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This startup founded by two NHS doctors positions itself to be the sheriff that cleans up the skincare Wild West

SafeAP founders Dr Sieuming Ng and Dr Subha Punj
Image credit: SafeAP

Safe AP, or The Safe Aesthetic Practitioner, has secured £250,000 in pre-seed funding in a round lead by Jenson Funding Partners. The platform, developed by two NHS doctors, helps patients find qualified aesthetic practitioners, while giving those practitioners a secure platform to manage their clients.

Surprisingly, the injectable skincare industry, despite its increasing popularity, is largely unregulated in the UK. This is all the more surprising since the routines, which include Botulinum Toxin injections (better known as Botox), hyaluronic acid injections, and lip fillers, can have severe adverse effects if not done properly.

Although the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee has recommended a licensing regime, until that is implemented it means that finding reputable practitioners can be difficult. While recommendations from others can help, many may feel too shy or embarrassed to ask others if they feel a stigma about the skincare issue they are seeking help with.

Helping people avoid a ‘Wild West’ experience

While there are many providers of injectable skincare, the lack of regulation means that clinics, or individual practitioners, may not be operating as safely as they could. Jenson Funding Partners’ CEO Sarah Barber noted this was part of the motivation behind their funding, “it was surpassing to hear that the industry remains something of a ‘Wild West’ given the prevalence of aesthetics procedures,” she said. “SafeAP is changing the game for non-surgical aesthetics procedures by providing a platform that enables patients to find qualified and vetted practitioners at an affordable price.”

SafeAP was founded by two NHS doctors, Dr Subha Punj and Dr Sieuming Ng. Working with patients, they had seen first-hand the skin confidence issues that lead to many using aesthetic procedures, but they had also seen the consequences when those procedures were not carried out correctly. Combined with their understanding of what a clinical practitioner needs from their management system, they developed SafeAP.

The platform acts as a marketplace. Practitioners are vetted before being allowed to join. Patients can then search in confidence, looking for the procedures they want, and book appointments, all within the marketplace. And they will be able to make an informed decision knowing that the practitioner has had all the relevant training.

For practitioners, the software manages every part of the patient journey, from communication to patient notes, it will even manage e-consultations if needed. And, because some practitioners only offer aesthetic treatments infrequently, the platform is priced on a pay-as-you-use basis, ensuring that patient choice is not compromised by hefty licensing fees.

Co-founder Dr Sieuming Ng answered TFN’s questions about how the platform was developed, securing their funding and what the future holds.

What was your professional background before founding SafeAP?

Subha and I are both NHS medical doctors. I’m an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery specialty registrar and an aesthetic practitioner, while Subha was previously a surgical doctor who is now focusing solely on SafeAP.

What is SafeAP? How does the technology work? And who will use it the most?

The Safe Aesthetic Practitioner (SafeAP) is a non-surgical aesthetic marketplace, disrupting the poorly regulated industry. It aims to improve safety by connecting clients to only qualified healthcare aesthetic practitioners (doctors, dentists, and nurses). As a dual platform, SafeAP allows clients to search, book and pay for their non-surgical aesthetic treatments. Whilst SafeAP Partner is a clinic software catered towards aesthetic practitioners to empower them to take charge and grow their business. Both SafeAP and SafeAP Partner are available for download on the App Store and Google Play.

How did you meet your co-founder?

Subha and I are originally from Malaysia, and we met in medical school at the University of Nottingham in 2007. Our surgical career pursuits separated us from Nottingham, but we remained close friends. It was over a decade later that we both came to a career crossroads and realised that we both share a passion for the non-surgical aesthetic industry, with Subha as a client, and myself as an aesthetic practitioner. The both of us encountered our own issues within the industry, which is what led us to developing SafeAP, a platform that empowers both the practitioner and the client to take control of their own non-surgical aesthetic journeys.

Who are your competitors? And how are you different from them?

There are other platforms that allow clients to search for aesthetic practitioners such as Treatwell, Ruuby, and Glowday. However, SafeAP is the only marketplace that is founded and led by medical doctors who understand the non-surgical aesthetic industry. SafeAP is a dual platform B2B (SafeAP Partner) and B2C (SafeAP) therefore benefitting both aesthetic practitioners and clients. SafeAP Partner is the first pay-as-you-go aesthetic clinic software in the UK. Having only qualified aesthetic practitioners who are healthcare professionals (doctors/dentists/nurses) ensures that practitioners are held accountable for the treatments they provide.

What was the process of securing £250,000 from Jenson Funding Partners?

We’d be lying if we said this has been a breeze, as we have had our fair share of rejections! However, this all started with an email we had sent to Jenson Funding Partners with our pitch deck and led to us being invited for an initial meeting. This was followed up with three further meetings, which eventually led to an offer. We could not have been happier, as we feel that Jenson shares the same vision and passion for SafeAP. We have always believed in the potential of SafeAP and are really glad that Jenson is now on this journey with us.

What are your goals and mission for SafeAP in 2023 and beyond?

SafeAP’s vision is to be the go-to non-surgical aesthetic hub. Our mission is to provide a reliable platform for non-surgical aesthetic treatments by connecting clients with qualified healthcare practitioners.

SafeAP’s goals are to raise awareness of the poorly regulated non-surgical aesthetic industry, provide a platform for a safer delivery of non-surgical aesthetic procedures by ensuring practitioners are only healthcare professionals, challenge social stigma associated with non-surgical aesthetic treatments, and empower skin confidence and challenge the way the beauty industry defines beauty.

Beauty e-commerce is moving towards natural, clean and transparent beauty. Having good skin is in, and this is where the non-surgical aesthetic industry plays a huge role. The archaic notion that non-surgical aesthetic procedures are only used to define your features or to treat your wrinkles are out. With treatments focused on helping with hyperpigmentation, skin rejuvenation and even scarring amongst others, the non-surgical aesthetic industry promotes skin health.

The other trend that we’re seeing is personalised skin care. The beauty industry has now realised that the one-size-fits-all theory does not work. This has always been the case within the non-surgical aesthetic industry. Treatments have always been tailored and personalised to each individual, hence sometimes it comes at a price. Therefore, it is very important in choosing a practitioner who understands this and is able to manage your treatment journey with you.

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