For those troubled by skin issues, especially serious damage to the skin after surgery or trauma, Korean biotech startup Plcoskin is promising to bring the smile back. The company is launching next-generation skin regenerative products that can restore and regenerate soft tissue in the affected area.
Founded by Ethan Baek and Chris Jung in 2017, the startup also launched cosmetics brand Youlief, aimed to make a positive difference in people’s lives. In an interview, CEO Ethan Baek shares the company’s unique strengths and their plans to use research and development for creating products on regenerative skin, fillers, breast prostheses, etc., with koreatechdesk.com.
1. Can you please explain what your company does and its vision?
We make cosmetic products for the restoration and regeneration of the skin. We want to make products to improve people’s lives, people who have had cancer or surgery, procedures that have left an impact on their skin. There are limited solutions for these problems, but we are going to make artificial products for the restoration and regeneration of skin and soft tissue which will affect people’s lives for the better.
2. Please tell us about the problem your startup is trying to resolve.
I am a plastic surgeon and in our institution, I do plastic surgery in cases such as cancer reconstruction or work with burn patients where there is soft tissue loss. Currently, there are limited solutions and usually, the skin is taken from another body part but that too has its limitations. I want to solve the limitation of soft tissue problems and am focusing on bio-degradable polymer. Usually, we use PCL, but we can use other polymers too. Our products support the human body’s regeneration power.
3. Can you please share the market opportunity for such a product?
The market is very big but right now our product is focusing on only one point. We plan to expand our projects. The regeneration market is almost $30 billion, and the polymer market is about $3 billion in the world.
4. How much are people willing to pay for your product?
If our product is very effective and safe, all patients suffering from skin or soft tissue loss will want to use our product.
5. So is your client the patient or the hospital?
The client is the hospital doctor, but it means that the patient wants to use the product.
6. Can you tell us about the pricing of your products?
Usually, for one patient, the cost of breast reconstruction using the cells from a human cadaver takes about $10,000 but we can do that same thing for our product half the price.
7. Can you tell us about Youlief?
We have two parts in our company, one is research and the second is cosmetic and anti-aging products. Youlief is just a brand for the cosmetic. We researched on cell cycle and cell aging technology and then made the cosmetic brand Youlief. You can buy it online and also from the market, as well as from the duty-free market and the price is around $20-30. We have made a revenue of about $100,000 this year but we are hoping to make 10 times more next year.
8. What the aim behind launching Youlief?
We wanted to use our expertise and technology to create a cosmetic brand because research is only small but if we invent something to stop aging problems or regeneration, it will help many people.
9. Can you talk about the founding members?
We have 2 founders, I and the other founder is working in the cosmetic section. He is a beauty expert. We have known each other for 15 years. He was working with the customers in the cosmetic department while I was working in health and research. We came together to make new brands.
10. Please tell us about your background?
I graduated from Yonsei University of Medicine in Korea which is the oldest university in Korea. I finished my specialization in Plastic Surgery, I usually do cosmetic surgery and reconstruction surgery and handle trauma cases too. I worked at the John Hopkins Hospital in the US for a year in the plastic surgery and tissue engineering lab and carried out research in bone regeneration and soft tissue regeneration. The experience was very impressive and one reason I wanted to start a company for skin regeneration.
11. What year was the company founded?
In 2017, before I went to John Hopkins. First, I started a company just for skincare technology but after I returned, I changed the aim of our company. Now we deal with skincare and tissue injury both.
12. There are other competitors in the market. So, what makes your company unique?
In Korea, there is no company that makes soft tissue. A few companies work on bone regeneration or other organs but maybe we are the only research institution company in Korea. This makes us unique. Also, a lot of companies want to improve their technologies, but as of now, there aren’t any.
13. What have you learned so far in terms of your insight, business perspective, etc.?
For cosmetic branding, we want to make our brand stronger and very basic. In the Korean market, our brand is very honest. Our technology vision is that we want to improve it. We want to make an artificial vein, artery, vessel. Eventually, we plan to combine the artificial vein and artificial tissue and make it a part of an organ. We can connect it to your body and our soft tissue is more viable and we can make some kind of organ.
14. What is your funding history?
Initially, we took a loan from the government and after that, we have been funded by angel investments. Now we have a Venture Capitalist (VC), which is HGI.
15. How much money have you raised?
Around $ 650,000. We have plans for getting more funding next year.
16. As you raise money, how are you going to do things differently?
We shall scale up by hiring more researchers and will make some machines for the product (skin regeneration). We will also need to hire researchers who can handle the machine. In our institution, we have a program where doctors are trained to become researchers. The government also offers plus points for researchers so our company hires young doctors who can also research.
17. Would you like to share your passion with your potential buyers or partners?
I am a plastic surgeon and I focus on anti-aging and skin regeneration. Our final goal is to make people’s health and skin healthier and slow down aging, that is our aim.