Proven Skincare: What Happened To The Brand After Shark Tank?

The skincare market is flooded with a plethora of products, from moisturizers and sunscreen sprays to serums claiming to erase wrinkles and smile lines. With so many brands to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find one that actually works. Often, you end up buying a product based on its marketing, only to be disappointed when it fails to deliver results. Ming Zhao, co-founder and CEO of Proven Skincare, knows this struggle all too well. That's why she joined forces with computational physicist Dr. Amy Yuan to create the Skin Genome Project, the largest skincare database, and subsequently, Proven Skincare.

Proven Skincare is a data-driven personalized skincare brand that uses the Skin Genome Project to determine the best formulations for your skin based on 47 factors, including skin type, concerns, and environmental factors like water hardness and humidity. To get a personalized recommendation, customers fill out a short survey on the Proven Skincare website. To expand their business and reach a wider audience, the co-founders pitched their AI-focused innovation to the Sharks on "Shark Tank" in search of funding.

Proven's Shark Tank pitch

Pitching ideas for funding can be daunting, and it certainly wasn't any easier for Ming Zhao, as Proven was the first skincare brand on "Shark Tank" in five years. Zhao presented her MIT award-winning skincare brand to the Sharks, seeking $500,000 for 5% equity in the company. During her pitch, the Proven co-founder offered the Sharks personalized skincare kits and highlighted some of the company's achievements. These included licensing its AI for use in the baby care industry for $3.5 million.

When the sharks asked about Proven's sales, Zhao mentioned that the company had done $110,000 in sales during the last couple of months but had spent $90,000 on Facebook ads. These figures left the Sharks unimpressed. Mark Cuban stated that the company was "buying" its sales with such a high customer acquisition spend. Anne Wojcicki and Lori Greiner opted out as they felt the timing and data available were too premature for them to invest in. For the other sharks, Daymond John was uninterested, while Kevin O'Leary divulged that her pitch was the litmus test for how effective his anger management classes have been. Overall, it was a "no" from the sharks, and Proven Skincare left without a deal.

Proven after Shark Tank

Although they left the show without a deal, the founders of Proven Skincare were undeterred. They enrolled in Y Combinator, an accelerator program that has helped numerous startups achieve success. However, both Ming Zhao and Amy Yuan became pregnant at the same time, which coincided with their Y Combinator batch. They were advised to defer their participation in the program until after having their babies. After returning to work, they achieved significant milestones.

When Proven Skincare appeared on "Shark Tank" during season 11, Ming projected sales of $65,000 for the company that month. However, thanks to the show's exposure and the demand they were meeting for customers, the brand's revenue surged to $10 million in 2020, and twice that in the following year. The company has also received funding from other investors, including Belcorp Ventures and Soma Capital. Although it did not secure a deal from the Sharks, Proven Skincare has achieved significant success in sales and with other funding sources.

Proven Skincare's many successes

Proven is one of many beauty companies that failed to secure a deal on "Shark Tank" but still managed to achieve success. It has since expanded into international markets like Canada and the UK, with plans to launch in China, Brazil, and Russia. Proven also appeared on the docuseries "Going Public," which allows viewers to invest in featured companies. With an optional skincare subscription plan, the brand has seen strong sales growth, generating over $37 million in revenue in its first three years of operation. Proven has amassed over 130,000 customers, with 80% of them being returning subscribers.

In addition to its sales growth and popularity among skincare enthusiasts, Proven has also earned several awards, including Glossy's 2022 best use of technology award and a Cosmopolitan 2023 Holy Grail Beauty Award. While companies like Curology and Apostrophe are making significant strides in customizable skincare, Proven is carving its own path as a leader in AI-backed personal care.

Proven is still proving itself

For co-founder Ming Zhao, it is vital that customers have a say in all aspects of their skincare, including the company's finances. In 2021, Proven went public by filing for a Reg A+, also known as a mini-IPO. This decision enables customers and brand enthusiasts to invest in the company, with different perks for the various tiers of investments they make. Furthermore, in 2023, Proven will become even more customer-focused as it finally enters physical retail in Sephora.

To Proven's credit, customers adore its iridescent bottles and jars of personalized skincare, and they have shared numerous positive reviews. This accomplishment is supported by the company's data on its new-to-returning customer ratio. As the brand expands, it has no plans to stop at skincare. Together with aesthetic dermatologist Dr. Hollmig, Harvard-trained COO Luke Weston, and Stanford molecular biologist Dr. Conley, the company plans to extend its offerings into the hair care, baby care, and supplements spaces.

As for Dr. Amy Yuan and Zhao, the two founders are doing just fine, with Yuan doubling as the CTO for Noteworthy, Proven's expansion into the personalized fragrance market. Proven's ideal may be relatively new to the skincare industry, but there is no doubt that these two co-founders possess the determination and tenacity required to go far.