One of the biggest success stories of 2011 was the sale of David Giuliani’s Pacific Bioscience Laboratories — the maker of the Clarisonic skin cleansing device — to L’Oréal USA.
Now, another Seattle upstart is hoping that it can follow in the footsteps of Clarisonic. It’s called JeNu Biosciences, and it just scored $1.5 million in financing from Second Avenue Partners and other angel investors. The goal is to close out the round at $3 million, with CEO Wayne Wager telling GeekWire that the company’s skin creams and device will be on the market some time later this year.
The comparisons to Clarisonic are hard to miss. Both companies are going after the ever-expanding home beauty market.
Wager — a former venture capitalist who has known Giuliani for years and respects his entrepreneurial talents — said there are some key differences between JeNu and Clarisonic. And, at the end of the day, he noted that the two devices actually are quite complementary.
Whereas the Clarisonic removes dirt and cosmetics on the skin, the JeNu Home System is designed to apply specially formulated skin creams through an ultrasound brush.
“Their device is excellent at cleaning your skin, and then after you’ve cleaned your skin, you’d use our device to put good things back in,” said Wager.
With the specially formulated skin creams working in conjunction with the ultrasound technology, Wager said that wrinkles are reduced significantly.
Of course, watchers of late night TV know that there’s no shortage of companies touting anti-aging technologies. Wager, for one, admits that the “signal-to-noise ratio” is quite high in the category. He adds that women are being “barraged” with all sorts of wild propositions.
“It is a crazy market, and there are some really wild claims that are made. The key thing is that our device has both objective lab and human data to back it up,” Wager tells GeekWire. “There is a lot of noise. And the challenge for us will be able to get our signal, to get our message, heard.”
The company has been testing the device and creams at skin care clinics in Seattle and New York, with Wager saying the results were “very, very positive.” To help grow the business, the company recently tapped Colette Courtion, founder and CEO of Calidora Skin Clinics, as president. She will be in charge of sales, marketing and overseeing the formulation of the creams.
For the most part, Wager said that ultrasound technology — used for a number of medical procedures — is not being used in skin care. JeNu has one patent pending on its technology, and plans to file another one this winter.
JeNu plans to sell its device and starter kit — which will include the special creams — for about $200. It plans to make money by selling additional creams to customers.
Wager has worked with the company for about 18 months. It was founded by several of the creators of Ultreo, a Redmond maker of ultrasound-based toothbrushes.