Biotech startup Sequential Skin raises €1.4m – ‘We want to accelerate the future of skin health,’ says CEO
The latest seed round raised €1.42m ($1.65m) and was led by Estonian early-stage investment firm Metaplanet, supported by Scrum Ventures, SOSV, Genedant and angel investor Ben Holmes. The investment brought total venture funding for Sequential Skin to €1.85m ($2.15m) in 2021, all of which would be pumped into globally expanding reach with its at-home skin patch testing kits that used gene sequencing technology to assess overall skin health, considering genetic predisposition and a person’s current skin microbiome.
Dr Oliver Worsley, CEO and co-founder of Sequential Skin, said global expansion was an important part of the company’s wider goals.
“We want to accelerate the future of skin health, and for that reason having a global presence is going to be key to making our technology accessible to all. Our investors are all international VCs and have strong links around the world to markets,” Worsley told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
B2B diagnostics versus D2C business growth
Sequential Skin’s at-home patch test was already widely used under its B2B business, where skin care companies sent the kits out to volunteers alongside products to test efficacy and validate claims.
“We’ve been lucky to work with the most well-known skin care companies to help them validate claims around the skin microbiome,” Worsley said.
“…There are other companies that do in vitro testing but this misses the real-world impact on the skin, that’s why companies are excited to work with us. Our kit includes an adhesive skin patch that has been validated over the course of two years of R&D, and we don’t see a ‘batch effect’ after our bioinformatic analysis at different time points, an important criteria to have when testing the microbiome.”
But whilst Worsley said the B2B side of Sequential Skin would remain important moving forward, the longer-term goal was to evolve its direct-to-consumer (D2C) offer that provided personalised skin treatments to end consumers according to diagnostic results from the patch tests.
“We want to provide the most exact products based on high-quality science,” he said.
“…This will really help us to catapult forward our collection of skin microbiome samples on a global stage. We already have thousands of samples from Singapore, Europe and now the US, and this investment will boost further our marketing abilities,” he said.
Dr Albert Dashi, CSO and co-founder of Sequential Skin, added: “Our scope is to provide science to people and empower them with the right tools and knowledge so they make the right decision for the future of their skin health and wellbeing.”
Rauno Miljand, managing partner of lead investor Metaplanet, said the kits certainly offered users an “insightful and deep understanding of their skin state”, along with what was needed according to their surrounding environment and lifestyle.
“We were impressed by the Sequential Skin team and it seems one of the most promising personalised skin care companies currently on the market,” Miljand said.
Stronger skin science and microbiome ‘signatures’
Asked where the company wanted to be in 3-5 years, Worsley said: “Sequential Skin will be continuing in our mission to provide real insights into the skin with our Sequential Skin test. From this, we hope to empower consumers to make choices that are suited to them and improve skin health globally.”
Sequential Skin was already engaged in three ongoing clinical trials using its kits, he said, and wanted to deepen scientific understanding further on how genetics, epigenetics and skin microbiome affected health and disease, looking more closely at specific conditions like atopic dermatitis, for example. The company, he said, would build upon “several years of our key scientific advisors’ work on identifying ‘dermotypes’” and move forward to predict the severity of disease flare-ups based on the “microbiome signatures in these patients”.
“We now have significant traction in assembling an extensive dataset on skin types from Asia, Europe and the US – a great chance for us to discover novel biomarkers for skin conditions in different populations,” he said.
“…I strongly feel there are underserved communities that can benefit from a personalised and scientific approach, where the generic products are failing them. This global skin microbiome dataset is going to be hugely valuable in understanding skin health around the world,” Worsley said.
Considering the future of personalised skin care, he said the biggest challenge would be ensuring consumers kept up with rapidly evolving technology in skin diagnostics. “A large part of what we want to do is share our findings at conferences, and in scientific publications. This will allow us to share the technology and, in time, the consumer will understand it’s a crucial part of their health,” he said.
Dr Oliver Worsley recently featured as one of our expert panellist on the CosmeticsDesign Skin Microbiome: Next-Gen Innovation and Science webinar discussing the future of skin diagnostics and personalised skin care. The free online webinar is still available to watch on-demand here.