Dr. Bernard graduated from Cornell with a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. She later went on to earn her Ph.D. from Cornell in biomedical/neural engineering. She is the founder of HairDays, a platform that leverages artificial intelligence to map the Hair Genome™ bringing hyper-personalization to the confusing haircare discovery process saving customers time and boosting sales for businesses.
Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
When I struggled with health issues and hair loss, I felt alone and struggled to find solutions. As a consumer, there is a lot of noise to navigate through regarding hair health. I have always been motivated to solve problems and lean on my community, so I founded HairDays, a science and community-focused haircare startup.
If you could go back in time before you started your business, what would you tell yourself?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to stay focused and excited! When starting a new business, it is easy to get frustrated when things are delayed or do not go as planned. Through my experience, I have found that you can consistently move the needle by staying on track and getting things done within your power. This mindset will help you be productive.
What has been the greatest challenge that you have faced on your entrepreneurial journey?
While building HairDays, I have found that my greatest challenge is embracing the wait. Being so passionate makes it difficult when ideas do not immediately come to fruition as quickly as you think it should. However, through the waiting period of building HairDays, I have learned the importance of using this time to perfect our service for our users.
What are you most proud of about your journey and/or company?
I am most proud of the community that HairDays is building. Through HairDays, people can find solutions to their hair health problems, which significantly impact our confidence in daily life. It is inspiring to combine my scientific knowledge with my struggles and background and I encourage other entrepreneurs to do the same.
Entrepreneurs wear many hats and must quickly become a master of all trades, so how do you find mentors and foster connections along the way?
I have found that openness and confidence are vital in building connections as a founder. I focus on being authentic and practicing good listening skills when I meet new people.
Do you have any piece of advice for Cornellians starting out their own entrepreneurial journey?
It is easy to isolate yourself and focus on your goals as founders. Be bold and embrace your community. As Cornellians, we are prepared to face the challenges that entrepreneurs face. My advice to my fellow entrepreneurs is to lean on those around you! Your community fuels your success; do not be afraid to ask them for their support.
What role has the Cornell network played along your career?
As a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell Tech in the Runway Program, I am still very connected to the Cornell network. Cornell has invested in me and my venture HairDays, Inc., financially and through hands-on mentorship. When I was still a PhD candidate, I was able to gain leadership experience through a myriad of organizations, including serving as a fund manager at BR Venture Fund.
What do you miss about being on campus the most?
I miss the network of intellectuals and community of trailblazers innovating in a vast array of domains. Everyone in Ithaca is studying something interesting or building something useful, and it’s an amazing environment to live, learn, and work in.