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September 29, 2020 30 min

The Art of Serendipitous Innovation

On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles Podcast, Rose Fernandez, CEO of Algenist, and I explored how her company was accidentally discovered and born in a lab, and instead of being cast aside, it was repurposed, carved out and acquired.

Throughout Rose's career, she's helped build a handful of well-known beauty companies in executive roles,  including Murad, Kate  Somerville, and Jurlique.  She joined around the time it was being spun out its parent company and acquired by Tengram Capital Partners, and eventually she took on the (her first) CEO role. Her journey was not easy,  as she stepped up to the plate with much to learn about running a company, creating ingredients—and the legal, governance and growth issues that followed.

Algae Lab Experiment to Beauty Brand

Their core ingredient, alguronic acid, was accidentally discovered for another project and later turned into a patented skincare ingredient, expanded and imbedded into their broad productline. Unlike other health, wellness and beauty brands, Algenist was born from robust biotechnology, and turned into a culture that gets the science, and can actually make the ingredients, not just source it like most brands. They pride themselves on being a safe and clean brand with natural, quality ingredients suited for the emerging mass-market.

Health, Beauty & Food

Today consumers are more educated and informed about the foods they buy and the products they put on their bodies, a trend that is headed to the mass-market. Whole Foods paved the way, informing the average consumer on quality ingredients and what is going into their bodies. This is becoming the overarching theme in the health, wellness and beauty sectors, with many brands taking the initiative to provide consumers with quality ingredients while informing and providing clarity on the benefits. Larger CPG companies are also jumping on the bandwagon, building and acquiring brands in order to leverage these new ingredient claims—but they have a way to go.

Entrepreneurial Tips

Rose shared some tips she has learned about building a business.  First, know your customer. This is key to draw them in and create appealing products. Second, find the best distribution options for your customer—DTC is just one. Three, do not just do what's currently trending. This can be a distraction; one you may have to undo later. Lastly, do not try and do everything, I have made this mistake as a CEO. Do what is true to you; this will set you apart from the rest. I might add, having some unique and patented products in your portfolio doesn’t hurt either!


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