicure system that prints art and photographs from smartphones onto nails, an experience that takes about five seconds, said Walia, CEO and founder of Preemadonna.
She says that “a lot of my heart is in this product” and notes that the mission of her company remains “powering creative expression through really fun interactive hardware and software experiences.”
The award, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show held Jan. 5-7 in Las Vegas (and online), comes on the heels of the company’s accolades as a finalist in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield, the Amazon Alexa Fund & All Raise Women Founders Represent, the Silicon Valley Robotics Launch and Women’s Venture Summit.
Preemadonna also took top honors in FounderMade Future of Beauty and was the Investor & Audience winner at the Silicon Valley Forum Women in Tech Festival.
How It All Started
Walia’s company has raised $5.8 million in seed funding to help launch her company. Preemadonna first started raising capital in January 2018.
Some of the company’s investors include Halogen Ventures, Draper Associates Investments, the Amazon Alexa Fund, Shrug Capital and Two Small Fish.
Early individual investors and entrepreneurs include Tara Bosch, founder of SmartSweets; Markus Friend, founder of Plenty of Fish; Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot; and Charles Huang, founder of Guitar Hero.
Angela Tran, general partner at Version One Ventures, is also a backer, and, she says, with good reason. “Pree is one of the most determined entrepreneurs that we’ve ever met, on a mission to power creative expression in beauty,” Tran said.
“At first glance, Preemadonna with its consumer hardware and beauty products, doesn’t seem like the typical startup in the Version One portfolio,” Tran added. “However, as big fans of network effects, we see long-term defensibility through the community of Gen Z creators via the Nailbot mobile app art marketplace which accompanies the physical product experience.”
Walia first thought up the idea for the artistic nail system back in 2013 when she was living in San Francisco, years after she graduated from Northwestern and received her MBA at the University of Chicago. She calls herself resilient and laughed a little when labeling her company “an eight-year overnight success story.”
As for Nailbot’s genesis, she said she persevered with her dream of seeking to answer the question: ‘What would a girl from Mississippi love?’
Walia said she has learned through the years that there is no such thing as an overnight success and that “you’ve got to put the time in.”
She added that her biggest lesson learned and best advice she can give to young, upcoming entrepreneurs is “to think about what effort and time you have to give to this idea, or product or venture. Think hard about it because there’s no such thing as an overnight success. You get the most satisfaction also with the amount of grit you put into something.”
One of Fastest Growing Beauty Categories
Nails are one the fastest mass market beauty categories and expected to continue to gain momentum as COVID-19 prompts more people to try beauty products in their homes.
According to a report from Globe Newswire, the global nail care market will reach $11.6 billion by 2027. The report said that the global market for nail care was estimated at $9.9 billion in 2020. The U.S. market was estimated at $2.7 billion that same year.
Walia said the first drop of the product of 1,000 items was shipped to early investors in time for the 2021 holidays. She said the company is currently taking orders for the second drop.
Walia said she thinks everyone has a unique superpower. “One of my unique superpowers has been that I’m gritty,” she said. “I’m willing to stick with something through the highs and lows if I really believe in it. Timing also has to be right for the venture.”
CEO: Pree Walia
CAPITALIZATION: Raised $5.8 million in seed funding
NOTABLE: Nailbot’s first drop sold out and shipped in December; company currently taking orders on second drop, to be shipped early this summer.