When Tom Seery graduated from the Foster School with his MBA in 2000, he went to Expedia, a Microsoft spin-out that was growing by leaps and bounds. The entrepreneurial Seery knew that he’d start his own company within a few years, but even he was surprised by the source of his inspiration—he launched RealSelf.com in 2006 based on an observation made by his wife Krista. As she noted, it was far easier to use the web to research consumer opinion on hotels, electronics or restaurants than it was to get real insights into far more costly and potentially risky purchases of discretionary cosmetic procedures like laser skin treatments.
Since launching and receiving the backing by prominent Seattle and Bay Area angels, including Second Avenue Partners and Rich Barton (Zillow, Benchmark Capital), RealSelf has emerged into a category leader, helping millions of consumers get peer opinions and expert medical information on nearly 300 cosmetic procedures, everything from Botox to Invisalign braces to Mommy Makeovers.
Despite the down economy, 2009 was a particularly successful year for the RealSelf team. The community received over 50,000 answers posted by a national network of board certified medical specialists. These doctors “got social” by responding to consumer questions, uploading thousands of images and tweeting out their postings to followers. RealSelf also launched an industry-first “Worth It Index,” ranking cosmetic procedures according to actual patient input on whether a treatment was worth the results.
The company is looking forward to another year of growth , which Seery says will be driven in great part by “helping consumers find good doctors, and creating enhanced tools for consumers to navigate the always-popular before and after photo galleries.” [If you’ve had any cosmetic treatment, whether it be Lasik or Laser resurfacing or Latisse eyelash lengthening, RealSelf would love to hear about your experience!]