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If you wanted the perfect case study of a market ripe for disruption, the beauty industry would be it. Globally, the sector is worth $155 billion a year but one in two customers is unhappy with their purchases, points out Ming Zhao, the founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. “We are changing that by giving individual consumers the right products for their skin at the right time.”

It’s a promise that has seen customers flock to the company, which is now launching a $60 million fund-raising round under the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation A regime. PROVEN ’s sales in 2019, the company’s launch year, came to less than $100,000. The figure rose to $10 million in 2020 and to more than $20 million during 2021.

Like so many of the best business ideas, PROVEN was inspired by its founder’s personal experiences. “I was working long hours away from home and I woke up one day and was just horrified by what I saw in the mirror – I looked like I’d lost my youth and my soul,” Zhao recalls. Purchases of expensive beauty products appeared to make no difference, but eventually Zhao met a beautician who took the time to find out more about her and recommend a tailored regime of skincare products. “It was transformational for me, and I just thought, ‘why is this not available to everyone?’,” Zhao says.

Zhao’s argument is that since everyone is different, it makes no sense to try to sell them all the same skincare and beauty products. “One size does not fit all,” she says. “The skin is the biggest organ of our bodies, yet it’s the only one for which we don’t personalise treatments.”

PROVEN Skincare founder Ming Zhao


To fulfill her vision of putting that right, Zhao turned to “the smartest person I know”. She teamed up with Amy Yuan, a data scientist and an engineer with a background in computational physics. Together, they developed the Skin Genome Project, the world’s largest beauty database; it comprises tens of millions of data points, ranging from consumer reviews of skincare products to academic studies of the efficacy of key ingredients. “We’ve ingested the known universe of skincare knowledge,” Zhao explains.

On top of that, PROVEN has built an …….


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