The gap in access: how this startup is providing dermatology to everyone (well, almost)

As Curology turns 5, we reflect on why we’re here: for you.

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Curology Team
Mar 30, 2019 · 5 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Listening to real people, with an authentic desire to help solve their problems, has informed Curology’s entire business strategy from the beginning. In fact, it all started with Curology co-founder Dr. David Lortscher listening to his patients. Back when David was practicing dermatology in Albuquerque, New Mexico back in 2013, many of his patients had to drive for hours from rural areas to get care. There was such a high demand for care, he had a three-month waiting list!

Even worse, once his patients got to see him, they’d often be charged ridiculous amounts of money just to fill the prescriptions he’d given them to help with their skin conditions. Unfortunately, even though skin issues like acne are technically medical conditions, many insurance companies don’t cover the medicated treatments that are most effective. A desire to help people solve these problems is what led David to found Curology with his tech-savvy brother Glenn (who built the Curology online platform from the ground up!) and their mom, Dr. Nancy Satur (dermatology runs in the family!).

Photo of Glenn Lortscher, Nancy Satur, and David Lortscher circa 1998

Left to right: Glenn Lortscher, Nancy Satur, and David Lortscher circa 1998

“I’m so proud of how far we’ve come with every member of our team in all departments,” Dr. Satur says. “I am blessed to be such an integral part of this endeavor — working with my sons is the best! I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to work professionally with one of my sons, much less two.”

Read more on Curology’s founding story here.

We believe skincare should be accessible, affordable, convenient, and customized to work for each person’s unique skin type and condition. That’s why, five years ago, we set out to change things. Today, we’re proud to provide access to dermatological care at a fraction of the usual cost to hundreds of thousands of Curology members around the country.

Curology bottles on purple tile

As Curology turns 5 years old, we’re proud to be providing affordable, convenient dermatological care to tens of thousands of patients across the U.S.A. And we’re looking forward to much, much more meaningful work ahead of us. “I think in another 5 years, Curology will be more than 10 times bigger than it is today,” David says, “and it will still be personalized.”

#startupproblems

We think Curology is pretty unique, as far as startups go. For one thing, we overlap in a few different categories: technology, medical care, education, and community engagement (including our blog, guides, and social presence to provide support and education for everyone).

Woman holding curology bottles

Instagram user and Curology community member @femaeoley

Most startups pivot somewhere along the way, but our vision was so clear from the beginning that we’ve focused on and remained true to it ever since. Our focus from the start has been to keep prices as low as possible for Curology members, and this has also been our biggest challenge. Many people didn’t believe that we’d be able to survive at a $20 price point given that we’re offering not only a custom medication, but also an actual medical consultation. Not only that, but we choose each ingredient with care. Each person’s custom blend of ingredients has to be (1) the most effective combination of ingredients for their skin type, and (2) something they will enjoy putting on their skin! With the launch of the Curology set last year — including our gentle cleanser and lightweight, deeply hydrating moisturizer — we’ve progressed toward offering even more accessible, affordable, derm-approved skincare solutions to our members. It’s taken a lot of elbow grease, but we’ve managed not only to survive but to thrive.

Nancy Satur and Curology dermatology providers

A few of your friendly Curology dermatology providers ❤

As the early pioneers of what has recently turned into a custom skincare trend, it’s really validating to see emerging brands shifting into this space. After all, the point (for us, anyway) is to provide care for as many people as possible. But people should make sure to understand what they’re getting, because personalization can be based on real human consultations or it can be based on an algorithm. Curology offers one-on-one care with real people (no algorithms, AI, or robots in lab coats here!) to provide a custom prescription formula for each member.

Our teams in San Francisco and San Diego have grown exponentially over the last five years, and we’re continuing to grow to meet demand! While certain states have regulations that make it difficult for patients to receive care via telehealth, we’re now available in 35 states. Find out if Curology is available in your state here.

Closeup of woman smiling with the number five / 5

Thanks for 5 great years (and counting!)

If you’re new to Curology, we hope you’ll join us on this journey to bridge the gap in affordable access to dermatology care across the country. It’s no small feat, but it’s what we believe in — and we do it all for you. ❤

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