“I Want The Beauty Industry To Associate MADE IN KOREA With Koru Pharma”

Roman Vernidub, the CEO of Koru Pharma, plans to expand the manufacturing capacity of the company’s factory to 3 million syringes by the end of 2025 and reach a revenue of 70 billion won. 

Koru Pharma is expanding sales markets in over 100 countries around the world and extending their line to include products like HA fillers, hair filler, skin booster and more. 

[MEDIPANA NEWS = Reporter Kim Seon] The word “koru” in Koru Pharma means “fern” in the language of the Maori people from New Zealand and Australia. The plant is a symbol of a new life, a new beginning. 

The CEO of Koru Pharma, Roman Vernidub is a descendant of a Jewish family, who was born in Ukraine and grew up in Russia. 

Roman Vernidub first visited South Korea in 2008 at a time when Korean products, Korean food, Korean automobiles, started being exported to Russia, but he felt that he did not know too much about Korea at that point. Following his visit, Roman became interested in South Korea and that same year, he came went Kyungpook National University as an exchange student and began his life in Korea.

His plan was to stay in South Korea as an exchange student for 1 year at first, but as he gained more interest in Korea, he continued his studies by entering the masters program of Sogang University in 2010, graduated in 2014 and finalised his studies with a doctoral degree in 2016. 

At first Roman considered working at the embassy, an international organisation or pursuing a career as a professor or a researcher, but as he learned more about the business world, while living in Korea and translating for Russian businessmen as a part-timer, he became interested in opening a business and in 2016 he founded Koru Pharma. 

Roman Vernidub pointed out the following reason for choosing “fillers” as the company’s main products: “I heard from friends researching cosmetics and aesthetics, that this field had a great potential in South Korea and was currently developing, but it hadn’t been introduced to many foreign markets. That is how I became interested in the beauty industry, and at first I thought about working with cosmetics, but cosmetics were already being exported to Russia in big quantities and due to the saturation of the market, developing cosmetics had no technological value. Therefore I chose the business with fillers, since fillers require a special technology, and have a high entry barrier on the market.”

A filler with no cross-linking agent is “a filler with no side effects”.

Koru Pharma has signed a contract with Nexgel Biotech Co., Ltd. for a collaboration on a technique for fillers with no cross-linking agent. 

The existing hyaluronic acid fillers have an excellent biodegradability and low toxicity, but since they use a chemical cross-linking agent (BDDE) in the manufacturing process, the danger of cytotoxicity always exists. That is why after the procedure there can be side effects such as allergies or swelling. 

Another benefit is that, unlike synthetic polymer based fillers, the non-cross linked fillers in development would have the ability to promote tissue build up. Koru Pharma is currently researching into a next generation of fillers with no cross-linking agent. 

The next generation non-cross-linked fillers would overcome the problem of biodegradability of the existing synthetic polymer fillers, and unlike cross-linked fillers, it would promote tissue build up.The non-cross linked fillers would also require a smaller number of procedures compared to the existing cross-linked ones. 

The company is also planning to expand its factory and dedicate a larger part for filler production. 

The current capacity of the factory is 1.5 million syringes and won’t expand right now, but later in the future, following the launch of a hair booster, mesotherapy and other new products, and receiving CE certification in 2025, the factory capacity will expand to 3 million syringes as the product demand is expected to increase. 

Koru Pharma is expected to generate a revenue of 70 billion won when its factory is working at the full capacity of 3 million syringes.

A part of the factory is planned to produce fillers, while the remaining part will be used to produce new cosmetic or aesthetic products. In relation to that, the company is actively researching products from the beauty industry.

Hair booster, “challenging” the aesthetic market

Koru Pharma is planning to expand its current filler collection, including its HA filler and a hair booster preventing hair loss. The medium and long-term goal of the company is to manufacture beauty medical devices, but after going public it is planning to expand to the “Healthcare & Beauty” sector. 

Currently, the company is producing professional medical aesthetic products used in beauty and plastic surgery clinics. 

One of the main products is an HA filler for the improvement of wrinkles and restoration of volume loss, which when injected in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, without pharmacological action, restores the volume using physical restoration. 

Except for the hyaluronic acid filler, the company’s hair booster and skin boosters are also HA-based, and the hair booster aids in preventing hair loss with a peptide complex added to the hyaluronic acid to improve the scalp condition. 

The hair booster should be applied 2 times each month, or 12 times over 6 months. 

The product effectively combats the main reasons of hair loss, improving the blood circulation of the scalp, helping dry scalp, protects the scalp from external stress, and contains nourishing ingredients to promote the collagen production and prevent hair breakage while continuously improving the condition of the hair.  

After its foundation, the company started developing face, body and hair fillers, received a licence for the export of medical devices from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and began selling them abroad. The company has increased its revenue in 2020 to 10 billion won through a diversification of its sales channels, in 2021 to 18 billion won, and the revenue from 2022 is expected to be 30 billion won. 

Local distribution – 0%, what is the status overseas and will products be released locally?

From the very beginning Koru Pharma has built good relationships with overseas buyers, to work as partners and help each other. 

Both the sales and the marketing teams all consist of foreigners and they maintain close relationships with the buyers, and as a result of their efforts the company is currently trading directly with more than 100 countries. 

Koru Pharma easily understands the trends in the overseas markets using information sharing between the buyers and the managers. The company also attends international exhibitions every month and visits South America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe to meet buyers and research the local market needs. 

The gathered information is then used in the laboratory to conduct research on product development. 

In addition, at these exhibitions, the company participates in seminars with local buyers, which is a chance to network with product experts and introduce the products, explain the method of using them and promote their effects, and contracts have been established following these promotion efforts.

Roman Vernidub also commented that: “Contrary to other local companies, Koru Pharma has kept local distribution at 0%, but expanded its sales channels in 100 countries all over the world. Different from the local distribution, the company has maintained a high margin and sales profit by selling directly abroad. Every year the company attends exhibitions and seminars in over 15 countries and it is actively expanding with its sales and marketing”.

“We are offering the same high quality fillers as major manufacturers from the United States, Europe and Central and South America, and while keeping premium quality, we also maintain competitive prices” – he added. 

“The local market is already a “red ocean”, preoccupied by large companies and investing in it is less effective, there is no plan to launch products locally, but a permission for local sales could be received if needed” – he concluded.

This year’s goal is an IPO, what is the long-term plan?

The CEO Roman Vernidub said that: “The listing of the company on KOSDAQ is the most important and fundamental goal of the company’s long-term growth strategy”.

Based on a successful capital acquisition through the listing, Koru Pharma plans to use the funds to develop next generation fillers and new products, to expand its manufacturing facilities, and by increasing its international certifications and marketing efforts, to actively grow its influence on overseas markets. 

In order to simplify its operational structure, the company plans to increase its global presence, starting with major regions in Europe, China and the United States. 

The company expects to increase its sales abroad by receiving a national certification for each country and CE (European certification for medical devices) by the end of 2025. 

Roman Vernidub said:”I want to make a top class company in the beauty industry.”, and emphasised that: “When someone abroad thinks about products ”MADE IN KOREA”, I’d like them to think about Koru Pharma’s products”.

He also added: “It’s my personal goal, but I would like for South Korea to become a role model country, a global land, where people who start off as students have a chance to build their own businesses and succeed much like Singapore and the United States”.

Original article published on Medipana