HairDays Awarded $256K NSF SBIR Phase I Award

professional headshot of dr tiffany st bernard

HairDays Awarded $256K NSF SBIR Phase I Award

Tech startup and I-Corps alumni, HairDays, Inc. is innovating the hair care industry through AI, machine learning, and data science-backed technology. Founded by Dr. Tiffany St. Bernard, Cornell Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and hair tech pioneer, the company recently received a $256K NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Award. HairDays is an AI-powered intelligence platform that empowers individuals to take their hair health into their own hands through hyper-personalized hair and scalp care recommendations. 

By providing scientifically-backed guidance on hair care, HairDays aims to bridge the gap that disproportionately prevents many members of marginalized communities of color from obtaining access to quality products and care insights. The app matches users with products and regimens based on their hair profile and goals. By bringing suggested products from HairDays’ platform into their daily life, users can mitigate scalp and hair health conditions like alopecia, breakage, and contact dermatitis; all of which can be caused by unsuitable hair products and care practices. 

“HairDays’ futuristic approach to hair and scalp analysis was inspired by my personal hair loss to hair care journey after being hospitalized. When assessing medical conditions and symptoms, hair status is often overlooked, when in fact, it can be a key indicator of overall health,” said Dr. St. Bernard. “A wide range of standard hair products offered on the consumer market are non-inclusive in their development. We are helping support those most affected by this: mainly health-averse individuals, women, and members of BIPOC communities.” 

With the NSF SBIR award, Dr. St. Bernard plans to develop the platform’s hair profile and product-matching algorithms, bringing the app closer to a more equal, informed, and scientifically-backed future of empowerment through hair health. Additionally, the funding will support a comparative study with dermatology residents to validate and improve the hair profile classification system. 

Following the completion of her Ph.D., Dr. St. Bernard took part in the Cornell Tech Runway Startup Postdoc Program, where she was able to continue working towards the launch of HairDays. Since then, Dr. St. Bernard has been deeply engaged in the Upstate New York entrepreneurship ecosystem, advancing the startup through the May 2021 I-Corps regional course hosted by the University of Rochester. She also participated in the SBIR/STTR Assistance Program offered by NYSTAR and administered by the Cornell University Center for Regional Economic Advancement. The assistance program provides eligible startups with funding to hire an SBIR/STTR consultant to aid them as they navigate the application process. 

“The lessons learned throughout the I-Corps program were instrumental in helping to refine our value proposition and go-to-market strategy,” said Dr. St. Bernard. “This foundation, combined with our NSF SBIR award, will support HairDays in positively impacting thousands of platform users during their hair health journey.”