Kisaco Research’s Beauty & Money Summit moved to Los Angeles for a conference in April. The conference provided 12 independent beauty brands the spotlight to present their businesses in a quick-fire round of presentations to jumpstart the conference. Fundraising is stressful in the most controlled situations, so we’ve circled back with spotlight brands for our own three-question follow-up.
No B.S. Beauty has stripped away all the bullshit to create a new kind of skincare, with potent plant-based natural ingredients, powerful scientifically proven heavy hitters and none of the bad stuff, without being overpriced, over-packaged and overly complicated to use. Their products are sold primarily on the company’s website to facilitate direct communication with the consumer.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? Beauty is an $11 billion industry—much of it built on bullshit, telling you who to be and what to buy. Birdpoop facials, $300 bottles of caviar serum, 24-K gold masks, the #pinktax … and the f*ing wage gap. The way we see it, there’s no longer a place for half-truths, hidden agendas, wonky ingredients, sponsored scientific studies and ads that highlight our insecurities to sell products. We stripped away all the bullshit to create a new kind of transparent skincare with potent plant-based natural ingredients, powerful scientifically proven heavy hitters and none of the bad stuff: No parabens, sulfates, harmful petrochemicals, artificial colorants, fragrances, and no phthalates. Plus our products are Vegan, gluten-free, and we would never ever dare to test on animals.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? No B.S. is for people that want a B.S.-free lifestyle, so the sky is the limit for us. We are already working on expanding into other sister categories like hair care, baby care, male grooming, but at the same time want to listen and learn from our consumers and work on innovation plans that cater to their specific needs. If you are in need of a B.S.-free product that does not exist yet, please let us know! We would love to make it for you.
What would your ideal investor look like? Our ideal investment deal would offer a lot more than just capital. We are looking for a true partnership in which we can continue to run our business freely but at the same time get constant consultancy and advice on key topics like distribution strategy, scalability, planning for aggressive growth, partnerships with other brands/industries/retailers.
SkinGenie is an AI skincare adviser that analyzes DNA and lifestyle, providing customers insights about their skin and helping them find the best products with the company’s product recommendation engine. SkinGenie currently features all of Sephora’s skincare products, and plans to add other merchants this year. The technology is available across multiple platforms, including a direct-to-consumer Skincare Advisor app, a SkinNome DNA report, and a DNA report created via a saliva test.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? SkinGenie is a beauty tech company that offers AI & DNA-based personalization with 3 revenue streams using the same core technology: 1) a Skincare Advisor App (launched), 2) SG Enterprise Services (launched and revenue generating), and 3) AI & DNA-based personalized brand of skincare (pre-launch).
We have built the world’s largest beauty database that is constantly updated. No company even comes close with respect to the number of genetic variants, biomarkers, traits, ingredients, products, etc. that we cover. We also have a dynamic, deep learning algorithm that automatically adds new scientific knowledge as it becomes available and gets smarter as it absorbs new genotype-phenotype data, customer reviews, and ingredient information.
Team: Co-Founders include Dr. Raya Khanin (Chief Science Officer), a top 20 Computational Genomics expert in the world with a PhD from Weizmann Institute;l Dr. Ali Mostashari (CTO), Complexities Science expert with a PhD from MIT in Technology Management; and Sindhya Valloppillil, who has 15 years of experience in the beauty industry in innovations and marketing working at L’Oréal, J&J, L Brands, and previously was head of marketing and product for ZIRH prior to its acquisition by P&G.
Revenue: $250K in sales since January 2018 launch, entirely self-funded to date.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Business Model: Akin to Meitu (China-based beauty tech co. with a $5B valuation) of the US with a D-to-C and B-to-B business. SkinGenie works for both the 15MM US consumers with DNA testing data and also everyone without DNA testing data (in this instance the personalization is based on AI, lifestyle quiz, reviews).
Accolades: 2018 CEW Finalist for Best Beauty App; won the top two awards at the J&J Digital Beauty Quickfire—the Innovation Award & the People’s Choice Award; Second Place in COTY’s Digital A.I. Accelerator (including $25K grant with no equity); named one of the Top 50 Retail Tech Startups Worldwide by Insider Trends; selected by XRC to be featured in the prestigious Emerging Tech Showcase of the Innovation Lab at the NRF 2018 Big Show.
In the works: Close to formalizing a partnership with a $50B biotech company for the co-development of a custom brand with global distribution.
What would your ideal investor look like? Since I am raising a $4-5MM equity round, my ideal investor is a super angel or VC firm that understands consumer brands as well as beauty and retail tech.
