On May 6, Ming S. Zhao, CEO of Proven, a skincare brand that creates customized skincare for customers using an AI-based tool called the Skin Genome Project, was the first cosmetic brand founder to appear on Shark Tank in 5 years.
Zhao actually launched the company in 2018, but felt the time was right to appear on Shark Tank after having secured customer feedback and initial investments from Y-Combinator and Stanford.
The idea of a female founder of a company from an underrepresented market segment on Shark Tank is newsworthy enough. Yet, there is a deeper story that her company represents: ensuring the definition of “Clean” also means “Sustainable.”
The Proven online quiz, which generates a customized formulation set based on inputs like skin concern, sleep deprivation, or travel, is sleek and easy. You glide through a brief survey and on the other side receive targeted answers for top concerns like ‘what ingredients help with anti-aging?’ and ‘what’s good for moderate pollution and hard water buildup?’
The ingredient results, which typically feature Squalane as a top ingredient supporting moisturization and barrier repair, include a short profile description of top ingredients – from Vitamin C to Calendula to Acetyl Glucosamine.
This alone is exciting to many consumers looking for science-backed, fully digital, and customized skin care. Yet, although the Sharks may not have seen it, Proven’s innovation could be the tip of the (fast-melting) iceberg.