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Founder Highlight: Ju Rhyu

20 September 2021

A Conversation with the Co-Founder and CEO of Hero Cosmetics

When Hero Cosmetics Co-Founder/CEO Ju Rhyu introduced Korean acne patches to a US audience, she knew she had a hit on her hands. The company currently sells a box of the ‘Mighty Patch’ every 5 seconds, and the product has racked up awards from Allure, PopSugar, Refinery29, Women’s Health, Essence Magazine, and many more.

Ju has been named to the Inc. Magazine 2019 Female Founders 100 list and was a Yotpo 2019 ‘Amazing Woman in Ecommerce.’ Additionally, Ju enjoys sharing tips with like-minded entrepreneurs, so we knew she was just the person to share her fundraising learnings with our network.

1. What would you recommend to a founder going through their first fundraise?

Figure out what’s important to you. For us, finding the right people and partners was more important than the money itself. However, for other founders, they may prefer hands-off investors and the financial terms may be most important to them. Knowing what matters to you in an investor will help narrow the pool and give you a good lens through which you can evaluate people and term sheets.

2. What are your most important considerations when selecting an investor?
  • Shared vision and goals. You should find investors who truly believe in what you are trying to do, love the brand, and the founders.
  • Shared expectations for financial outcomes. For example, I always asked funds what their expected return was and their time horizon. Anyone who was looking for something beyond what was reasonable in beauty/personal care wasn’t a fit for us.
  • People who you want to be in the ditch with. Choose people who you will want by your side when the going gets rough.
3. In your opinion, what makes a business investment worthy?

Some things that I would look for are:

  • Strong differentiation in their category
  • Ability to continue to expand and grow
  • Market validation that they have a right to exist
  • Strong gross margins
  • Efficient use of capital with good returns, ie, you’re not buying revenue
  • Great culture and ability to recruit strong talent
4. What are your thoughts on bringing an investment banker into the process?

We worked with an investment banker and I was very happy that we did. Since it was our first fundraise, I knew nothing about the process or term sheets, lingo, or deal structures. I was glad to have someone who helped hold our hand throughout the process and also shoulder some of the workload so that the founders could focus on operating the business.

The other key element that an investment banker does that is immensely valuable is acting as the project manager once you are in due diligence. You need someone who will keep the process moving and make sure deliverables are sent and dates to close are met otherwise the closing date can keep moving and 45 days can easily turn into 60 can turn into 90. 


About Hero Cosmetics

Hero Cosmetics is a functional skin solutions company built to help not only the physical, but also the emotional obstacles that come with issue-prone skin. Since 2017, Hero has grown from a startup with a single product to an established acne-care brand that has increased revenue by 3-5x year over year with solutions that work together to prevent blemishes and restore skin health. The brand takes a consciously clinical approach to skincare, developing products with gentle and effective ingredients, transparent product details, and accessible price points. 

  • Hero Cosmetics sells a box of Mighty Patch every 5 seconds and has been profitable since Y1
  • Hero was bootstrapped for its first 3 years and raised its first round of funding with Aria Growth Partners in November of 2020
  • The Mighty Patch won ‘Allure’s Best of Beauty’ in 2020

About Ju

Ju Rhyu is Co-Founder/CEO of Hero Cosmetics. Hero Cosmetics was launched in 2017 with one product, Mighty Patch, as a test on Amazon. Now, Hero Cosmetics sells across channels like Amazon, Target, DTC, Neiman Marcus, Goop, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and more.

She has been named to the Inc. Magazine 2019 Female Founders 100 list and was named a Yotpo 2019 Amazing Woman in eCommerce. She is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School and splits her time between Paris and NYC.