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Until Baldness Has a Better Cure, There's Hair Storage

April 29, 2002|MICHAEL LIEDTKE | ASSOCIATED PRESS

As entrepreneurs cast about Silicon Valley for lucrative new ideas, Mike Blaylock thinks he has found a gold mine in an underground vault filled with hair.

The shorn tresses come from the heads of men and women who dread the day they might go bald.

Blaylock's San Francisco start-up, Hairogenics Inc., is offering to preserve the strands until science finds a better cure for baldness. He reasons that if sheep already can be cloned, it's only a matter of time before some biotechnology firm finds a way to duplicate real hair.

When that day comes, Blaylock says, bald people will be glad they paid Hairogenics to stash their hair in a climate- controlled vault 14 feet below a Portland, Ore., hair salon. The cost: $49.95 for the initial hair-collection kit and a $10 annual storage fee after that.

"This is a sensitive issue for a lot of men out there," said Blaylock, 32, whose own locks are receding. "We definitely think there is going to be plenty of demand for this kind of service."

Hairogenics, funded with less than $100,000, can't accept just any hair deposit. The company needs a dry sample so the tufts can be placed in a vacuum-sealed, waterproof package.

Hairogenics already has signed up nearly 200 customers, even though the start-up isn't officially opening its doors until today.

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