Are you tired of paying ridiculous prices for cosmetics which you’ll only need for one or two occasions? Are you tired of constant trips to the store constantly trying to find the perfect colors for your body? If you answered yes to these questions, then the Mink is the solution to your problems.
Launched on the stage of TechCrunch Disrupt NY, the Mink creates a unique niche for 3D printing by allowing virtually anyone to print cosmetics on demand from a mobile device, desktop device or even a camera. The process is fairly simple and simply involves selecting the specific hexadecimal code of the desired color and then sending it to the printer like a standard document.
The full pitch can be seen below:
Not a replacement for the store, yet
Although the Mink is currently being pitched as a way for anyone to print cosmetics – the “click to print” element currently only applies to blush, eye shadow, and lip gloss. When asked by a Disrupt judge about shaking up the entire cosmetics industry by producing lipsticks and other products, Choi skirted around the question and failed to provide a basic response addressing the fact the printer wouldn’t be able to handle those cosmetics.
Is this safe?
Currently the Mink is still in it’s infancy meaning it has yet to stand the test of time. One of the biggest wildcards with the Mink is the safety of the pigments and substrate used by the printer. Although the cosmetics industry is technically not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many traditional manufacturers have significant resources and proven track records to back their products.
The recent recall of the Fitbit Force is a perfect example of why early adopters should be careful of any new products from startups they are putting on their body.
When judges pressed the question of testing, Choi simply said she tried the Mink products on herself and hasn’t yet had any issues. She did however say that she intends to pursue lab testing of the substrates and pigments to ensure the safety of their users.
Can This Succeed?
In a world of inkjet printers being sold for as little as $21, will customers be willing to pay $300 for a printer, plus the cost of materials, I’m a bit skeptical of the price. In particular, the Mink is targeting the 13-21 crowd which doesn’t typically have +$300 lying around for new gadgets.
One of the judges at Disrupt suggested that Choi lower the price of the Mink to $99 (a magic number when it comes to electronics sales), and then make most of the money off of high-margin substrates, bases and other components used to print the cosmetics. Choi however said that she wanted to keep the price of the Mink high due to the existence of generic cartridges which can easily undercut her material sales.
As Choi mentioned herself, the ink market is beyond saturated with knockoff cartridges so keeping her margins high will prove difficult. Additionally protecting her intellectual property will likely bankrupt her before a case even hits the first pre-trial motions because current case law has ruled in favor of generic cartridge makers.
$300 is way too high for a one-off cost, and even if the price is able to be lowered, we have yet to see what the actual costs of the pigments and other substances will be.
Aside from cost, one needs to consider the fact that the substances used by the Mink have yet to be tested by independent labs, so the safety of such substances is far from known. Factoring the cost of laboratory testing into the development of the Mink, it’s just another major liability added to this device.
Speaking as someone who was attending Disrupt, sitting in the third row from the stage – as impressive as this concept is, I was not impressed by the pitch and handling of questions by Choi. I will give credit that the concept is a novel use of 3D printing, however she failed to provide answers to basic questions posed by the judges.
The lackluster pitch combined with the previously mentioned points in this article leave me to think this is a novel application of 3D printing but I’m not sure the numbers will really make sense. Unless there are licensing deals made with the major cosmetic companies (a total long shot), I doubt the Mink will ever hit mass market appeal.
Of course, the Mink can change over time and this analysis is based on the TechCrunch Disrupt presentation. What are your thoughts? Would you buy the Mink? Tell us in the comments section!