SkinIO CEO Kyoko Crawford Named One of Chicago's 40 Under 40 by Crain's Chicago Business

After running a New York City-based technology development consultancy for more than a decade, Kyoko Crawford started thinking about launching something tangible— a product she could bring to life.

Around the same time in 2014, Northwestern Medicine skin cancer specialist Dr. Jean-Christophe Lapiere told a patient about his idea to remotely monitor high-risk individuals using smartphone cameras. The patient was Crawford’s father-in-law, who introduced the pair shortly thereafter.

“I thought, ‘There’s a there there. This is something that can actually work and matter and impact lives,’” says Crawford, co-founder and CEO of SkinIO. Since launching seven years ago, Crawford and Lapiere, SkinIO’s co-founder and chief medical officer, have worked to make early skin cancer detection more accessible. The business has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic, as dermatologists faced a post-lockdown backlog and demand for virtual care surged.

The dermatology startup now has about 90 customers nationwide, including Cleveland-based MetroHealth System and a Chicago-based airline— among other large employers looking to control health care costs and improve outcomes through skin cancer screening.

“When you look at entrepreneurs, the determination to succeed is what sets apart people who are successful and people who are not,” says Peter Smith, SkinIO board chair and investor. Crawford “has a great work ethic, and she really commits herself to the project and the team,” Smith says. “Everybody sees how determined she is to make things work.”

SkinIO, which has raised more than $6.5 million, counts Citadel’s Ken Griffin and former Walgreens executive Stewart Wasson among its investors.

But raising seed funding to hire an engineering team and build the technology in-house was no easy feat. Crawford was pregnant when she first started pitching investors and didn’t raise a dime until six weeks after her son was born in May 2015.

Crawford, who lives in Bucktown with her husband and two children, is hopeful that the industry is making more space for women and people of color.

“The time for compartmentalizing people is over,” Crawford says. “It’s more about the ‘ands’ in our lives than the ‘ors.’”