Sneha Mehta, Jade Oyateru, and Catherine Lee founded Uncover, a skincare company. Lee, a Korean economist and filmmaker living in Kenya, came up with the idea for the company. She noticed a gap in the skincare industry for African women and considered creating a brand to meet their needs.
Mehta was inspired by her own traumatic skincare experience years ago. She grew up with acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation, she claims, and despite seeking treatment and medication from one of Kenya’s top dermatologists, the process left her with a burned face.
She was inspired to create a skincare product after meeting Lee at the Antler business accelerator program in Nairobi, Kenya. According to How We Made It in Africa, they presented proposals to an investment committee at Antler and received $100,000 in funding to get the company up and running.
Later, Oyateru, a Nigerian who had previously worked for Unilever, Nestle, and e-commerce platforms such as Kasha and Jumia, joined the team. They spent time as a team of three developing “supplier relationships in South Korea, reaching out to retailers, working on packaging, developing marketing content, and making their first hires,” according to How We Made It In Africa. The team chose South Korea because it is regarded as a global skincare industry leader.
Uncover essentially outsources its manufacturing to a South Korean company, though it is actively involved in product development. In addition, the company collaborates closely with formula scientists from leading brands such as L’Oreal.
Mehta previously worked in the private equity industry before founding Uncover. She decided to start her own business after growing tired of supporting the growth of others. Despite having sufficient experience as a player in the private equity industry in establishing and running a business, she sought retraining. In Nairobi, she enrolled in the Antler business accelerator program, where she met her co-founder, Lee.
The entrepreneurs have enjoyed the growth of their business, but they acknowledge that the journey has not been easy. They encountered difficulties in determining the best packaging and branding strategy. They had to cancel a two-week contract with a Kenyan marketing agency because they didn’t understand Uncover’s vision.
Similarly, they terminated a contract with another UK agency for misrepresenting Africa. They eventually hired an intern graphic designer to work on the packaging.
Uncover sold its products through a select group of online and offline retailers, including Jumia and Mydawa. It launched its own e-commerce platform in 2021, with the goal of having direct interactions with customers. It then established its own warehouse and formed a partnership with Sendy, a third-party delivery service that functions similarly to “Uber for deliveries.”
Furthermore, Uncover recently raised $1 million in its latest round of funding from FirstCheck Africa, Samata Capital, Future Africa, and IgniteXL, among others.
Since its inception in December 2020, the company has experienced a 20x increase in monthly revenue and has amassed a loyal following of 60,000 women. Sheet masks, pimple patches, Green Tea Revitalising Cleanser, Aloe Invisible Sunscreen, and the Baobab Glow-C Serum are among its products.
“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.