Student refines skin-care product plan to win business design competition

Refine for Men gives gents that extra layer of confidence

Refine makeup for men
Edgar Osorio exhibits Refine for Men, his product that won the 2012 Business Design Competition at UC Santa Cruz. (Photos by Elena Zhukova)
Edgar Osorio
Osorio, who will start his junior year in the fall, practices his presentation watched by Mary Flannery, advisor and lecturer with the Center for Entrepreneurship, center, and Keliah Reyes, a member of his team.

The winning team includes, back row from left, Victor Figueroa, Keilah Reyes, and Osorio, along with advisor Mary Flannery. Front row, Emily Fleming, Eric Silva, Cameron Dyson. Not pictured, George Lecee and Glen Smith.

Winner of the 2012 Business Design Competition at UC Santa Cruz is "Refine for Men," a complexion enhancer that was a runner up last year.

This time around, 20-year-old Edgar Osorio, a business management economics major, brought aboard some collaborators, refined his product, brand, and marketing plan to win the grand prize and $10,000.

Don't call it make up, Refine is a "simple foundation," said Osorio, explaining that his market research shows young men would buy a product to conceal imperfections and enhance their complexion.

Osorio's team won best research and best presentation in addition to the grand prize. Five teams competed in a final judging session last month from an initial field of 125 students who began in January.

Students met every Tuesday night and worked with Dan Heller (College 8, 1985, computer and information sciences), founder and executive director of the Center for Entrepre- neurship (C4E), a cross-disciplinary program with UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering and economics department.

"No doubt he'll be successful," said Mary Flannery, a lecturer in the entrepre- neurship program. "He has that work ethic that's so inspirational."

Osorio explained that Refine grew out of his own teen-aged skin problems. He tried make up in high school to cover up flaws but was embarrassed to buy it in department stores. He said he couldn't use his mom's because their skin tones are different.

"It occurred to me I should make a men's line," he said. "Nothing too flashy, no sparkles or eyeliner." His intended customer is a young man for whom "appearances are vital to your success. Why not look your best?"

Osorio is no stranger to entrepreneurship. While in high school in Alhambra, Ca., he opened Club Z, a night club for teens "where they would be safe from drugs and alcohol."
The club was successful and Osorio reinvested his profits into his new venture.

Osorio joined the C4E program two years ago as a freshman. He thanked Heller and C4E for his success on his second try. "I feel like I'm a better learner, I see things from a different perspective," he said.

Since winning the business design competition, Osorio has been further refining his product and hopes to launch it later this month or in early August. He's planning events where potential customers can "touch the product, feel the product, wear the product." He's also talking to potential investors.

Osorio is spending the summer with his family in southern California before resuming studies as a junior at UCSC in the fall. As if launching a new cosmetic line was not enough, he's also taking classes at a local community college and working at a neighborhood CVS drug store.

The Business Design Competition began in January with 125 students. Other finalists were:
•    Arcule – an android-based smart watch
•    Foresight – stereographic augmented reality headset housing for smart phones
•    QTA – Quickstart Tennis Academy, a non-profit for teaching tennis to underserved communities
•    Skyography – aerial-imaging data aggregation

Winners were:
•    Most innovative idea – Skyography
•    Best research/team – Refine
•    Best presentation – Refine
•    Greatest  potential – Foresight
•    Grand prize winner – Refine

Prize money was provided by the Startup Lab, a non-profit startup incubator whose mission is to help promote and sponsor entrepreneurship in academics.