Most people use skincare products without any real thought to the ingredients that are contained in them. SkinNinja changes that through its app that analyzes over 200K ingredients, matching it with expert evidence, so consumers can make informed decisions on their choice of skincare products. The app can currently identify ingredients from over 800K products within the global cosmetics and personal care market, which is estimated to be worth $491.8B.
London TechWatch chatted with CEO and founder Jo Osborne to discuss its latest round of funding and how her background inspired her to create this startup.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $1M/£750k in Seed funding. Voulez Capital led the round, including participation from Firestartr and the London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF).
Tell us about SkinNinja’s product.
SkinNinja is a free app that matches publicly available expert evidence and research (including The NHS and The World Allergy Organisation) on health risks associated with over 200K ingredients (including parabens & SLS).
SkinNinja then alerts users to those possible health risks i.e. carcinogens or contact allergens allowing users to make informed decisions on what they put on their skin.
What inspired you to SkinNinja?
I grew up in Australia with an allergy to sunscreen. At 26 I was diagnosed with skin cancer. Over the years, I’ve manage acne, rosacea and a raft of other sensitivities to various products that I tried along the way. I know from experience that the way skincare is currently labelled, it’s almost impossible to manage even one let alone multiple skin concerns.
I’m a lawyer by trade, but by passion, I’m an experienced entrepreneur. I’ve had a successful exit from Google and now my eyes are well set on disrupting the opaque, smoke & mirrors industry of health & wellness.
How is SkinNinja different?
Nothing exists at this scale for the UK market, with over 200K ingredients analyzed across 850K products – and growing.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
Although focused on the UK to launch, Sciapps has an international vision. Globally, the cosmetics and personal care market is continuously growing at an annual rate of 3.6%, and the 2018 global market size is $491.8B.
In the UK the overall BPC market is estimated to be £16.63B in 2018. The cosmetics market is a subset of overall BPC, and in the UK it was worth an estimated £9.379M in 2016.
What’s your business model?
Currently focused on B2C, users can scan products and on finding healthier alternatives, a small commission is taken for every sale. This investment round will see an investment to the proprietary tech stack which will drive our B2B business.
Why do you think it has taken so long for someone to come up with this idea?
We believe there is a sea of change happening amongst consumers. The demands for transparency and ethical businesses has grown exponentially over the past few years. The time for SkinNinja is now.
What was the funding process like?
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have found a like-minded lead investor in Voulez Capital – an investor solely focusing on female-led startups. As an all-female team, we’ve of course been met with some challenges but are thrilled with the resulting oversubscribed investment.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Delivering the business opportunity to predominately male VCs perhaps not as close to the demands women face on skincare requirements and the industry at large. There is a study which shows the average woman applies 16 products per day – largely from makeup and on average a more thorough skincare regime then men. However, this is also changing as more and more men are becoming interested in skin and self-care with 15% of UK male under-45s bought makeup in 2016.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Voulez Capital’s Founder & CEO, Anya Navidski describes the investment as:
“We are very proud to have SciApps as our inaugural investment. This company and its technology platform will bring much needed clarity, transparency and accountability to the skincare and personal products sector. We welcome Jo Osborne, SciApps founder and an outstanding entrepreneur, into the Voulez Tribe of female founders. She is a great example of how women can build great technology companies to tackle genuine problems and to create real value.”
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Invest in the team, expand and continue our B2B offering.
What advice can you offer companies in London that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the ban
Use your network and take every opportunity to meet potential partners or investors.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity in London?
Since I’m allergic to sunscreen & high skin cancer risk, I stay as far out of the sun as possible but as an ex-triathlete, I enjoy running.