Damon Borich of Reveal Sciences Talks about His Startup
Where are you from originally?
I grew up right in the heart of Austin. Both of my parents were teachers and I was lucky to spend my summers riding the Hike and Bike Trail, going to Barton Springs, and enjoying the lakes and parks around Austin with my family. In fact, I live in the same neighborhood where I grew up, Travis Heights, and still remember the days when I mowed lawns around the area. It’s rare for a week to pass when I don’t bump into an old childhood buddy or someone who my parents taught in class.
What university did you go to?
Because my Dad was a professor at UT, I grew up with the notion that one could not attend any other University. I finished my studies at UT in 1995, followed byfour years in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine getting my Medical Doctorate. I finished my medical training with a residency at a trauma hospital in Georgia and came back to Austin during the tech-boom in 2000.
What brought you to Austin?
I came back to Austin originally to work with Labnetics, a start-up company that had just licensed technology from UT for medical diagnostics. I served as the Chief Medical Officer for two years and then ventured out to start my own company, Detekt Biomedical in 2003. Coming back to Austin was a simple decision for me- great town, lots of family, and a unique spirit that has always been a perfect fit for me.
What is the idea behind your startup?
Our company, Reveal Sciences, is really a perfect blend between medical diagnostics and the growing industry of Aesthetic medicine. In essence- we have created a product that allows skin-care professionals, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons to scientifically determine the unique skin-care needs of their clients and patients. Our system saves time and money for both parties, enhances their business, and provides their practice with a competitive edge via real science and medical-grade technology. Visit us at www.revealsciences.com
What need does it fulfill?
The cosmetics industry has made tremendous advances in the past decade particularly in terms of active ingredient development for the anti-ageing skincare market. The unaddressed issue is, however, that the consumer is inundated with unsubstantiated claims that force them to make uneducated guesses about which skincare and cosmeceutical products will work best for them. Our system scientifically analyzes consumers’ unique skin wellness attributes and matches them with the products and treatment regimens tailored to their needs.
What exactly does your product do?
Our product consists of a small, sleek, handheld optical imaging instrument that analyzes disposable skin sampling strips. The sampling strips are applied to various regions of a client’s facial skin and removed and placed in to the analyzer. In essence, we are able to non-invasively and painlessly remove the superficial surface layer of the skin and determine a variety of skin-wellness parameters such as hydration level, moisture retention ability, elasticity, consistency, sensitivity, wrinkles and fine lines, and pore size and oil production. Our first generation device is intended to be used by licensed skincare professionals, however, our next generation device runs on a mobile platform like the iPhone. A quick visit to www.mycaretype.com will allow you to see the product in action.
Who is it for?
Ultimately our product is intended for everyone interested in the health and wellness of their skin. The consumer is the initial driving force behind this growing market, however, the system will be implemented in high-end spas and salons with licensed estheticians on staff to provide skincare consultations.
What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?
Having been involved in a few start-ups, both successful and not, I have to say that this has been the smoothest. A lot of that is due to the intellectual and structural support initially provided by Emergent Technologies, a local VC firm here in Austin. All of the typical concerns and management issues associated with a start-up have really been alleviated by the management support from ETI- this allows me and my team to focus on product development, innovation, and sales.
What is the next step for you and your startup?
We are launching our CareType™ Analysis System this summer- primarily targeting Estheticians and MedSpas. We plan to bring the technology to the consumer later this year in the form of a mobile hardware and software application for platforms such as the iPhone and other consumer devices. The concept here is that consumers will be able to track and monitor their esthetic well-being at home and be able to independently optimize their skin-wellness regimen.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
There are many different ways to go about it, but what has worked for me is to take my idea as far as I can towards a sellable product or service. If you truly have a novel idea then there should be a partner out there who could be an early adopter and could fund the development and perhaps be the first customer. What worked back in 2000 won’t necessarily work today- hone your idea, make a prototype or product, and find your customers first.
What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?
The University of Texas is an incredible resource that we Austinites are tremendously fortunate to have at our fingertips. Starting with the library system and research facilities and complimented by the overwhelming number of young and highly talented students and graduates looking to get involved in something cutting-edge and fresh. Our company constantly taps this resource for hiring interns and recent graduates. Attend the free seminars, bounce your idea off of some of the leaders in the field who happen to be right in your backyard.