UT Junior Helps Best Friend Develop Sunscreen Supplement

Published: Feb 18, 2013
Jonathan Brailsford ’14 said his advice to other entrepreneurs is to overcome the fear of risk.
Jonathan Brailsford ’14 said his advice to other entrepreneurs is to overcome the fear of risk.

Last summer, Jonathan Brailsford ’14 and his best friend James Dean were hanging out at home in Long Island, NY, floating in the pool — wearing sunscreen — when the two hatched a business idea.

Dean, a junior business major at New York University, wondered if they could create an ingestible supplement to aid in the skin’s protection from the sun.

Before going to NYU, Dean trained to play professional tennis at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton where he was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on his hand.

Since then he has found it a challenge to protect himself from the sun. For an athlete, reapplying sunscreen every couple of hours isn’t always practical.

Dean researched different herbs used around the world and consulted with nutritionists and doctors before approaching a chemist at his university to see if his concoction could be made into a pill. He also enlisted the help of NYU sophomore William Smithline.

Less than one year later with a launch date Feb. 18, the trio of students have created Sunergetic, an oral supplement made with natural ingredients that Dean said protects skin from the sun's harmful UV rays, supports skin health and promotes energy. According to the Mayo Clinic, herbal supplements are regulated by the FDA, but manufacturers don’t need to seek FDA approval before putting dietary supplements on the market.

“The hardest part of starting a business is overcoming fear,” Dean said. “Everyone has brilliant ideas, but it is difficult to realize how amazing those ideas are when you are confronted by fear. The only way to overcome that is to take action.”

Brailsford said Dean is very outgoing and will talk to anyone. This trait helped build their business network, which now includes venture capitalists, angel investors, pharmaceutical companies, professional athletes and academia.

“It’s all happened so fast,” said Brailsford, an entrepreneurship major who used one of his courses to come up with a marketing plan for Sunergetic. The feedback from his classmates provided useful information in terms of targeting his market.

“We’re both leaders of the pack but when it comes to the two of us, we work well together,” said Brailsford, who has known Dean since the second grade.

Brailsford said the supplement is meant to complement the use of sunscreen and provide added protection between applications, although it may also appeal to those who don’t apply a daily sunscreen.

Brailsford’s advice for other entrepreneurs eager to get started is to network, play to their strengths and not be afraid of risk.

“Of course, all of these things sound a little cliché, however Sunergetic is proof of their truth,” he said. “It was the connections with professors that enabled us to professionally formulate Sunergetic and connect us with prominent figures in the business world.

“We play to our strengths in that while it is a natural urge for a person to want to be the ‘leader’ or in control, I am not afraid to take a back seat to my business partner and best friend, and we both know when to step back and let the other do their thing,” Brailsford said. “Finally, being afraid to fail stunts your will to act even though you may have a great idea that can really help someone.”


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