Ming S. Zhao, co-founder and CEO at PROVEN Skincare took her company to the Sharks on ABC’s Shark Tank to see if she could get one of them to invest in the beauty company.
The co-founder pitched to Sharks Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, Daymond John and Guest Shark Anne Wojcicki, the founder of 23 and Me. The episode airs on Wednesday, May 6 at 10 p.m. / 9 p.m. Central on ABC.
Here’s what you should know about Proven Skincare:
1. They Are the First Skincare Company in the Tank in Five Years
Usually, Shark Tank doesn’t feature skincare companies, and they often shy away from anything that is difficult to back up by physicians since the Sharks want to be extremely careful to protect themselves from any litigation. PROVEN broke that mold, though, as they were the first skincare company to be featured on the show in five years.
“They felt we were doing something really innovative and disruptive in the industry so they wanted to make an exception,” Zhao told Heavy in an email about the first time they were approached by the show. “But at that time, I didn’t feel like we were ready because we were in the midst of working with our dermatologists and skin scientists to formulate our products. So I had a nice conversation with the producer but didn’t end up going forward.”
A year later, PROVEN had a successful open beta that served thousands of customers and had completed their formulations of skincare products as well as conducted clinical trials to confirm the efficacy of the products.
Since the producer she’d originally spoken to was no longer with the show, PROVEN ended up going to an open casting call and earning their way into the tank that way.
2. Zhao Has a Daughter the “Same Age” as PROVEN
Ming was pregnant when she was starting PROVEN, so her now two-and-a-half-year-old daughter is the same age as her company.
“At the time, friends who were entrepreneurs and who had begun before I did tried to warn me gently about the all-consuming nature of starting a company. They tried to tell me that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, that to raise two babies at the same time would be near impossible,” she said.
Instead of making PROVEN more difficult for her, though, she said her daughter has been a secret weapon for her while running the company.
“Because even when the days are long from working on making PROVEN a thing, even when it sometimes feels bleak, or even when it feels tedious or when others don’t believe in me, my daughter is always there to cheer me up, or just cuddle with me and keep my spirits stable,” she said. “Even now during quarantine, I relish our daily walks around the block with her tricycle.”
3. Zhao is a Third-Generation Entrepreneur
The PROVEN co-founder is no stranger to entrepreneurship or the challenges faced while starting a business. She said she is an immigrant as well as a third-generation entrepreneur.
“I immigrated with my parents to the US at the age of 12, not speaking a word of English. But even though my parents to this day don’t speak much English, they are not phased by much,” she said. “It is in the nature of immigrants who are not afraid to uproot their entire lives and social network to move to a foreign land to not be afraid of much.”
Her parents expressed some concern for her when she told them she was going to leave her well-paying job to start a company, but they were also very excited for her.
“Others in the family even expressed admiration that I was willing to make such a bold move,” she continued. “So I appreciate them for believing in me and for providing a psychological safety net.”
4. They Founded the Company Because They Saw a Need for Personalized Skincare Products
Zhau and her co-founder Amy Yuan started PROVEN because they saw the need for a personalized skincare line to exist. Yuan is a computational physicist from Stanford who “solved her own skincare woes by analyzing the effectiveness of more than 20,238 skincare ingredients, 100,000 products, 20 million testimonials, and 4,000 scientific journal articles to understand how different ingredients affect different individuals.”
After that, Zhau and Yuan partnered with leading Stanford dermatologists and skin scientists to formulate skincare products based on that knowledge base.
“What results is clinically effective skincare that’s personalized to you to give you good skin for life,” Zhau said.
5. The Skin Genome Project Is The “Most Comprehensive Skincare Database” In Existence
The skincare knowledge base they created, now called dubbed The Skin Genome Project, is the most comprehensive ever created according to the PROVEN website.
The project was the winner of MIT’s 2018 Artificial Intelligence Award, and the machine can analyze the effectiveness of those 20,238 skincare ingredients coupled with over 8 million testimonials from real people and the water hardness, humidity level and UV index where you live.
Tune into Shark Tank tonight, May 6, 2020, to see if PROVEN can score a deal with one of the sharks.