CEO REAL TALK
Jeremy Cheung, CEO of Jubilee Skincare on Adopting K-Biotechnology and Entering the Global Beauty Market
By Jeong Yoo-Jin
Established in California by Harvard Business School alumni, Jubilee Skincare is a cutting-edge beauty company that discovers advanced technologies and unique raw materials and shares them with the world. The company seeks to create “win-win” results by sourcing materials from companies around the world and commercializing them into luxury cosmetic brands.
Jeremy Cheung, CEO of Jubilee Skincare, recently launched “NAIIAN”—a cosmetics brand developed with Korean stem cell technology—in the United States. This latest luxury cosmetic brand is targeted at the top 1%. “After analyzing numerous stem cell companies around the world, we found that Korea has the third largest number of stem cell clinical trials, following the United States and Iran,” says Cheung, a Canadian native. “We focused on the technological process and competitiveness and decided to adopt K-Biotechnology.”
"Jubilee’s first brand, NAIIAN, is unique for its patented technology, a blend of 250 stem cell-derived growth factors that we call its Cultivated Stem Cell Matrix," he says. “NAIIAN’s proprietary water technology—known as DNA Water—is also 50% more effective than normal water, so it is much more easily absorbed by the skin and helps to restore the body to a healthier state.”
Tell us why you started Jubilee.
"The company's vision is to discover new and innovative beauty and skin technologies around the world to enhance youthfulness. We wanted to become a 'skin beauty technology platform' that develops products for beauty customers around the world."
What motivated you to become interested in the K-beauty industry?
“Since the 1970s, my parents and relatives have been in the business of developing and manufacturing personal care products in China and Hong Kong. Influenced by this, I have been running a beauty and fashion business for the past 30 years. I have always worked closely with technology and have built a global network through my time in the US, South Korea, Canada, Hong Kong, and China. I thought I could connect and integrate all these experiences as what I call a ‘CNO,’ Chief Network Officer. "
I’ve never heard of CNO. What does that mean?
"As the CEO, I oversee the company's management. At the same time, I play the role of CNO (Chief Network Officer). In the current beauty industry, development, manufacturing, and distribution are not vertically integrated well. Knowledge, science, and technology are scattered all over the world. There are developers that have the world's best technology, even if they aren’t a large company. On the other hand, there are companies around the world whose only strength is commercialization in their own region. The goal of our team is to create a business by connecting, integrating, developing, and selling. To effectively describe this concept, we are using the term CNO."
I heard that your team has brilliant resumes.
"All members of our team are Harvard graduates. Anthony Bennett is a Harvard MBA. The award-winning Dr. Vincent Li went to medical school at Harvard and MIT. Managing director Jimmy Ahn is from Harvard Law School. We call them the Jubilee Avengers."
Sounds like a strong team. What is their role?
“Vincent Li, a professor of anti-aging and dermatology at Harvard Medical School, evaluates and identifies the technologies discovered by Jubilee.
Jimmy Ahn is a managing director at CD&R, a firm invested in many businesses including Sally Beauty Holdings, the largest professional beauty product distributor in the US. Before CD&R, Jimmy worked at McKinsey after graduating from Stanford University and Harvard Law School. Jimmy helps to oversee our company’s partnership strategy and fundraising.
Anthony Bennett is a graduate of Harvard Business School and a branding expert from Ogilvy & Mather and Leo Burnett, both world-class advertising and marketing companies. He is in charge of Jubilee's brand marketing strategy.
Jeeyoon Rhee served as a designer for luxury brands such as Tiffany & Co. and L’Oréal and is currently the product designer for Jubilee. Marie Jhin is a dermatologist who graduated from Cornell University and Wellesley College. She implements the NAIIAN product supply strategy in the dermatology distribution channel. Yongseok Jang graduated from Seoul National University and Harvard Business School. After graduation, he worked at various management executive positions at McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, eBay Japan, CJ Group, and LG Electronics. Yongseok is in charge of our company's financial management.”
