If you’ve ever squinted in the fluorescent lighting of a Rite Aid or Target with absolutely no idea what to pick from the rainbow of products in the skincare aisle, apparently you’re not alone.
Dermatologist Lily Talakoub, of McClean Dermatology and Skincare Center, said that the most common problem people had in her office was that very few people actually knew what the best products were for their skin.
“They would go to CVS about five to seven times to find things or they’d look at social media millions of times and buy products, but either have the wrong products or, even if they bought the right products, they would not even know how to apply them,” Talakoub said.
The confusion led Talakoub to create Derm to Door, an app that uses AI to diagnose skin issues. The app, which launched last month and is available for iPhone and Android users, uses AI to scan users’ skin. An algorithm, which is outfitted with over a thousand skin diagnoses, will then determine the problem and make recommendations for either prescription or over-the-counter products. The app, which already has about 2000 users and 500 product orders a month, will also save photos for users to view progress after using the recommendations.
An iOS update launching this week will also allow patients in the DMV area and California to schedule live, virtual appointments through the app. Following the pandemic-inspired telehealth trend, Talakoub hopes to expand this option across the country in the coming months.
“If COVID hadn’t happened, I don’t think telederm would have been as prevalent as it is now,” Talakoub said. “But now with Covid people that are my patients in my own practice are asking if they can use the telederm aspect just to talk with me live.”
Derm to Door is currently self-funded by Talakoub, but in the next six months the company will be looking for a $10 million capital raise to help expand the virtual appointments to the rest of the U.S., and hire a sales force. She said she’s already reached out to both large-scale telehealth platforms and beauty care companies like Glossier, but she’s also gathered some attention from women-owned funds looking to invest solely in women-owned ventures.
"If COVID hadn't happened, I don't think telederm would have been as prevalent as it is now."
The women-focused support is a bright spot for Talakoub, who’s more than familiar with working in a male-dominated industry.
“This is my first venture into the tech world because obviously I’m a doctor, but being in medicine also is a male-dominated field,” Talakoub said. “You have to have and develop a very thick skin moving through medicine…and the tech world’s dominated by men, so having people that really support women is really honestly one of the best things I’ve encountered.”
Since last March, medical practices have already adapted to making in-person appointments as safe as they can. But for Talakoub and her plans to grow Derm to Door, virtual health is something that she thinks will continue expanding, especially given the benefits outside of COVID safety.
“If you can take five minutes out of your day and do a conference call, why spend that time calling on the phone to make an appointment?” Talakoub said. “All those factors matter in taking a half a day off work, driving to the doctor’s office, filling out the forms, sitting in the waiting room, getting taken back, seeing the doctor…taking time off work and losing work time is now has become unnecessary.”-30-