From Suicidal Thoughts To Building A Light Therapy Startup Making $15K Per Month
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Greeting my fellow Earthlings! My journey begins with me being suicidal in 2019, depressed in 2020, hypnotized for success in April 2021 to launching Dermabeam in September 2021 to tackle the $100B skincare industry and ultimately a $10T healthcare industry.
My name is Takashi Yanagi and I’m manifesting Dermabeam to be the largest light therapy company in the world. There are thousands of research studies on the health benefits of light therapy, but it has not gone mainstream yet due to a lack of awareness and education. We strive to change that by offering the best light therapy masks and panels to help improve skin complexion, boost cellular energy, lower inflammation, and increase longevity.
Our flagship product is the Dermabeam Pro which is a light therapy mask that offers 115 medical-grade LEDs with 7 different colors to stimulate collagen production, kill acne bacteria, and restore youthful skin. It provides world-class comfort alongside unique features like eye protection and earpieces in the form of glasses (vs the uncomfortable strap). The Pro mask is lightweight, touch-activated (vs the hard-to-use remote control), and best of all - cordless with a rechargeable battery. It’s available on dermabeam.co and Amazon and also offered in dermatology offices in several states. We’re aiming to spread across the country and around the world.
My customers tend to be women for the masks and athletes for the panels, but everyone can use them at any age. The benefits of light therapy are vast and our cells fundamentally need light for energy and cellular repair. I’ve made it my goal to provide the best devices in the world for my customers!
I launched Dermabeam in September 2021 after coming up with the idea four months prior. I got my logo on Fiverr in June of 2021, so let’s just say I had many all-nighters trying to manifest this idea into reality. We did $35,000 in sales in 2021 and we’ve done $90,000 in the first half of 2022.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
A series of setbacks in life led me to create Dermabeam. Physically, I suffered from years of severe acne and eczema. Mentally, the condition of my skin destroyed my confidence for almost 20 years. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve felt uncomfortable in my inflamed and itchy skin. Emotionally, I experienced multiple traumas including my mom passing away in high school which led to even worse skin. I attribute the cause to extreme stress and hardship since she was my only caretaker. I went through college and never really got to enjoy the experience because I was always self-conscious and insecure about my face and body.
After graduating in 2016, I worked a series of jobs in finance that left me unfulfilled because I was helping to manifest someone else’s dream instead of my own. In 2019, I had to take a medical leave from my job because my skin had erupted in the most painful rashes of my life. My skin was extremely inflamed and I was bedridden for a week as it was painful for me to move. I had fallen into a deep depression and had even contemplated suicide, but something deep within me told me to keep going.
In 2020, I began my healing journey. I took a deep dive into health, nutrition, naturopathic medicine, and biohacking techniques which led me to light therapy as I searched desperately for answers to my skin problems. I began utilizing light therapy daily which allowed me to heal quicker and finally maintain healthier skin. This discovery changed my life as I regained my confidence and felt more comfortable in my skin. I was able to heal physically, but I was still lost professionally and spiritually with no job or purpose in life.
In early 2021, I saw a hypnotist after being inspired by Rob Dyrdek who talks about how he was “hypnotized for success.” I googled the nearest hypnotist and found Alma Maglaya whose office was located nearby my house. She guided me through the traumas that were holding me back and allowed me to untangle the knots in my subconscious that was preventing me from progressing in life. I left the session feeling refreshed and reborn. With a newfound purpose, I now had a desire to build something and began to manifest greatness. I wanted to create a legacy, and Dermabeam was born.
Go out and manifest. Write down and speak publicly about your manifestations - a higher power is listening.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I began looking at all the light therapy devices available in the market and identifying improvements that could be made to the existing products. The current masks were uncomfortable (strapped around the head) and corded (not user-friendly) with a remote control attached to the mask. We found a manufacturer who could make a comfortable mask using earpieces and implement a touch sensor so it could be cordless with no need for remote control.
When designing the product and the packaging, I was heavily influenced by (A.R.T.).
Apple, Rayban, and Tesla - are three of the dopest and most influential companies;
- Apple: Superior design
- Rayban: Coolness factor
- Tesla: Futuristic innovation and Elon’s work ethic
I made sure my logo was cool.
I made sure my box was cool.
Version 1 Box:
Version 2 Box:
I made sure my branding was cool.
I applied the same mentality when designing my panels which I call the Dermabeam Supremes. I didn’t like the modular designs (stacking smaller panels) of existing devices because it’s harder to set up and they didn’t look aesthetic. I wanted to offer a uniform panel with varying sizes that take up less room in the house and also look great.
The panels range in height from 9 inches (smallest) to 6 feet (tallest) and are used primarily by athletes and biohackers. It offers both red and near-infrared light which provides trillions of cells in the body with more energy (ATP) to help repair any damage. With cellular inflammation being involved in most medical conditions, Dermabeam Supremes offer a safe and effective way to combat inflammation daily.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My launch was underwhelming in the sense that I had no party or a big announcement. I just simply turned the sales portion of the website “on” with no celebration involved. We launched in September 2021 and sold only 4 masks that month. In hindsight, we definitely could’ve done a better job of building hype on social media.
