- Olamide Olowe is the founder and CEO of Topicals, which develops products for chronic skin conditions.
- On Thursday, Topicals announced a $10 million Series A round led by venture capital firm CAVU.
- Olowe gave her advice on supporting investors with confidence as a black female producer.
Olamide Olowe started the skin care brand after growing up with chronic skin conditions like acne and hair loss. These issues are not often discussed by his peers or medical professionals, he said.
“I grew up feeling isolated and spending a lot of time going to dermatologists and primary care doctors trying to find a cure,” Olowe told Insider. “I have no results and I don’t understand why.”
In college, Olowe learned that people of color are not only underrepresented in the health care industry but are also missing out on tests and clinical trials.
“Darker people aren’t born as well understood when it comes to prescription or over-the-counter products,” he said.
Driven to change both the industry and beauty standards, he founded Topicals in 2020, at the age of 23, after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. His company develops skin care products for chronic conditions that can be difficult to treat and helps to reduce stress.
Topicals announced Thursday a $10 million Series A round led by venture-capital firm CAVU, which invests in consumer product brands such as Beyond Meat and Oatly. This brings Topicals’ total revenue to $14.8 million.
This is how Olowe reassures investors.
Articles were raised from $2.6 million in seed money, which doesn’t come easily for Olowe. Before last year, only 93 black women had raised $1 million or more in venture capital, according to ProjectDiane, a biennial report on the state’s Black and Latina founders at Digitalundivided.
“It took me about two years and probably close to a hundred holes to get the money,” he said.
Maybe it would have been a faster process if she wasn’t young, Black, and female, but it taught her how to build confidence, she added.
“I thought very quickly, when I was 23 years old, when I first raised capital, how can I hold my own and talk about my business in a way that no one can turn a blind eye to,” he said. “I walk into every room and I know what I’m talking about.”
In particular, she doesn’t let the numbers that provide money for black female producers get her down.
He said: “There are many reasons why I won’t get the money. “But I don’t think why this won’t happen.”
Color the data with custom
Olowe supports his position with his knowledge and willingness, which builds respect among investors, he said. It uses data to explain why its products are relevant, profitable and impactful.
“It’s always been data-driven, and then we use custom to color that data,” he said.
That means it provides more opportunities to provide investors with a deeper understanding of the market for skin care products, especially in communities of color. For example, when investors asked why he didn’t have an acne treatment in his product line, he said he wanted to develop a treatment for hyperpigmentation, which is a skin condition for people who color.
“Before we jumped into the market, a lot of redheads didn’t have a single product they could use,” he said. “But their spending is seven to eight times more than other countries.”
The roles have changed
His second round of raising capital wasn’t as tough as the first, Olowe said, because investors approached him. This change shows him that he has the power as a person who gives them access.
He said: “I am not asking for money. “I know this company is going to be successful. I know what this brand is going to look like in the next two to five years.”
And if the investor passes the opportunity, they will be released.
“I’m very angry,” he said. “I’m not going back to you asking for money.”