ELEVAI Labs Inc. announced an initial public offering to raise USD 6 million to further grow its medical research and relating products in skincare. The company has developed a unique technology for exosomes, which ensures ethical stem cell acquisition and easy storage and use of its products. Dr. Jordan R. Plews, Founder and CEO of ELEVAI Labs Inc., a medical aesthetics company specializing in physician-dispensed skincare, told the California Business Journal about the company’s future plans.
Plews has a two-decade history in biochemical engineering and medical research. Plews grew up in California as a US-British dual citizen and pursued biochemical engineering studies at University College London. He later worked for Pfizer, where he specialized in optimizing and scaling up bioprocesses. He gained valuable experience at the pharmaceutical giant; however, as he felt drawn to regenerative medicine, he pursued a doctorate in stem cell research to explore ethical ways of producing stem cells, which involved reversing the age of adult skin cells, returning them back to an early stem cell state, similar to an embryonic stem cell without the use of embryos. His successes in developing an innovative mRNA-based cell signaling strategy led him back to California for a postdoc at Stanford, where he further focused on regenerative medicine for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
During this time, he discovered a passion for the intersection of science and business. Thus, he enrolled in a special Stanford Graduate School of Business program, which led to product management roles at established biotech companies to gather more industry experience. As he met with like-minded entrepreneurs, he banded together to co-found ELEVAI Labs.
But what is ethical stem cell research? “There are two major classes of stem cells, pluripotent stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs,” Plews told the California Business Journal. When people talk about stem cells, they often think of the first type, which includes stem cells derived from discarded embryos, a controversial source. However, ELEVAI uses the second type, commonly referred to as “MSCs”, which are derived from discarded tissue under consent of the donor. “MSCs are also known as adult stem cells and are the cells that mediate healing and repair in your body from birth onwards. So, the earliest or the youngest stem cells you can get ethically are right at the time of birth, from the umbilical cord. Hence, we are focused on researching these types of stem cells, purifying them from the portion of the umbilical cord known as Wharton’s jelly,” Plews said. Contrary to what many think, these stem cells do not come from cord blood, but from the gelatinous connective tissue of the umbilical cord.
These stem cells are very similar to ones found in the bone marrow, the adipose (fatty) tissue, and various niches throughout the body, including hair follicles and around the edge of the iris in the eye, and are responsible for recovery and repair in the body. “The medical aesthetics industry understands that through healing from a controlled micro-injury, you typically heal up better than you started,” Plews said. Most prominent procedures today purposefully activate the body’s wound healing response with the expectation that after somebody undergoes treatment, such as laser resurfacing, microdermabrasion, or microneedling, they will heal better than before, and the skin will look better.
“ELEVAI is designed to support that natural healing process, to nourish the skin and create an optimal environment for recovery, leveraging what we know about the healing power of stem cells,” Plews said. Therefore, ELEVAI creates topical products with stem cell exosomes. “ELEVAI is all about elevating skincare by tying back science to skincare,” Plews said.
Working on elevating the exosome technology, Plews’s company has developed ELEVAI Exosomes™ and PRExTM technology. The latter stands for Precision Regenerative Exosome technology, which allows ELEVAI to control the process. “It is a platform technology that essentially gives us vertical integration across stem cell acquisition, through lab processing and formulation and ultimately getting the product into the bottle, and it enables us to make different profiles of exosomes,” he adds. This means that ELEVAI can consistently produce the same profile of exosomes from the same type of cells using their PREx technology. The technology also allows them to tweak the processes to create exosomes for different purposes. “At the moment, we focus on skin and skin care. In the future, we will have different profiles of exosomes tied to hair for the improvement of the scalp,” Plews said.
Plews, a Scientist-Bioengineer-CEO, has a unique perspective in leading his company from a data and technology standpoint and highlights the importance of his mixed skillset in the biotech and science-based technology industry. ELEVAI’s focus on exosomes falls on four crucial pillars. “We focus on the source, which means using the right cell; the process, which means using our technology for proper stem cell processing, preservation and packaging using a unique enrichment and purification method coupled to high quality airless packaging, and ease of use for skin care professionals,” the chief said.
Plews appears adamant about creating potent and easy-to-use products as he draws parallels between the challenges of storing vaccines as they need specific temperatures to extend their shelf life. ELEVAI’s topical technology ensures stability and ease of use at aesthetic clinics, and Plews insists their products outperform competitors for ease of storage and use.
ELEVAI’s products have been embraced by the most influential figures in the skin care industry. “Our products are being used by the top dermatology and plastic surgeons in the country, such as Dr. Doris Day, #1 dermatologist in New York according to Newsweek, Dr. Tess Mauricio, trusted by celebrities including the Kardashians, and Dr. Brad Calobrace, a prominent plastic and cosmetic surgeon,” Plews said. He believes that once professionals start using their products, they become evangelists of ELEVAI.
Plews acknowledges a strong leadership team at ELEVAI. Dr Tim Sayed, his co-founder, is a Harvard-trained plastic surgeon who brings insight from the point of view of a clinician “He deeply understands the aesthetic marketplace. Having him on the team has given us a unique connection to our primary customer base: plastic surgeons and dermatologists. Together with other medical aesthetics professionals, we develop products to fit the needs of these top medical aesthetic professionals and their clientele,” Plews said.
Chief Commercial Officer Chris Kraneiss previously was at ZO Skin Health, where he was integral in taking the company from about USD 2 million to over USD 100 million in revenue in about five years. “He lead international expansion at ZO Skin Health, giving them a strong international presence—later being acquired by Blackstone,” Plews said. Similarly, Chief Marketing Officer Brenda Buechler helped launch ALASTIN Skincare, which was recently acquired by aesthetics giant Galderma. ELEVAI supplemented this internal team with renowned industry advisors, such as Jim Headley, who successfully ran Obagi Medical and ZO Skin Health as CEO after a long career in aesthetics at companies like Estee Lauder and L’Oreal.
“They believe in what we do, our science, and our products. And this has enabled us to attract highly talented individuals early on,” said Plews.
With this team, ELEVAI made an initial public offering of 1,500,000 shares of common stock at a public offering price of $4.00 per share for total gross proceeds of $6,000,000 before deducting underwriting discounts and offering expenses. The shares of common stock are on the Nasdaq Capital Market. “Proceeds from the IPO will enable us to expand our sales force quickly, invest in marketing efforts, and create some new products that we are excited about. We expect to hit the ground running for the next few quarters as we focus on supporting continued growth,” Plews said. Univest Securities, LLC and Webull Financial, LLC are co-underwriters for the Offering. Ortoli Rosenstadt LLP is acting as U.S. counsel to the Company, and Hunter Taubman Fischer & Li LLC is acting as U.S. counsel to the underwriters.
ELEVAI’s headquarters is in Newport Beach, but their teams are spread across the West Coast, with significant operations in Northern California. They also have team members in Canada, already selling products. The company rapidly expands internationally, with distributors and agreements in Kuwait, Vietnam, and the Philippines. They recently set up a distributor in Eastern Europe, marking their first entry into the European market. Overall, the company is experiencing growth in various directions simultaneously.
“ELEVAI is 15-20 years in the making even though the company is only about three years old. By any stretch of the imagination, launching and going public within about three years is an impressive feat. I think that speaks to our enthusiasm, passion, and relentlessness in our desire to grow and bring these technologies to a broader market as soon as possible,” Plews concluded.
Copyright © 2024 California Business Journal. All Rights Reserved.