My buddy runs Core Digital Expansion, and he helped set up the initial website and advertising accounts. I wish I had a screenshot of the 1st website to show you, but I’ve made significant upgrades and improvements since the early days. Every day, I seem to be tinkering with the website to improve product descriptions or images or pages, etc. It never ends!!!
I’ve hired a variety of contractors who help me with things like 3D renders, logo and package designs, and shipping and logistics. When choosing my 3PL, I interviewed over ten providers and narrowed it down to one that best fits my budget and location.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I reached out to a ton of skincare and beauty influencers and only a handful replied to my emails. Fortunately, Cassandra Bankson (1.8M Youtube subscribers) took an interest in Dermabeam. I sent her a care package and she made a video for Black Friday highlighting the Dermabeam promotion as one of the brands she covered. This led to an explosion in sales and we sold over 100 units in 3 days which was our first taste of success and allowed us to continue working with her.
I also like to give celebrities care packages. This video of me giving the Dermabeam Pro to Diplo went viral and garnered 300K views on Tiktok.
For the first 7 months, I was focused on marketing Dermabeam in the most creative ways possible. I would give it to DJs to wear on stage or in the club. This translated to more eyeballs, but not dollars. Unfortunately, the raver audience doesn’t fit my target demographic of women 30-65 so my efforts didn’t translate to sales. I’ve toned down the spending on creative marketing to focus more on relevant skincare influencers, but I continue to do free marketing every time I rage. One of my long-term goals is to manifest a Dermafest where all my DJ homies get a custom mask and perform on a huge Dermabeam stage in the shape of a mask.
I’ve also sent care packages to numerous skincare and beauty magazine editors. Some were kind enough to feature Dermabeam including Clean Beauty Magazine!
Here’s eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno using his Dermabeam Supreme 2400W.
Dermabeam was used to help heal Neyo who went viral for getting a botched chemical peel.
Dermabeam was also featured in Kygo’s music video for his song Dancing Feet!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
- 2021 Sales: $35000
- 2022 Sales: $90000
- ROAS: 2x
- LTV: $240
- CAC: $80
- Time on site: 50 seconds
- Monthly visitors: 5000
- IG Followers: 5600
- TT Followers: 4500
The company is on track to reach profitability in 2022. The online store makes up the majority of the sales. We have launched on Amazon and are also offered by popular dermatologists such as Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Emer within their stores. For 2022, we are working to land more and more doctors and dermatologists and have them endorse the brand. We are also working to create more video content to post on all social media platforms.
Additional sales will be reinvested back into the business. The long-term goals include being on Shark Tank, conducting clinical trials on Dermabeam devices, and getting retail distribution such as in Ulta, Sephora, Target, and Walmart.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My Decisions & Lessons Learned:
- Bad: Before Dermabeam, I started working on a candle company called Clearlumin with the goal of selling during the 2021 Christmas season. I overextended myself trying to manifest 2 companies which ended up costing me around $15k. The time lost is irreplaceable.
- Bad: I spent $30k on popular IG and TikTok influencers that did nothing for Dermabeam because they were irrelevant to my core customer. Don’t get caught in the hype. Popularity does NOT mean sales. The time lost is irreplaceable.
- Bad: I opened a kiosk in the Culver City mall that didn’t have any of my core customers. I lasted 4 days, made only one sale, and it cost me around $5k. The time lost is irreplaceable.
- Good: I went door-to-door in Beverly Hills giving every dermatologist I could find a Dermabeam. This led to landing Dr. Emer and Dr. Nazarian as valuable clients.
- Good: I sent care packages to editors of skincare and beauty magazines. This led to free publicity!
- Good: I posted lots of content on TikTok and one EDC video got 700k views and one Diplo video got 300k views. This led to free publicity!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Website: Wordpress
- Ecom: Woocommerce
- Graphics: Canva
- Video: Final Cut Pro
- Gifs: Giphy
- Emails: Mailchimp
- Contractors: Fiverr
- Heatmaps: Hotjar
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Naval Podcast & Tweets - pure wisdom from Naval Ravikant that inspires me.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance - Elon’s work ethic and manifestations motivate me to keep going.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
- Go out and manifest. Write down and speak publicly about your manifestations - a higher power is listening.
- Identify your core customer and specific demographic info (sex, age, income, race, education, location, etc.) at the very beginning - every decision should revolve around satisfying your core customer, not identifying them early will cost you monies!
- Develop a style guide (font, colors, design, shapes, format, etc.) that your core customer likes and be consistent with it on all posts and website changes. Develop the brand early so your life becomes easier as you scale - I’ve had to redo my brand multiple times and it cost me lots of money!
- Only pay for influencers that your core customer likes, any other influencer is irrelevant and a waste of monies!
- Google is your friend. Go find the answer.
- Seriously, go manifest greatness.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m looking for manifestos. Currently, we are looking for product designers, engineers, and app developers who can help manifest Dermabeam’s vision. If you believe in our vision, we will look at your resume regardless of the role. Email us: [email protected] and SHOW US why you manifest!
Where can we go to learn more?
- Takashi’s Instagram
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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