Carolina Reis Oliveira on developing the first cosmetic product that reverses aging at the molecular level with OneSkin
Describe your business in a few words?
OneSkin is a Silicon Valley-based, venture-backed Biotech company that developed the first cosmetic product that reverses aging at the molecular level. After 5 years of leading research by a team of PhDs, we launched our flagship product, OS-1, which is debunking the anti-aging industry with a unique approach to tackle the aging cells of skin. OneSkin’s masterplan is to become a full-fledged longevity platform not just for skin, but for every organ of the human body.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I was always passionate about the potential that science has to significantly improve human health and well-being, and I always knew my purpose would lie in connecting those dots. In addition, I was deeply inspired by my brother and my father, who were also entrepreneurs by heart, and have both made a tremendous impact in the development of the ecosystem in which they were involved. I was also drawn to the idea of being the protagonist of my own destiny and not rely on other circumstances to be able to make things that I thought were important, happen.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was finishing my PhD in stem cell biology and tissue engineering. I was involved in translational science research for almost 10 years before I jumped into my first venture.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Deep inside. I always knew it. My desire of bridging science and academia to solve unmet needs in the market was crystal clear. My parents raised me to be very independent, like a “free bird” that would fly to wherever life would take me, in order to fulfill my inner purpose.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We launched our flagship product very recently, at the end of February 2021, but we have been developing the science behind our product for the last 5 years. We have been advocating our work around skin health inside the longevity community for many years. Just last year, we participated in more than 10 longevity conferences and events. Most of our early adopters are people interested in extending their health and lifespan; scientists, biohackers, entrepreneurs, and they have been incredible brand ambassadors for us. We were also very fortunate to bring Peter Diamandis as one of our advisors, who is a well known futuristic leader and longevity enthusiast. He has a significant role and has helped us a ton in spreading the word about OneSkin.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
A lot of my mistakes were situations when I had a problem and I tried to find a quick fix, instead of the long-term and more laborious solution. One example was when I was accepted into an accelerator program 5 years ago, and they wouldn’t accept a solo founder, so I saw myself pressured to find a “co-founder” in less than two weeks to not lose this opportunity. I did find someone to join me on that program, but obviously, it didn’t work because I didn’t have enough time to become familiar with her and her skills. In the end, it caused more stress being with the wrong partner than being by myself. Looking back, I could have pushed back and explained that I would eventually find someone to join me along the way; someone that I trusted and believed could be the right partner to build what I was envisioning for the company. Many times in our lives, we rush to please others’ wills without questioning the potential consequences of that action. It’s easy to address what is urgent and forget what is really important.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Definitely the launch of our product. Being a scientist and developing the research for so many years, bringing the product to life was a dream coming true. It was the moment that you finally see all yours and your team efforts transforming into something that will now make a difference in so many lives. To me, nothing is more rewarding than reading each and every review or feedback from our consumers and learning how we can serve and make their lives better.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
What is the project that you have worked on in the past 5 years that you are most passionate about and why? You can learn so much about people’s values, drivers, accomplishments, their commitment and their ability to overcome challenges. You learn a lot more in the subliminal lines of this question than when asking straightforward questions. Other hiring tips include always having a cultural fit interview with someone that is not related to the position (this person won’t be biased by the need of hiring), ask for reference checks and never skip that step, hire people that are looking for more than a paycheck and want to create something meaningful out of their job.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has affected our business in different ways. One one end, we needed to be strong leaders and support our team throughout the stress and uncertainty we were all going through. These were challenging times for everyone. On the other hand, the general population has never been so interested in science and health in general, which is really what OneSkin is focused on. E-commerce business and skincare have seen a huge spike in the past year, and this has definitely built a favorable momentum in the industry we are inserted in.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
OneSkin is focused on staying in the frontier of the latest technologies and products being developed to tackle skin aging with the highest efficiency. With a team of longevity scientists and skin biologists, we are best capable to continue to optimize and evolve the products we launch in order to better serve our consumers. In addition to that, we see OneSkin as a platform for longevity products that will go beyond skin but will impact and improve the health of the whole body, allowing us to age in a healthy way that still maintains our vitality and our passion for life.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
That the most important things are the things we many times take for granted: our health, our freedom, our ability to see and touch our loved ones. All simple things, and yet, we can’t live without them.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish I knew I am enough. In the past, I doubted myself and my ability to take the company off the ground, or that I wouldn’t be able to do it without this or that person. Today, I see that I should have trusted myself more, and that, by doing my best every single day, I would eventually find a way through.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
My spirituality is what gives me strength in moments of uncertainty, which are very common during an entrepreneurial journey. Many times we are required to have faith in something that is bigger than us, but that somehow has everything “under control”. Trust that there is purpose in everything, and at the right moment, we will have consciousness of it all.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I come from a very small town in the countryside of Brazil and moved to the US by myself in 2016 to start OneSkin without knowing a single person in the Bay Area. The “free bird” was always ready to fly.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Focus on the most important things first, what will really move the needle for the company; use your morning for more creative activities (if that is the time your mind is more creative) or find what works best for you and make that time “sacred” with no interruptions; take small breaks to debrief after meetings and make notes of take-aways, next steps, and make sure you got something valuable from it, otherwise don’t schedule a similar meeting again.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means using your talent to build the future you would like to live in.