Ming Zhao is the co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare, a technology-powered personalized skincare company. She is an immigrant, a third-generation entrepreneur, and a mother whose daughter is the same age as her startup. Prior to founding PROVEN, Ming was a private equity investor where she frequently worked 80-hour weeks, wreaking havoc on her skin and soul, leading her to pursue personalized skincare. She resides in San Francisco and has a MBA from Harvard.
Dr. Yuan has a master’s degree in Computer Science, a post-doctorate degree in Computational Physics from USC and a Ph.D in Material Science from Stanford. She is also a world record holder for the largest computational simulation in science using a supercomputer. Before founding PROVEN, Dr. Yuan lead data and computational science teams at F100 companies and another leading data startup. In her spare time, she likes to grow vegetables.
What inspired you all to create this company?
Proven evolved from a personal mission to solve my own skin frustrations to the world’s most personalized skincare.
Years ago, I had a soul-sucking, 14-hour-a-day, private equity job. My skin became dull, sallow and made me look much older than my age. Panicked, I spent time and money on skincare products, but nothing worked.It wasn’t until I had personalized skincare products made for me that I saw real results.
Similarly, my co-founder, Amy Yuan, had a skin condition that wouldn’t go away. Being a Computational Physicist, she built for herself an AI-powered database that found all the scientific literature regarding the condition and solved the issue on her own.
PROVEN is the amalgamation of these two epiphanies – personalization and data. Amy’s initial database, augmented with dermatology experts from Stanford, turned into the world’s largest skin database: The Skin Genome Project™, which won MIT’s AI Technology of the Year award in 2018. It simplifies and optimizes people’s lives by creating formulations that fit them.
The beauty industry is not only decades behind technologically, but also only creates products for middle-aged Caucasian females living in Los Angeles or New York, leaving the rest of us woefully underserved. PROVEN is bringing cutting-edge technology and inclusive products to help everyone have good skin for life.
What distinguishes your company and product in the market?
PROVEN is a completely new approach to skincare and consumer products. We analyze more than 47 factors about a person – not just their skin type, but also their heritage, style of life, stage of life, and locality, down to the hardness of the water in their municipality, and the amount they fly. With this richness of data, we then use data to create highly personalized and effective skincare formulas that address customers’ specific needs.
Our database, the Skin Genome ProjectTM, is the largest database of its kind, and has won numerous AI award including from MIT, Nvidia and Stanford for the sophisticated algorithms that power it. The database analyzed more than 20 million consumer testimonials, 4000 scientific journal articles, on over 20,000 ingredients and 100,000 products. It is the first time that evidence-based science is being applied into the skincare and beauty industry.
PROVEN’s proprietary personalized skincare products are formulated in collaboration with the Stanford Center for Aesthetic Dermatology under the guidance of an award-winning Stanford cosmetic formulator, and are clean, non-toxic and made in the USA.
Not only that, PROVEN’s products evolve with people as the seasons change, as the seasons in their lives change. When women get pregnant, when men change the way they shave their faces or when someone moves from San Francisco to Paris, PROVEN’s products self-update to account for your changing needs – something that no other skincare line is able to do. And we’re just getting started. We’ve already created the AI databases to create personalized products in other consumer categories to create an empire of personalized consumer brands.