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"We Got Funded!" Sustainable Beauty Platform Secret Skin Raises US$765,000 In An Angel Investment Round The global beauty and personal market is expected to reach $729 billion by 2026, and while the Middle East and Africa region is worth $36 billion, it is expected to reach $61 billion by 2026.

By Tamara Pupic

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Secret Skin
Anisha Oberoi, co-founder, Secret Skin

"Ambition has no gender." That's the response Anisha Oberoi -co-founder of Secret Skin, a discovery platform that connects global conscious brands in the women's health and wellness sector to consumers in the Middle East- gives when asked if she had faced any gender bias when raising funds for her startup. Having recently raised US$765,000 in an angel investment round, Oberoi states that the success of a business depends on the founder's vision, and not their gender. "I truly believe that I have never had a yes or no from a potential investor only because I was a woman," she adds. "You must blind everyone with your light if you genuinely believe you are affecting change."

It is with this belief that Anisha Oberoi and Mayank Chauhan, both tenured Amazon executives, founded Secret Skin in 2020 with an aim to build a business on a framework committed to "people, planet, and purpose," and empower customers to buy safe and affordable toxin-free beauty and personal care products. Over the last two years, the entrepreneurial duo has launched a number of international and local clean beauty brands, implemented a subscription service, and established strategic partnerships in the region, while 2023 will see them launch female intimate health and wellness categories through alliances with local pharmacies.

"The global beauty and personal market is expected to reach $729 billion by 2026, while the Middle East and Africa region is worth $36 billion, and it is expected to reach $61 billion by 2026, and GCC countries continue to have one of the highest per capita spend globally of $250 within the category," Oberoi explains. "I believe that Secret Skin is uniquely positioned to be the leader in the sustainable beauty sector within this space."

Image courtesy Secret Skin.

Oberoi reveals here that 65% of Secret Skin investors are women, and that its latest angel funding round included senior executives from a number of the region's corporate giants like Amazon, Walt Disney, NMC, Aster, Baccarose, Al Hokair, and Sunset Hospitality, as well as global INSEAD and Wharton alumni groups. "The advantage with angel investors is multiple-fold: angels invest in founders with vision, a roadmap of success, and the burn-the-bridges determination to fail fast and scale fast," Oberoi explains. "Angel investments happen based on a personal connection, 'the vibe check', the belief in the mission, and the capabilities and background of the team. These are typically smaller checks, which may not move the runway needle as much as VC investments later, but are still critical to the lifecycle of the business."

When asked about the biggest challenges she faced as an entrepreneur in the women's health sector in the UAE, Oberoi points towards two factors inherent in the ecosystem. "The lack of awareness around women's health and wellness in the region as a concept is one, and the lack of investor confidence in women founders, in general, is another," Oberoi says. "But, in all honesty, the latter is also influenced by thin deal flow from women-founded startups; hence, the issue is cyclical. It's also true that, as women, we have self-limiting beliefs due to this bias, and don't strive to overcome it. If we believe that we have the potential and an incredible idea, nothing stops us from taking it to the brilliance it deserves."

Looking forward to 2023, Oberoi believes that markets will remain challenging, and fundraising will get tougher. "Double down on what's working, and constantly audit spend," Oberoi advises entrepreneurs. "You never stop raising, so every meeting is a potential opportunity for the future. Be brave to pivot if all signs point to change."

Related: Here's How You Can Make Your UAE-Based Salon Business Break Even In 16 Weeks

'TREP TALK: Fundraising tips from Secret Skin co-founder Anisha Oberoi

1. Seek smart money "Find the investors that can provide strategic inputs, and not just the check. Look for experts in your industry who can add value with advice or connections to optimize your operations or marketing proposition."

2. Set targets (and stick to them) "Have a minimum check size for your round, as this ensures you use your energy effectively across multiple conversations. Every minute spent on fundraising is time away from building your product. Time is money. "

3. Network, network, network "LinkedIn is your only address, so network like an investigative journalist to build connections, and strategically navigate the fundraise. Make your dashboards."

Related: How Huda, Mona, And Alya Kattan Built The Billion-Dollar Huda Beauty Brand Out Of Dubai

Tamara Pupic

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.

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