SEOUL, South Korea–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Korea is expected to enter the super-aging era at the fastest rate globally, and a wide range of its consumers in the market are expected to be comprised of its elderly population. As the economically competent senior generation is attracting attention due to its buying power, various anti-aging products are being introduced into the beauty market. According to Hebronstar, which specializes in management consulting, the domestic anti-aging market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 13.2%, with cosmetics leading 75% of this growth, followed by the medical sector (18%) and service sector (7%).
Given the transition of the senior generation into a new major consumer class, the skin beauty market is trending toward minimally invasive and non-invasive procedures that can cover aging beyond beauty. Botulinum toxin and hyaluronic acid filler are the anti-aging procedures that currently lead the market. However, these products have clear limitations in terms of their lasting effectiveness. In addition, owing to the intensified competition due to the market’s low entry barriers, consumers’ ability to discern the quality of various products remains limited.
DEXLEVO is a venture company that has attracted significant interest due to its development of innovative products, such as the world’s first successful liquid polymer fillers. The company emerged with a pre-investment valuation of KRW 250 billion during the pre-IPO funding process in November of last year.
Goal to enter the global skincare market
Founded in 2013, DEXLEVO develops beauty products based on biodegradable polymer technology. After significant research, the company developed the world’s first liquid polymer fillers. DEXLEVO’s liquid polymer filler is in a liquid form when outside the body, unlike existing small particle formulations. However, when injected into the body, it transforms into particles and regenerates collagen in the skin to express anti-aging effects. Jaewon You—the CEO of DEXLEVO—said, “While we were looking for an item after setting our business direction in the skincare field, we paid attention to the fact that biodegradable polymer filler products, which were popular in Korea at the time, are in small particle form and are only used in limited areas such as the nasolabial folds.” He added, “By liquefying it, we have developed the world’s first liquid polymer filler without restrictions on use and side effects.”
DEXLEVO’s liquid polymer filler is different from existing fillers in that it promotes collagen regeneration within the skin. Existing fillers also have a collagen regeneration effect. However, since they are in the form of particles, it is impossible to inject them into the skin evenly. Thus, these fillers could only be used for topical areas such as nasolabial folds. However, DEXLEVO solved this limitation. When a high molecular compound is injected into the skin in liquid form, it can be used in various areas by regenerating collagen around the skin while transforming it into small particles within the skin.
Based on differentiated technology, DEXLEVO secured a European CE marking for the liquid polymer filler under the brand name ‘GOURI’ in the first half of 2021, thereby laying the foundation for its entry into the global market. In addition, upon launching ‘GOURI’ at AMWC, DEXLEVO signed supply contracts with local companies in Spain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Europe, Southwest Asia, and Latin America. Jaewon You stated, “With GOURI, which has received European CE (a conformity mark of EC directives) certification since 2022, we are entering into local markets in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. In Korea, the product approval process will be completed by 2022 and the product will be released in 2023, following which clinical trials with the US FDA will proceed.”
Secured an investment value of KRW 250 billion
Jaewon You, who gained practical experience at Samyang Corporation and CELLTRION, observed great potential in the skincare market given the rapid restructuring of society into an aging one. Jaewon You stated, “In the pharmaceutical and biofields such as anticancer drugs and drugs for treating rare diseases, it is not easy to compete with global Big Pharma in terms of financial power and research ability, but I believed that we had sufficient competitiveness in the skincare field globally.” He added, “Korea has a high interest in cosmetic procedures due to its culture that values extroversion, and I viewed this as an opportunity to utilize our excellent medical personnel and manufacturing base.”
With the successful launch of ‘GOURI’ in 2021, DEXLEVO, which participated as the main sponsor of AMWC and signed a supply contract worth about 30 million dollars, raised KRW 26 billion in pre-IPO funding last November. Existing shareholders, which included MAGNA investment and HANA financial investment (KRW 10 billion), Smilegate Investment (Smilegate Aphrodite Serve One Fund; KRW 10 billion), Hyundai Venture Investment (Hyundai Youth Fund No. 2; KRW 4 billion), and Shinhan Capital (KRW 2 billion), participated in the pre-IPO funding.
Interestingly, the investment value was set at 250 billion won, which is approximately six times higher than the pre-investment standard (series B of KRW 40 billion in 2018). Jaewon You stated, “The original funding was planned to be KRW 20 billion, but it was increased to KRW 26 billion due to active investment requests from existing shareholders who highly evaluated the company’s future growth potential.” He added, “In addition to existing shareholders, many venture capitalists and private equity (PE) firms also expressed their intention to invest, but the existing shareholders alone exceeded the planned investment, so the external investment was excluded.”
Additionally, Jaewon You stated, “The future of DEXLEVO is important, and I believe that an IPO is not the goal, but that the IPO will follow. The ultimate goal is to become the number one company in the global beauty industry.”
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