Yaumi Fauziah Sugiharta was Head of Product Marketing at Go-Life (Go-Jek entity) back in 2017 and she ran her own skincare blog as a passion project. While engaging with her readers on social media, she received a lot of queries from young women across the nation on how to choose the right skin care products. She realized this might be a challenge and opportunity for innovation.
The journey goes on as she teamed up with her biochemist friend Ratih Permata Sari, who was former Tech Product Manager at DBS Singapore. The two then co-founded Base in March 2019, an Indonesian personalized direct-to-consumer (DTC) beauty and wellness company.
Through its online platform, Base offers personalized skincare solutions based on online consultation results. According to Base’s survey, it looks to resolve the burden of having too many product options, which is a problem for 72% of women in Indonesia.
Yaumi, CEO of Base, believes that every woman shall have the liberation to define their own beauty and have their own unique way to achieve their skin goals. She said that Base was born to remove the burden of choices, by simplifying the product discovery process and get your personalized products with the help of technologies.
While Ratih, who acts as Chief Product Officer said, powered by data, Base will analyze how the environment and lifestyle are affecting our skin conditions. The platform learns from the skin consultation results from consumers and adapts solutions to meet the consumer needs.
Currently, they are partnering with research and development labs in London and Seoul to help them with product development and thoughtfully produce it locally in Jakarta. With pricing starts at IDR 98,000 (USD 7), they want to ensure that they deliver high-quality products while still keeping them affordable.
In September 2019, Base has raised an undisclosed seed funding round, co-led by local venture capital firms East Ventures and Skystar Capital. Inv Asia met with Yaumi and Ratih, Co-Founders of Base at their office in Jakarta to talk about the skincare and beauty business in Indonesia and the application of the latest technologies.
Inv Asia: What is the philosophy behind the name “Base”?
Yaumi: Basically we have this philosophy that being beautiful and being the best version of yourself start from self-confidence. Skin is the largest organ of your body. When your skin is good, you will feel good about yourself too.
It’s kinda like back to basic, so “base”.
Inv Asia: How did you notice there is a need for personalized skin solutions?
Yaumi: It is very interesting because at first we only spread it via some WhatsApp groups. We spread it out through our personal groups with friends and families and basically ask them, “do you have skin problems? If so, maybe we can analyze and see what kind of products are good for your skin.”
Surprisingly, it went viral. I don’t know why. We did it over a weekend and got around 1,000 responses through WhatsApp. When we look at the data, what makes me surprised is a lot of these girls are coming from various cities in Indonesia, such as Kalimantan, Sumatra, West and East Nusa Tenggara. So we assume that a lot of people do have needs and it just got viral organically.
Inv Asia: How did you two officially decide to team up and turn this into a startup business?
Yaumi: I have been running my own skincare blog, and I heard about the product choice problem over and over again. I assume the problem is big enough and it is something that I want to solve.
During that time, I told Ratih I was going to join this startup incubator in Singapore. I shared with her what I found out and how I planned to dig deeper and come up with a better solution. I told her I have this huge urge to change the beauty industry landscape in Indonesia.
Ratih asked, “Have you found a partner? Maybe you can consider me?” Then I knew she has biochemistry background- we have known each other for a long time and she never brought it up.
We have always been friends and we realized we share the same core value, vision and mission on this project as well. Long story short, we decided to be on board together.
Inv Asia: Can you walk us through the process of how to use Base?
Ratih: It is quite simple, you go to our website www.base.co.id and take the skin analysis survey, which helps diagnose your skin type and lifestyle.
We try to minimize the survey to less than 5 minutes, but include everything that we need to know to show you the skin analysis result and tell you why and how to prevent the problems.
After that, we will direct you to see the curated ingredients that will be suitable for your skin type and skin problems. When you click next, you will see a list of products that you can purchase, which contain the ingredients that we already curated for you.
Inv Asia: Is the result based on big data and algorithm?
Ratih: Right now we wouldn’t call it big data. We get data from our consumers and try to analyze it. For example, why acnes? Is it because you sleep too late? Is it hormonal change? Is it something related to diet?
Inv Asia: Who are target customers for Base? How would you summarize their skincare preference and shopping habits?
Yaumi: According to the survey we spread earlier, the age demographic is around millennials, people born around 80s and early 90s. But the number shifted now.
Ratih: We are both quite shock actually. Initially, we thought that people who were interested to take the survey would be 22–34 years old, who have a job and thus capable to purchase. But in the past two months, the segment of age on our waitlist is getting younger and younger, even as young as 14 years old.
Yaumi: When I was 14 years old, so 7 or 8 grader, I didn’t even know how to take care of my skin. According to our data, it is different now.
Ratih: We try to position Base to cater to both millennials and Gen Z. I think both millennials and Gen Z demand the same things, when it comes to skincare products: transparency, clean beauty and sustainability.
But how these two segments discover products are different. So it is our job to customize and grab the attentions of both groups.
Inv Asia: Does Base aim to be a DTC (direct-to-consumer) beauty and wellness company? What is your model?
Yaumi: We were actually just discussing that. If you look at the trend in the U.S., for example, there are a lot of DTC brands across the verticals. But I think in Indonesia, there are only several DTC brands, like Fore Coffee in F&B. But for the beauty industry, there were some kind of hybrid models between DTC, e-commerce, traditional retailers and C2C marketplaces. Speaking of purely DTC, I believe that Base is the first one in beauty and skincare section.
Ratih: There is a new term called “digitally native brand” because a lot of DTC brands in the US are moving offline and open physical stores, after succeeding with their online channels.
I think the term that we are trying to use on Base is to become a digitally native brand. We are starting as a digital brand now but our business is going to evolve and we are open to the idea to have an offline store by then. At this point, we want to be digitally active and grow through our digital platforms.
Yaumi: I think when it comes to the definition for DTC, it means we produce our own products. We know what things we are producing in terms of formulation and R&D. In terms of distribution, it means that we are not following the traditional retailer way, but have a closer and more direct connection with our customers.
Inv Asia: Is there any DTC brand that you admire or want to learn from?
Yaumi: There are a lot of successful DTC brands like Warby Parker, Away, Harry’s Company, and Casper in the U.S. For us, we can pick and choose to learn from all these brands that already exist in the market.
Inv Asia: There are a few local skincare brands that are launching their online shopping platforms too. How does Base differentiate its products and positioning?
Yaumi: I think it is a good question. There are a lot of brands that are popular on Instagram. I think the differences between us and them is we are a tech company. We are not limiting ourselves in beauty products. We are data-driven, so our product, research and development are backed by data.
We position ourselves as an affordable luxury skincare brand. Our potential users include high school students, college students, whose consumption ability is still limited.
Ratih: I think we want to be an exceptional brand with a good image. Imagine Base as a person.