Skip to content

Female Disruptors: Dr. Carolina Reis Oliveira of OneSkin On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Be laser focused on solving one problem at a time. If you have a clear problem, you have a business, if you have two problems, you are done.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carolina Reis Oliveira.

Carolina Reis Oliveira holds her Ph.D. in Immunology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in collaboration with Rutgers University and is an alumnus of IndieBio, the world’s leading biotechnology accelerator. In 2016, Carolina relocated to Silicon Valley from Latin America to co-found OneSkin, and to lead the development of the company’s disruptive rejuvenation technologies for optimal skin health.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

From one side, I was lucky to witness my father and brother starting their own ventures and completely transforming the ecosystem they were inserted in. I was amazed at what is to create a significant impact in many people’s lives and in the land they were working on. On the other side, I was always inspired by the opportunity to use science to address the most fundamental problems of humanity, how we can live a healthy — free of diseases and suffering — and more fulfilling life. This passion led me to get involved in cutting-edge research in the field of stem cells and tissue engineering and by the end of my PhD I joined two other colleagues and we decided to bring this research to solve unmet needs in the life-sciences industry. That was the first step into an entrepreneurial journey that we have been on for seven years now.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We are developing products to address aging at the molecular level and extend the lifespan of our skin, aka, skinspan, which means the time our skin is healthy and functional. Most products in the market are focused on treating the symptoms, not the root causes. We have spent 5 years replicating skin aging in the lab and have found a proprietary peptide, a little piece of protein, that can target the underlying causes of skin aging, and promote an overall improvement in skin health, at the molecular and external level.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In one of my pitch presentations I was brainstorming with a mentor that was a great storyteller and he made an analogy comparing old skin we were growing in the lab as if we were replicating many “grandmas” to test our products. The way he presented it sounded so intriguing. I tried to replicate the analogy and it didn’t land well and I learned the importance of authentic storytelling.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I am very fortunate to have had so many great mentors along the way. From friend entrepreneurs who were more experienced and ahead of me in their ventures, to an advisor who prepared us to come to the US, to the founding partners of IndieBio, the biotech accelerator that helped us to get a foot in Silicon Valley. One of these partners specifically has become one of my main mentors and he is also one of the most inspiring leaders I’ve known. At one pitch presentation, he gave me very harsh feedback that made me feel terrible in the first moment, but it ended up working as a fuel to allow my real abilities to come around stronger and better prepared for whatever the future may hold.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

The reality is, disruption is always good for someone. But it is not inherently good or bad. While it is an opportunity for some, for others it’s a threat. For example, in our case, disruption means to develop a new approach to tackle skin aging. For all the other companies that are behind the new advances that could lead to a more effective product, we are a threat.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Build what you believe should exist, not what will make you money.

Be laser focused on solving one problem at a time. If you have a clear problem, you have a business, if you have two problems, you are done.

Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint. Burning yourself out won’t help the longevity of the business,

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

OneSkin will be at the frontier of the companies building preventative therapies to extend our health and maintain our vitality. We need to start treating ourselves in a more proactive way instead of relying on solutions that are reactive, when it may be too late.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women are questioned by their ability to lead profound changes while men are considered audacious and bold.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

The book — A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. It brings an important revelation on how our ego is behind most conflicts and that by being present and aware of it, you can recover your consciousness and make rational, righteous decisions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement I want to inspire is to invite everyone to build a future where aging does not mean any limitation to do things we love doing, but rather more years to enjoy a joyful and fulfilling life. If we all believe this is possible, and start to educate ourselves, change our habits and help each other along the way, we are already building the movement.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Rocky Balboa

When my father passed almost unexpectedly, it was like life had just punched me in the face and I had no strength to get up and keep fighting. Then you learn that life won’t get much easier, but we need to build the foundation and resilience that will get us through those hard times.

How can our readers follow you online?


IG: @caroll_reis

Female Disruptors: Dr Carolina Reis Oliveira of OneSkin On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Yo was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.