Robina Verbeek and Susanna Twarog met a decade ago working on Wall Street, traveling often for client projects and spending a majority of their time on trading floors. They started to notice an unfortunate common thread during their travels of poor access to products needed day to day—items as crucial yet simple as tampons, hair ties, skincare, and even deodorant. With no engineering or retail background, they set out to fix the distribution point of everyday necessities for people when they leave their house to ensure they have access to what they need when they need it most.
They’ve designed the machines to transition from an interactive shopping grid to creative content, ads, and campaigns—giving brands access to targeted, location-specific audience data; high-value impressions and interactive media; and product distribution. The privacy-protected and anonymized data and insights they have based on the product they’ve built are invaluable for the brands they’re working with.
Brand Founder: Susanna Twarog, Robina Verbeek
Founded: January 2020
2023 Full Year Expected Revenue Range: $10MM
Categories: Retailer, Skincare, Marketing
Funding Rounds: Seed
Total Funds Raised: $4.5MM
In November 2021, SOS raised a $3.4 million funding round led by early-stage investor For Later LLC, as well as leading executives and founders in real estate, retail, advertising, marketing, sports, and entertainment.
Notable Investors: Shahid Khan (Owner of Jacksonville Jaguars, investor), Techstars (investor), Ju Rhyu (Hero Cosmetics, investor), James Elterman (Former FAB, current Skinfix CFO, investor), Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots, investor)
Notable Advisors: William Maffe, Linda Wells, Thayer Lavielle, Jeff Crip
Has your brand participated in any form of an accelerator program?
Techstars Boston 2020
What are some of your key business initiatives for 2023?
In 2023, we’re committed to getting SOS in front of millions of more people where curated, top-quality personal care products are needed the most. You’ll see the machines popping up in new high-traffic areas, like our partnership with Rockefeller Center that launched in Q4 2022 and an exciting focus on sports and entertainment venues nationwide.
As SOS continues to grow, we’re faced with new, unique opportunities to help deepen customer engagement and loyalty for our partners. The increase of machines placed in public spaces means more reported consumer insights and trends that we’re able to collect to better understand the needs of the communities we serve.
What are you most proud of having accomplished?
We’re grateful for the opportunity to change and improve access to a universally needed product and help make the world more equitable for all. Robina and I had no true tech experience before brainstorming the vision of SOS, but we knew there had to be an elevated solution to the problems we were facing. As female founders and inventors, we’re proud of how far we’ve come but know that the rate of women success stories in the venture capital world is not nearly what it should be. In 2021, just 2.4% of venture investments were in female-founded companies, and there is a dismal number of VCs being run by women. With the growth of SOS, we hope to inspire women to invest and people to invest in more women.
What has been the biggest surprise since the brand was founded?
How many men use our machines! We built our business with a mission of elevating access to free period care and high-quality wellness and beauty products and in doing so have delivered a solution where everyone benefits. Whether it's a lip balm, sunscreen, fragrance, or hair styling product—we have something for everyone!
What aspect of your brand DNA fuels your competitive advantage?
SOS was founded for us, by us. Every aspect of SOS, from the design of the hardware, the shopping grid, and UX, to the brands and products we carry, is intentionally curated to create a delightful elevated experience for our customers. SOS is the brand you know and trust to deliver the products you need from the brands you love in the places you need them most.
Please share your insight on the future of the beauty industry.
We have seen growing demand from both retailers and brands to introduce high-value, targeted engagement with their customers everywhere they go. By expanding media opportunities in store, retailers are building more opportunities for brands to connect with their customers, collect data, and drive conversion. SOS delivers the most sophisticated solution for in-store, interactive retail media while also introducing product discovery opportunities via automated retail. SOS has capitalized on these trends, combining high- value media with convenient, elevated, customer-driven product discovery and is seeing growing demand for distribution within retail, sports, entertainment, and transit locations nationwide.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
"If you don't ask, the answer is always no"—from our SOS investors and advisors to our brand and location partners, building SOS is testament to the fact that the only way to build the business of your dreams is to ask people to join you on the journey. You may be surprised by how many people jump at the opportunity!
Paying it forward, what advice would you give to someone contemplating launching a beauty brand?
Make it personal. The strongest brands and success stories come from teams that are not shy to share founding stories and the identity behind a product or brand launch! Creating community and connection is integral to building consumer engagement.
If you could change one thing in the beauty industry, what would it be?
Consumers are seeking to find more value from their purchasing experiences—whether physical or digital. By addressing a real need, our machines not only solve a problem but also introduce unique ways to surprise and delight customers—whether that be through product discovery or interactive media.
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