Africa’s beauty and personal care market is growing accelerated by its growing young and fashion conscious population, increasing purchasing power and urbanization. The market’s potential has attracted major brands in recent years, with Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and LVMH as the latest entrants.
Local niche brands are also emerging to offer customized beauty and skin care products. Kenya based Discover skincare is one of them and it seeks to revolutionize the industry through data-driven manufacturing tailored to the needs of the modern African woman.
Backed by seed funding of $1 million, Uncover is expanding its operations in Kenya and is expanding into Nigeria in January. This is after a new range of skin products was recently introduced to the market, with plans to launch more next year. Her products are sold through her online platformin marketplaces and partner brand stores.
“We will use the funding to launch more products, enter new markets and also double our technology and data to effectively produce, reach and market to our audience,” Uncover co-founder and CEO, Sneha Mehta told londonbusinessblog.com.
FirstCheck Africa, Samata Capital, Future Africa, IgniteXL participated in the round, alongside angel investors ex-SokoWatch COO, Kwenhui Tawah, and ex-L’Oreal executive and current WPP Scangroup CEO, Patricia Ithau. The new funding brings the total amount Uncover has raised since its launch in 2020 to $1.225 million.
Mehta co-founded Uncover with Jade Oyateru (COO) and Catherine Lee (Advisor) inspired to build a data-driven, digital-first, health and wellness brand for the African woman, leveraging their experience and expertise.
Mehta has over 10 years of experience helping businesses across Africa, while Oyateru is a nutritionist and consumer goods expert. Lee is an economist turned filmmaker.
Uncover was launched after incubation at Antler. It uses African plant products and outsources production to Korean original design manufacturers, who they say ensure their products are “healthy, safe, affordable and effective.”
“Our production takes place in Korea (one of the world’s largest beauty markets) where we use the best technology, laboratories and scientists in the world who understand stability testing, safe ingredients and formulations. We can deliver because women in our community have kindly provided information and tried our products, helping us formulate specifically for this market,” said Mehta.
The startup also offers virtual consultations by an in-house beautician, and produces skin entertainment content to reach more users, and recently introduced a skin quiz for personalized recommendations.
“I have personally experienced the lack of security in products, the lack of information and the feeling of being stuck. This is part of the reason why we are building these tools so that people can get personalized information and advice, including diet tips.”
Mehta says the startup’s revenue has grown 20-fold since launch, bolstered by growing demand for its products and the community it continues to build.
“Since then we have had incredible traction and our community has grown from zero to approximately 60,000 women in Kenya in two years…we have built brand awareness and loyalty and established our values of education and knowledge and empowerment in the marketplace,” she said.
Uncover hopes to continue building and strengthening this community, starting with Kenya and Nigeria, the next major markets for beauty and personal brands on the continent after South Africa.