Uncover is a skincare company founded by entrepreneurs Sneha Mehta, Jade Oyateru, and Catherine Lee. The idea for the company came from Lee, a Korean economist and filmmaker living in Kenya. She noticed a gap in the skincare industry for African women and thought about a brand that will cater to their needs.
Mehta was drawn to the idea due to her own traumatic skincare experience years ago. According to her, she grew up with acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation, and despite seeking treatment and medication from one of Kenya’s top dermatologists, the process left her with a burned face.
She was moved to build a skincare product when Lee came up with the idea after the two met at the Antler business accelerator program in Kenya’s Nairobi. To get the company up and running, they presented proposals to an investment committee at Antler and got $100,000 in funding, according to How We Made It in Africa.
Oyateru, a Nigerian who had worked for Unilever, Nestle, and e-commerce platforms like Kasha and Jumia, later joined the team. As a team of three, they spent time building “supplier relationships in South Korea, reaching out to retailers, working on packaging, developing marketing content, and making their first hires,” How We Made It In Africa reported. The team chose South Korea because the country is seen as a leader in the global skincare industry.
Essentially, Uncover outsources its manufacturing to a South Korean company, although it plays an active role in product development. Also, the company works closely with formula scientists from top brands like L’Oreal.
Prior to starting Uncover, Mehta worked in the private equity industry. She decided to become an entrepreneur after growing tired of just supporting the growth of other businesses. Although she had accumulated enough experience on how to establish and run a business as a player in the private equity industry, she went for retraining. She enrolled in the Antler business accelerator program in Nairobi, where she met her co-founder, Lee.
According to the entrepreneurs, they have enjoyed the growth of their business but note that the journey has not been easy. They faced challenges in finding the right packaging and branding approach. They had to terminate a contract with a Kenyan marketing agency after two weeks because they didn’t understand the vision of Uncover.
Similarly, they ended a contract with another agency in the UK for its misrepresentation of what Africa is. They eventually got a graphic designer intern to work on the packaging.
Uncover sold its product through a select group of stores, both online and offline, including Jumia and Mydawa. In 2021, it launched its own e-commerce platform with the aim of having direct interactions with customers. It then opened its own warehouse and partnered with Sendy, a third-party delivery service that functions like the “Uber for deliveries.”
What is more, Uncover recently raised $1 million in its latest round of funding from investors including FirstCheck Africa, Samata Capital, Future Africa and IgniteXL.
The company has since its launch in December 2020 recorded 20x growth in monthly revenue and gained a loyal following of 60,000 women. Its products include sheet masks, pimple patches, Green Tea Revitalising Cleanser, Aloe Invisible Sunscreen, and the Baobab Glow-C Serum.
“The rapid traction we’ve seen in 24 months since launch is testament to the need for healthy, safe and affordable women’s health products specifically made for women of color combined with digitally enabled customer education and product discovery tools,” according to Mehta.
Uncover plans to expand into the Nigerian market in January 2023.