The brand was born out of the spa founder Rachel Roff opened in Charlotte, NC 12 years ago. Half of her clientele was African-American and Roff could not find products to effectively treat women with darker skin. To solve this business need she developed a skincare technology she calls Cleartone Advanced Technology and eventually created her own line of products. While she still operates the spa, the skincare business is where the opportunities are scaling quickly. The majority of revenue is being generated from the brand website but the product is also available at Target and other retailers.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? We have a very strong point of differentiation within the skincare category. We specialize in corrective skincare for diverse skin tones. We have over 30 products that effectively work on the most common concerns and skin conditions within Melanin Rich Skin. 90% of our consumers are African American Women. Our products specifically target hyperpigmentation (uneven skin tone) and although its effective on fair skin tones, our products works far better then most other brands on uneven skin tone on skin of color.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? We have a very successful direct to consumer business, it is growing roughly 150% YOY. We recently launch in target and after 3 months have been so successful that they have dramatically expanded door count for July as well as have taken additional products. 50% of online purchases come from previous customers, so our retention proves that our formulas and customer experience is working. We also have over 150k followers on IG alone.
What would your ideal investor look like? Someone who doesn’t just bring money to the table. In this day in age employee/talent recruitment can be a full time job, any help I can get with expert advice and resources into finding the right individuals to add to my staff is great. Also connections with retailers, labs ect are always an added bonus. Ultimately I want a partner that sees we are doing a great job making products that work for our customers and doesn’t want to change that but wants to help us strategically handle the fast pace growth of our company.
Singapore-based Allies of Skin was founded two years ago with three products and a a simple goal in mind: To create smart, effective products for the modern multi-hyphenate; using potent antioxidants and intelligent nutrients. The company’s products are distributed in 12 countries through Barneys, Bloomingdales.com, SpaceNK, Net-A-Porter, MrPorter and all Sephora Asia stores (starting in July).
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? Our unique value proposition is something we like to call “Supercharged Clinical.” We take clinically proven ingredients such as Vitamin C, Retinol, AHAs with years of proven efficacy and supercharge them. For example, the Retinol we use is Retinaldehyde which is one conversion rate away from Retinoic Acid (only available via a prescription) and encapsulated with cold-pressed oils, which enables it to be 20 times more potent than over-the-counter Retinol, without any of the traditional irritation. This is found in our 1A Overnight Mask. Instead of just simply using AHAs, we formulate and encapsulate them in a pure Hyaluronic Acid gel base which allows for intense hydration and plumping as skin is slowly exfoliated overnight. This technology is found in our Bright Future Overnight Facial. Innovation is at the core of our unique value proposition.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? With little investment in marketing, Allies of Skin has built a global channel partner ecosystem consisting of the most recognized luxury fashion and beauty retail and eCommerce companies including Sephora, Barneys New York, dermstore.com, Net-A-Porter, Mr. Porter, and SpaceNK on the strength of our brand image and the uniqueness of our product formulation strategy.
What would your ideal investor look like? We want more than money. Ideally an investor can bring knowledge about our industry, customers, or supply chain that would enable them to participate in and add value to thinking about how we grow as a company.
Saavy Naturals was founded by husband and wife team, Hugo & Debra Saavedra with a food industry background who describe themselves as “chefs, not chemists.” Saavy Naturals product development is guided by a food for you skin mentality created with food-grade ingredients, Vegan, Gluten-free, Non-GMO and sustainably sourced. Products is made in small batches in their own kitchen-factory to insure the quality. Products are sold and in a branded store located in Florida and on the company website. Saavy Naturals is also distributed in Whole Foods Market in the Northeast and Southern California regions, Gelson’s Market, Vitamin Cottage, Bristol Farms, Erewhon, Earth Fare, and Lazy Acres.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? Saavy Naturals is unique in that it was created by Chefs, not chemists, from 100% Food-grade ingredients. While not a gimmick, our products are, in fact, pure enough to eat. This is born out of our philosophy that what goes on your skin, goes into your body, so it should be as pure as the food you eat. We accomplish this without compromising a sensual, luxurious experience as well, because a good Chef creates an experience that engages all of your senses. And we do this at an affordable luxury price point!
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? That it’s the real deal! It’s amazing and unique – it has global appeal as well as tremendous legs in the marketplace. We are passionate, dedicated, relentless and authentic in every aspect, and we are intensely committed to growing our jewel of a brand into an extremely successful one.
