Two University of Texas at Austin students D’azhane Cook and Ariel Lee have been accepted into Target’s Incubator, a newly created program that helps the next generation of innovators jumpstart their products and services.
Cook and Lee are the founders of Remane.co, a natural haircare startup focused on personalization that they created while participating in the Product Prodigy Institute, an undergraduate course within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement that helps students launch their products into the market.
As members of this year’s Target Incubator, they will connect with corporate leaders and mentors who will help them along their entrepreneurial journey. Lee and Cook are among seven other companies that were selected into the program based on their visions to promote social good.
Now in its second year, the focus of the Target Incubator is to help diverse entrepreneurs build their skills in negotiations, branding, pitching and more. Participants will also connect with a network of like-minded entrepreneurs and mentors.
Rubén Cantú, executive director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said he is proud to watch both of his promising students shine as they further develop their venture in this prestigious program.
“Remane.co is a testament of how the DDCE is investing in creating new opportunities for diverse students,” Cantú said. “The Product Prodigy Institute is designed to take students who are curious about entrepreneurship through experiential learning and have them launch a real company. We salute and congratulate their hard efforts and expect many more successes from them.”
In fall 2019, Lee and Cook launched Remane.co with a haircare toolkit composed of a variety of everyday essentials for African American hair. The students demoed the toolkit at several events, including the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency Pitch Competition, where they won first place.
“Our mission with Remane.co is to empower our tribe along this journey of nurturing healthy, natural hair by focusing on information accuracy, personalized hair care and community,” said Cook, a senior in the McCombs School of Business.
Lee, a studio art senior, said she and Cook created this product with the goal of improving equity for the African American community.
“We want to innovate in an area that hasn’t been innovated in quite a while,” Lee said. “Natural hair is exciting because it is a moving target and is always changing and evolving. Because of that it can be difficult for naturals to understand their hair. Within our community there is so much coded in our hair and we hope to be able to contribute positively to the journey of going natural.”
Cantú said Lee and Cook are among many other talented Product Prodigy students who will soon be entering the market with world-changing business ventures. He encourages supporters to give to the program, which is designed specifically for underrepresented students—many first generation—who come from diverse backgrounds.
“If you would like to support more students like Ariel and D’Azhane, please consider contributing your donations to The Office of Inclusive Innovation so we can create more opportunities to serve many more students from underrepresented backgrounds,” Cantú said. “Supporting this work will deliver exponential returns and become one of the best investments of your dollars in the pursuit of an equitable future for all.”