Robbie Salter and Ross Goodhart are taking a stab at it. As co-founders of Jupiter, the pair developed a line of hair care products that address this common malady that nobody really talks about, but impacts millions of people.
Both men are graduates of the University of Michigan. Goodhart has worked in investment banking and private equity, managing funds focused on consumer and tech investments in emerging markets. In 2015, he started Rohego, LLC to develop improved versions of existing home, kitchen and lifestyle products, based on deep data analysis of the consumer market. This side hustle turned into a thriving e-comm business with five consumer brands in the specialty kitchen, lifestyle, baby and home accessories niches.
Salter has worked in the entertainment industry, including Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Television and Whalerock Industries. Following graduate school, he went on to lead business development for Viacom’s creative consultancy, Scratch, before joining MediaLink in the spring of 2014.
Outside of their Wolverines background, there’s another common thread between the two: both have dealt with dandruff—so they know how their customers feel about their condition.
Such as being too embarrassed to ask for help in public.
When Salter was experiencing a flare up, he spent time Googling, of course. He also stopped into a big name pharmacy chain. “But I didn’t have anyone to talk to because the pharmacist had five people on line,” he told Happi.
Finally, after a conversation with a dermatologist who provided more insight into his condition and how to treat it, Salter saw an opportunity.
“This is like acne; you never really get rid of it entirely. You manage it. It is about management and maintenance,” Salter said. “And I thought about it; here could be the makings for an interesting business.”
With zero experience in personal care product development, the pair turned to an R&D consulting firm that “would Sherpa us through finding the right contract manufacturer,” Goodhart told Happi.
After 14-16 moths of work formulating and testing (active ingredients used in dandruff shampoo need FDA approval), the brand was ready for the marketplace with six products:
• Balancing Shampoo, with 1% zinc pyrithione, coconut oil and algae extract;
• Nourishing Conditioner, formulated with probiotics, vitamin E and colloidal oatmeal;
• Soothing Elixir, which is designed to be applied to dry scalp when symptoms occur and is formulated with oat kernel, eucalyptus;
• Restoring Serum, which promotes healthy skin cell turnover and contains .0125% zinc pyrithione as well as green tea and aloe vera;
• Purifying Mask, which is used 1-2 times per week to exfoliate, deep-clean and refresh the scalp with volcanic ash, argan oil and biotin; and
• Exfoliating Scalp Brush to help remove build-up and promote oxygen flow to the scalp.
Products are sold online through hellojupiter.com and are priced between $15 and $26.
Jupiter will be taking on the likes of Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders, which commands the lion’s share of the mass $500 million dandruff shampoo marketplace, and Nizoral which is a topselling brand on Amazon.
While it relies the same chemistry as market-leader Head & Shoulders (zinc pyrithione), Goodhart and Salter say the point of differentiation will be Jupiter’s products are proven safe for color and chemically treated hair. And there are other benefits; the shampoo is said to minimize breakage by 30%, and the entire suite is paraben, sulfate and phthalate-free as well as vegan, cruelty-free, and dye-free—all attributes designed to attract today’s consumers.
Jupiter’s website features a quiz, developed with its resident dermatologist, based around scalp care and lifestyle. The 2-3 minute-long assessment will provide customers with recommendations for the right products. And data that can be leverage to help Jupiter succeed, too.
“Data allows us to develop products people want based on that interaction with them, and also have that direct customer experience to give them the education that we think is lacking,” said Goodhart.
Jupiter’s founders are aiming to change the conversation around dandruff—shifting it away from what they say is medicinal, fear-based and does little help build one’s confidence.
They’ll do that with what they say is a great scent, stylish packaging (no more hiding the dandruff shampoo when guests are coming over) and language, too.
In fact, the brand’s mantra is #ZeroFlakesGiven, and it will donate 5% of its profit to support mental health initiatives.
“We want users to feel as good about what’s on their head as what’s in their head,” Salter said.