Her husband, Shivam Sharma, was experiencing acne flare ups due to the stresses of frequent work travel.
Wife Navneet Kaur then tried to find the ‘right’ skincare products for him.
While she was at it, she realised that the process was overwhelming, time-consuming, expensive and “requires a lot of trial-and-error”.
“Moreover, despite my extensive and expensive research, I struggled to find effective products that were suitable for his skin needs and lifestyle,” said the 31-year-old.
The Indian couple then teamed up to start up Swiss-made clean beauty brand Yours in Singapore in 2018, which specialises in personalised skincare products.
Navneet’s search for her husband’s skincare products led her to think: ‘Why not let the company do all the hard work instead of the user?’
What if the users could just tell the company about themselves and the company would deliver what’s right for them?
With that vague idea, I set out to build a customer-first, clean skincare brand that personalises skincare for users based on their skin, lifestyle, and environment.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
At that time, the Commerce graduate was heading the APAC strategy and operations for bike-sharing platform Ofo.
Besides helming Ofo’s APAC operations, she also has experience developing skincare products and launching brands at one of India’s largest conglomerates.
She also served as part of Uber APAC’s core team in 2014, launching and scaling it up in a time when ride-sharing and the gig economy were fairly new concepts.
To set up Yours, she left her role at Ofo and spent close to three months travelling across Europe to find the right laboratory to work with, before finalising one in Switzerland that was a perfect fit with the brand values of the business.
She spent an additional few months working closely with the Swiss lab, ensuring that product quality is never compromised, while developing and innovating products based on well-researched, active ingredients found only in the Swiss Alps.
Skincare That Taps On Tech
The personalisation process kickstarts with a pretty straightforward skin assessment.
Through a questionnaire, users share their skin concerns, skin types, water intake, habits, sleeping schedule, stress level and skin allergens, among other information.
The algorithm will then analyse your skin needs, and users are then required to upload an optional bare selfie of themselves.
Our computer vision algorithms extract data from the selfie and combine this data with inputs from the questionnaire. The complete data set is then fed into a proprietary personalisation model that decodes skin needs.
Finally, active ingredients from its ever-evolving ingredient dataset are mapped to create a personalised Day and Night skincare regimen for each user.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
A Day & Night Skincare Set, consisting of creams and serums to take you through day and night, retails at US$79. Individual products are also available on the website.
She stressed that by removing trial-and-error from everyday skincare routines and ensuring that skincare isn’t a one-size-fits-all, they help to “reduce opportunity costs associated with time and money spent on ineffective products.”
Navneet shared that the years of experience she garnered from the tech industry has helped set the foundation when she took the leap to start Yours.
Yours reimagines the decades-old skincare industry by putting the user at the front and centre of product creation, and leveraging technology to personalise skincare at scale.
In my years (of) scaling operations at tech giants, I saw the value of customer-first technology and its potential to transform the world – impacting lives at scale, for good.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
By leveraging technology to enable a product-customer fit, they are able to personalise at scale, making skincare simple and sustainable for the user, while reducing product waste.
In comparison to an industry average that hovers in high double digits, Navneet shares that their products have a defect rate of less than 0.5 per cent.
With our proprietary personalisation algorithm, we remove guesswork, trial-and-error, and decision-fatigue from a complicated skincare discovery and shopping process.
We (also) invest in delivering an end-to-end personalised user experience – from landing on the website to receiving their first personalised skincare set (includes a handwritten note addressed to them), to finally having their skincare regimen automatically update with their evolving skin needs.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
If a user’s skin concerns change or they experience a lifestyle/environment change after the skin assessment, they can simply retake the test on the website to get new formulations made.
Beauty With A Conscience
Yours’ skincare products are clean, cruelty-free, and environmentally-friendly.
All of their product formulations are compliant with the European Union’s (EU) cosmetics regulation standards, which are the most stringent in the world.
For example, the EU bans and restricts usage of more than 1,328 toxic ingredients, while the US outlaws around 30.
“Taking it a step further, we blacklist additional 128 harmful ingredients that don’t meet our internal standards,” said Navneet.
“Our brand promise is to deliver ‘Clean Beauty++’, a standard we’ve coined that goes above and beyond the market norms of just ‘non-toxic’ ingredients.”
They also ensure that each ingredient has a transparent supply chain, and there’s testing at both ingredient and product level.
In addition, all of their packaging is 100 per cent recyclable, and products in the personalised skincare range are stored in an airless pump bottle format, designed to allow users to pump out every last drop of product.
Being a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brand, we are able avoid high overhead and rental costs, and are able to pass cost savings directly to users – delivering premium quality products to users at affordable prices.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
Transforming Skin Across Countries
Navneet currently serves as the CEO, while Shivam serves as the CMO and leads marketing.
The Singapore-based startup has seen their user base grow eight-fold across three countries in the last seven months.
In August 2019, they raised US$3.5 milion (S$4.8 million) seed funding from Sequoia Capital and other globally reputed venture capitalists – Global Founders Capital, Kindred Ventures (Uber’s early investor), and Jay-Z’s venture arm Arrive.
Their products have raked in a 4.5 star rating on their website, with customers raving about their efficacy in relieving problematic skin conditions such as acne and dermatomyositis.
Despite their successes, Navneet shared that their entrepreneurial journey is still fraught with challenges.
For one, maintaining a sustainable beauty brand is simply not easy.
Being a young startup, I have come to realise how inaccessible sustainable products and materials are.
While we are making every effort to be as eco-friendly as possible and always exploring more sustainable options, biodegradable packaging and sugar cane tubes come with limited options. (They) are incredibly expensive and have very high minimum order quantities — practically impossible for any young startup.– Navneet Kaur, CEO and co-founder of Yours
However, Yours is determined to reduce waste every step of the way.
They are also currently developing the tech side of things such as incorporating new features in their new skin assessment that would substantially enhance user experience.
On the skincare product aspect, they are expanding their range to include cleansers and toners.
It seems that it is only a matter of time before they start stocking their products at major beauty retailers such as Sephora.
Featured Image Credit: Yours