What would your ideal investor look like? Our ideal investor aligns with our vision and values and has the resources beyond capital to assist us in growing Saavy Naturals strategically across channels.
Sam Marcel’s step into the beauty industry represents his fourth successful startup. With no experience in the beauty business he was inspired on a trip to Paris by a young girl he met whose looks were being decimated by cancer. He observed the pleasure she got from her beauty regimen and from helping other girls and women to feel beautiful. He resolved to create the highest-quality beauty products possible that are natural and affordable to help women who are victims of abuse and disease regain their emotional strength. Sam Marcel lives by the motto that art and beauty can change the world. Through the company’s partnership with the Look Good Feel Better Foundation, Sam Marcel Cosmetics helps seek volunteers that can improve the quality of life and self-esteem of people undergoing cancer treatment.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? We have developed an entire offering that has the highest quality in pigmentation. Our products won’t have any long-term effects on the skin like other brands. We are also developing an entire offering to color cosmetics which will be more functional so not only would it look good on because of its colors snd pigmentation, it will also have great benefits for your skin.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? Creating a new category (beauty care) that many fail to dominate in or lead with. The expansion of the category to cover both male and female and making beauty care a normal routine for both man and female to use every day.
What would your ideal investor look like? A investor that wants to disrupt the beauty industry.
Celebrity aesthetician Angela Caglia has been treating skin for 23 years, and last fall she launched a namesake skincare brand. The brand consists of five stockkeeping units that are produced in small batches in a certified organic lab, formulated with sustainably sourced meadow foam seed oil, an ingredient that has a similar structure to the body’s own sebum and is known to calm inflammation and acne. The products are distributed through Violet Grey, Revolve, Dermstore, Neiman-Marcus, and will soon be in Saks.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? We are the only multi-use, natural, prestige skincare line created by a renowned celebrity esthetician with a spa in Bel Air, Art Deco-inspired packaging, and unique hero ingredient story. We offer the ultimate luxury: green, spa-like experience at home.
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? The most important thing to know is that we launched in October 2017 and now have distribution at Saks, Neiman Marcus, SpaceNK, Dermstore, Violet Grey, Revolve, Anthropologie, and Net-A-Porter and Mecca in Australia, and also launched one of the hottest-selling beauty tools in the marketplace, i.e., our La Vie en Rose Face Roller in rose quartz. Plus, both soon-to-be husband-and-wife founders have a proven track record of success.
What would your ideal investor look like? Our ideal investor knows the beauty space, facilitates what we do best in terms of creativity and innovation, and has previously built a small company into a much much larger one.
RAINCRY was founded by Feisal Qureshi—he has worked on hair for over 30 years and is a salon owner. Hairbrushes are his most important tool, and the brushes he was accustomed to became unavailable, so he started making his own, and those became RAINCRY. The product line costs $55-$115 per brush and are made in France and Italy. Each brush serves a specific purpose; detangling, some are restorative and massage the scalp while you brush, while others are designed to bring natural oils from your scalp to the ends of your hair where they’re most needed.
What is the unique value proposition your brand or product brings to the category? The RAINCRY story began several years ago during a time when the industry was seeing a trend towards higher-priced blow dryers and flat irons. Unfortunately, hair brushes had not kept up with this trend as many European brush makers had collapsed, unable to compete with the low cost of the Far East. Back then, just like now, the market was flooded with low-cost, low-performance brushes, and we looked at creating our own. Each RAINCRY brush line has unique and exclusive designs, materials, and technology, and will create faster/easier blowouts regardless of the end-user. Today RAINCRY is the last full range of European-made brushes left in the world!
What is the most important thing an investor should know about your brand? RAINCRY is a luxury hair care brand that is committed to bringing high-quality, high-performance beauty products to market. Just 12 months ago, we launched our first 6 SKUs in Saks Fifth Avenue and now offer 14 brushes to most of the luxury retailers across the US. Hair brushes are just our Trojan horse, however, and we are currently formulating 9 wet products that will complement and enhance each of our brush lines. Over the next 3 years, we also have an additional 37 products scheduled for launch to help market penetration and grow brand awareness.
What would your ideal investor look like? An ideal investor would not only provide capital and a sounding board to existing management, but also expertise to help accomplish corporate goals. Both parties must be willing to exercise a high degree of trust in each other’s experience and work together to help achieve fiscal goals and expectations. Both management and investor(s) must be equally passionate and committed to the vision and ensure that expectations and goals are clearly outlined and met.
Photo: Marcos Luis via Unsplash