There are a lot of luxury skincare lines and products already. What are your thoughts on the industry?
“Currently the beauty industry is dominated only by big brands (Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, LVMH, etc.), trends (vegan, natural, etc.), and celebrity-founded brands. Even though there are already many excellent skin technologies around the world, it is not easy for them to successfully enter the market and they do not have the power to compete or even co-exist in the global market. Jubilee is trying to discover these skin technology companies and provide them with business opportunities."
What is the first global launch item of the Jubilee team?
"Our first project is the stem cell culture media cosmetics brand NAIIAN. NAIIAN is based on technology with human stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord and 250 growth factors obtained during their cultivation process.
Korea’s research on umbilical cord stem cells is the third most active research field in the world, following the United States and Iran. Korea is at the forefront of application and clinical trials in the beauty field. That's why we want to develop NAIIAN using the world's best human stem cell beauty technology as a representative of K-beauty."
I am curious about the raw materials for your key ingredients (stem cells, DNA water, red ginseng).
“More than 90% of beauty products are made of water, but few brands have focused on the importance of improving water performance. We feel that we need to apply world-class technology on water because water makes up the majority of products’ content.
The proprietary water (DNA Water) used in NAIIAN products is processed water, which greatly enhances the emulsion effect of water molecules and is 50% or more effective than normal water. So, any active ingredients can be easily absorbed and moisture the skin.
In addition, antioxidants are very important to help soothe the skin. Saponin, a chemical found in red ginseng, is not only a strong antioxidant, but also beneficial to improving skin in various ways. It was judged to be the optimal antioxidant ingredient.”
Why are you aiming for the 1%?
"Even though many cosmetic materials have been developed and commercialized, only a few technologies have passed strict verification are adopted for high-end cosmetics. One of these technologies is stem cell technology. I am looking for people who are willing to constantly look for effective technology that can improve results even incrementally. I do not expect that there will be a lot of people in this category. But the world is big and even just 1% of consumers is already a very large market. One of our important future plans for NAIIAN’s audience is to provide them a personalized cosmetics service with our stem cell water cocktail.
What differentiates NAIIAN products from other products in this saturated beauty market?
"The essence of NAIIAN is simple: The best anti-aging technology and raw materials in the world. In terms of our plan for distribution in the US, we will start with strategic display distribution and then gradually we want to sell through large distribution channels such as department stores, select shops and beauty chains, and online distribution networks. And eventually NAIIAN wants to develop a subscription mobile app for our customized stem cell water cocktail."
Is there a reason you think that ‘NAIIAN’ is competitive in the global market?
“Our stem cell product is produced in a vertically integrated research and production facility that holds 309 patents in 147 countries around the world. Unlike other brands that claim to have stem cell condition media ingredients inside their product, our product is created from a one-stop vertically integrated stem cell facility that includes stem cell research; stem cell extraction; stem cell culturing, processing, and banking; medical treatment, and commercial product development and production. In my opinion this is very unique and probably only we can make this claim in the world. I am also confident in our team's global infrastructure network and marketing capabilities."
Partnerships and models with world skincare technology.
"Jubilee is literally CND—a business that connects and develops. We will commercialize the business by partnering with the best technology and science firms and match our partners with the best marketing and sales. Here, we will work as partners together to launch a new brand globally, connecting technology and distribution as one entity. If necessary, we will invest and IPO together. We will maximize synergies, such as strategic and financial partnerships that lead. In summary, Jubilee is looking for aspirational companies in skin technology development and ambitious distribution channel partners, so we can work together for the same vision.”
Which regions overseas are strong when it comes to commercialization?
"The United States, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. The distribution network is already prepared. Currently, our business is focused on investment and not yet on generating sales. We believe that we will take a bigger leap in the future."
Finally, what are the company's core values and goals?
"It is to discover the best skin beauty science, raw materials, and experts on the planet, integrate them, and operate a business platform that commercializes them. We will provide the best benefits to our customers' skin beauty."