BeautyLynk Beauty Link | City of Ideas

Posted 11/02/2016 by James Burnett

Meet Rica Elysee, founder and CEO of BeautyLynk.com.

In case you don't have time to click the link, BeautyLynk is a mobile hair styling and makeup service. Think Uber for beauty, except instead of rides, Elysee's team members come to you, wherever you are and cut and/or style your hair, apply your makeup, do you nails, etc.

Here's what Elysee told BostInno last year before her launch: “Currently, to get personalized beauty services when and where you want means you would have to plan, find, hire, and pay a crew to come to a specific location at a certain time,” she told me in an email interview. “BeautyLynk takes that entire process, repackages it, and makes it available for individual services. It only takes a few clicks or taps through our website or app to get service.”

Great service, right? With great respect to Elysee, there was a time in the not too distant past that business incubators simply weren't aware of people like Elysee or innovations like BeautyLynk. We can debate all day as to why, but the important thing is that startup business people of color and women were seeing less opportunity for grooming and mentoring than were their white and male counterparts.

MassChallenge, one of the world's largest startup incubators, acknowledged and embraced this problem. The Boston Foundation jumped in and offered a way to diversify MassChallenge's entrepreneur classes. In the "off season" we would fund additional classes of entrepreneurs at MassChallenge, comprised exclusively of women and people of color. And we'd make sure they got the same attention, grooming and mentoring as did their mostly white and male predecessors.

The abbreviated version of this story is that several startup businesses in our "minority" MassChallenge cohort worked their way to great success, including BeautyLynk, Minus the Moo, a growing lactocse-free ice cream maker, and Makomas, an African-fruit juice company started by Magbè Savané, a Roxbury resident and native of Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa. Minus the Moo and Makomas are available in Whole Foods and other supermarkets today.

But back to BeautyLynk. I have no doubt that Elysee would have found her way to success if there were no Boston Foundation and no MassChallenge. But there is no doubt that our ability to take her in and usher her into the MassChallenge fold helped grow more quickly what was a fantastic idea.

Today, Elysee operates BeautyLynk in Boston, Atlanta, and Washington DC, and she's planning on expanding the service to additional cities in 2017.

So back to that question I get so often about examples of how we've helped organizations - nonprofit and for profit - find their success? This is it.

Kudos to BeautyLynk, Minus the Moo, Makomas, and all the other MassChallenge success stories out there.

@JamesBurnett

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