Kasper Kubica and David Spratte were undergrads at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill, respectively, when they met, not on the basketball court but at a cross-campus program. It didn’t take long for them to realize they both were afflicted with hyperhidrosis, a malady that had plagued each of them for years.
“In high school, when we attended Mass I did everything to wipe the sweat away,” said Spratte, recalling how the Sign of Peace during his school’s religious services, became an act of desperation. “I’d wipe my hands on my pants…on the Missal…it was the worst.”
It was bad enough for Spratte to seek advice and a solution from dermatologists and chemists while still in high school.
“There are 100s for underarms, but nothing for your hands,” he noted, even though experts estimate that hyperhidrosis affects nearly 5% of the US population and some have suggested that even as many as 12-20% of Americans may be affected. Experts say hyperhidrosis is even more common among teens, with 1 in 5 experiencing excessive and uncontrollable sweating. No surprise, then, that 75% of those afflicted say hyperhidrosis impacts their daily life.
When Spratte arrived at UNC, he also met Chris Jenks, a chemistry major, and the trio began developing formulas, all the while talking to dermatologists, contract manufacturers and testing labs to make sure they were on the right track.
“It wasn’t easy,” recalled Spratte. “The formula had to comfortable, non-irritating, non-greasy and highly effective.”
After more than a year of development and 60 prototypes, they came up with Carpe, a patented formula with 15% aluminum sesquichlorohydrate.
Spratte and Kubica tested their creation around campus before putting it through a 20-subject clinical trial. According to Spratte, Carpe works where other treatments, such as Botox injections and iontophoresis, fail.
“Many people told us that nothing worked for them until they tried Carpe,” recalled Spratte. “And at $14.95, it’s a lot more accessible than Botox injections.”
Investors certainly like the idea. Thanks to the efforts of investor angels made up of Duke and UNC alumni, Carpe received $2.3 million in funding last month. The money will go toward expanding the product line and increasing marketing activities.
Most recently, the startup got some experience when former Proactiv CEO Seth Radwell joined the board.
That kind of good news has retailers taking notice. Just this month, Carpe got distribution in CVS; the product is also available online at Amazon and www.carpelotion.com
While Jenks has gone on to med school, Spratte and Kubica are going full-speed ahead with Carpe. The company has 10 full-time employees and three part-timers.
“We’ve grown significantly in the past year; now we have the people in place to achieve our vision for innovation and product development.”
Jenks wouldn’t elaborate on the company’s plans, but he noted that there are a range of sweating problems that need to be solved and there’s plenty of room on the market for effective products. The company is working through several channels, including primary care physicians and dermatologists.
“Our biggest focus is getting Carpe into the hands of those who need it.”