Last Updated on November 16, 2020
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About Derek Jouppi
I am a 27 year old entrepreneur, engineer, & avid sun safety advocate. I founded my startup startup Suncayr (est. 2014), and have since invented & patented SPOTMYUV alongside Andrew Martinko and Chad Sweeting. SPOTMYUV is the world’s first clinically proven sticker which changes colour when you need to reapply sunscreen. I have 6 years of experience speaking about sun safety & startups for local/national television, print media, & conferences.
Suncayr started as an engineering design project, but soon became a full time job once we saw how much people loved the idea of SPOTMYUV. SPOTMYUV is a sticker which tells you every time you need to reapply your sunscreen. The sticker uses a unique technology to sense sunscreen’s SPF to be able to monitor what your skin is seeing. Our idea even won us a Dyson award in 2014, which was tons of validation we were onto something. We started SPOTMYUV because we wanted to teach people how to use sunscreen better. We have friends & family with skin cancer & melanoma. Skin cancer is nearly entirely preventable, with researchers estimating 99% are caused by overexposure to the sun. We chose to focus on this because there are so many types of cancer that you can’t do anything about – but skin cancer is extremely preventable if you have proper sun safety.
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
We launched in Australia as we were gaining traction there due to our clinical trials being run there. We chose Australia not just for the clinical trial environment but also because they have the worlds highest incidence of skin cancer. We were mainly online & ran promotions with the local surf clubs along the Gold Coast. SPOTMYUV is now available in the UK, Australia, USA, and Canada in 3500+ retail stores including Albertsons, Boots, and more.
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
We have a standard B2C consumer product model with SPOTMYUV. We sell both online & in retail. We merchandise and promote alongside sunscreen brands as SPOTMYUV can be used with any sunscreen. We tie in our product with sunscreen as a way to attract new customers. People who use SPOTMYUV consume 2-3x more sunscreen as they actually remember to reapply when they should. This fact alone creates tons of growth potential with retailers who sell sunscreen & with the sunscreen brands themselves.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
If you have a lower price point like ourselves, be aware that the cost per click in a digital advertising sense is the same whether you have a $10 or a $1000 dollar product. You might have different conversion ratios of-course (as people are more willing to spend on a $10 product over a $1000), but if your targeting & product are good, you should still be making more money on the $1000 item. A way to increase basket size is to offer more products or bundles of your product, such that the average basket size hits higher than what your product sells for typically. This is why most consumer brands have lots of items under their brand if they are low cost brands.
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
The sun protection market is seasonal even in hot areas. Being Canadian, we would assume that places like Australia & California (which don’t have snowy winters for the most part), are still active in the sun. However, even if the temperature is nice for us Canadians, it’s still cold for the locals, and they aren’t active in the sun. It creates a very lumpy sales cycle unless you do what we do and market opposite hemispheres.
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
Craziest good: We came second in the Dyson award competition around 3-4 months after creating our startup. We had over 1.5 Billion impressions on all the media articles written about us. We were thrust into the limelight and had immediate pressure to create this product
Craziest bad: We synthesize the colour changing ink of SPOTMYUV ourselves. We had a shipment of a precursor ingredient which was a white powder come in from an overseas supplier. At the time, there was a huge Fentanyl problem in Canada and our very important shipment was seized by the Canadian government for possible Fentanyl. It obviously wasn’t that ingredient, but we were now stuck finding this material to keep our dye production alive somehow. Certainly a crazy and unexpected event in our startup lives.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
Fiction: The Harry Potter series. My nostalgia bias is too strong
Non-Fiction: The 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team. It taught me how to manage people – something which is non intuitive for an engineer.
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
- Lessons Learned From Over 15 Years Of Entrepreneurship With Ron Ben-Ari
- Focus On Getting The First Customer With Jason Cherubini
- How To Adapt And Be Resourceful And Find Customers Online With Alex Willen
Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!
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