As part of the startup Interview series, we are going to interview Dr. Akvile Ignotaite from System Akvile, a Hamburg-based innovative HealthTech company that brings out a holistic skin health app and skincare products.
Akvile, thanks for taking the time to catch up with us. Can you briefly outline the company’s story? What is System Akvile`s key goal? Who are the founders, and how did it all become what it is today?
The struggle of acne is usually associated with adolescents and seen as a phase you’ll grow out of. I am one of the many people over 25 that have struggled with adult acne. Acne can come in different types, severity, and at any time. I personally have tried countless skincare products and have talked to multiple dermatologists with no successful solution. The skin journey has been exhausting, to say the least. I took matters into my own hands in 2019 and created System Akvile. Equivalent to my skincare journey, the business journey was also very tough. Finding the right team that believed in the company as much as I do and moving forward was a struggle. Long story short, trial and error was looping in the background for a few months. What started as a simple 4 step skincare line grew into what we are known for today, a skincare app.
From the beginning, I found it important to be transparent and clear that all the products and now the app are fully supported by science and research. The co-founder Dr. Greg, our skin expert dermatologist, provides vital medical insight on how to take care of acne-prone skin. Our app provides different layers for everyone struggling with acne-prone skin including a 6-week skin health journey, healthy recipes, a face scan, personalized skin tracking to find personal triggers and to fully understand your skin. Our goal is to help as many people as possible to achieve healthy skin with an all-in-one app without the stress of information overload.
What kind of products and services does your company offer?
A holistic skin health app and skincare products. The app includes a 6-week skin health journey, a face scan, recipes, and personalized skin predictions. In the future, we are planning to launch deep dive programs (ex. 6-week stress management, 6-week healthy skin diet, etc.). We are also looking to further personalize the app, by identifying specific skin conditions (ex. stress acne, post-pill acne, etc.), and depending on these skin conditions we will create a personalized skin journey for you.
What’s the latest progress in the project, and what are you focusing on right now?
We have recently launched our 2.0 app version. Moreover, System Akvile is growing as a team and has allocated energy on go-to-market. It’s an exciting time for us!
What pain of your customers are you helping solve? What is your company offering, and what kind of customers and partners are you looking for?
The pain of our customers is not a beauty issue but rather a skin condition. We are here to help and support cusThe pain of our customers is not a beauty issue but rather a skin condition. We are here to help and support customers who are struggling with different severity of acne-prone skin in an all-in-one app. We are looking for customers who are ready to start their skin journey to healthier skin or have already started and need support to continue their journey. In terms of partners, we are looking for people who see the company’s vision and are aligned with our goals. A partner that goes all the way and not just tipping their toes in the water.
What differentiates System Akvile from its competitors?
Our competitors focus on one aspect of the healthy skin journey or is usually specified to a specific gender or age. We saw the importance of viewing skin problems as multi-factorial.
From a dermatologist’s point of view, most of skin problems develops in the same way, but internal and/or environmental triggers may differ for each individual. With our all-in-one solution we emphasize the holistic approach which helps our users to identify different root causes of their skin condition (e.g. stress, nutrition, habitual behavior etc.).
We view our customer’s skin journey as a long-term process and not an overnight miracle.
Do you use AI technology in your product? How does it work for you?
We are planning to use AI technology in the future. We are joining forces with another amazing startup to improve our face scan.
Another AI technology future implementation on our road map is Machine Learning. We aim to provide users with accurate predictions on their skin condition and their progress.
Do you have any projects related to COVID-19 research? If so, can you explain how your product is contributing to a global fight against coronavirus?
We do not directly contribute to fighting coronavirus but we do contribute to the well-being of our users. We have seen a rise in people who need emotional and mental guidance.
What is your business model, and how are you planning to get early customers onboard? Have you already raised money for your operations and building the platform?
Our business model is direct to the consumer (D2C). We have a loyal customer base from our 1.0 app version who have been included in our onboarding process. Additionally, we are testing different growth hacking strategies. We have already raised money from valued investors.
What milestones have you had in fundraising, and where are you now?
We attracted diverse investors with different backgrounds. It is amazing to work with motivated and strong business leaders. We are currently planning to raise our Series A in 2022.
What was it like growing your team? What were the challenges and surprises you encountered? What tips do you have for building a solid team?
Like every startup, it is hard to find the right people to align with the early company’s culture, value, commitment, and startup pressure. We are grateful to have finally set a strong foundation of different expertise. Our team members come from different backgrounds and have different specialties to contribute to the underlying goal: to keep System Akvile moving forward. As a team, we listen and grow together.
One tip I have for any startup would be to understand that you can teach experience to people but you can teach the same values to people. Therefore, no matter how experienced someone is without the commitment and aligned values it will never work.
What are your company’s plans for the future, your major dream in 2022?
To raise a Series A!
To summarize our interview, I would like to ask your opinion about the future of the HealthTech industry, especially considering the impact of the pandemic and all this economic turbulence.
Important topics have risen during the pandemic. The holistic approach towards healthcare is more visible, especially in HealthTech. In addition, the surge of FemTech, inclusivity in healthcare, and the space to break taboos are coming to light. Despite the pandemic having horrific consequences, the surfacing of these topics is critical and positive for society to move to a healthier view on health and prevention.