Over the weekend, I was burning the midnight oil with a team in the UK over creating awareness for a product we have been labouring on for some time now. A project is never successful until you hand it over to be used by the customer and release the project team. A few of the team members agree with me that we need to gain more traction in terms of pre-orders. In truth, that, for me, is the hallmark of a good product — it’s already paying for itself while the development is going on.
It was in the midst of the brainstorming that I remembered Cindy Belardo and Drew Jarvis and their sensational product. Since 2019, they have been working on a product called Menstrual Mates, which they eventually rebranded as Sunny — a menstrual cup and applicator that inserts like a tampon. If you are a man and don’t know what a tampon is, you are not alone. Few men in the predominantly white and male venture capital industry they pitched their idea to knew what a menstrual cup was.
During menstruation, a tampon is inserted into the vagina to absorb blood and vaginal secretions. Instead of being externally placed like a pad, it is inserted internally into the vaginal canal. A menstrual cup is just like that tampon — a menstrual hygiene device which is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. A menstrual cup is a more eco-friendly alternative that is much easier to insert, safer, and more cost-effective. Sunny cups are re-usable for at least a year.
So, for four years, Belardo, 25, and Jarvis, 23, went from office to office trying to woo investors for their product. But few showed interest. Many didn’t return their calls; others said they were not interested. And there were those who said it wasn’t a good time.
That was until, in April, on a whim, Jarvis released a video demonstrating how to use the product on TikTok. It went viral within the first 24 hours, receiving nearly 50,000 likes and hundreds of comments. But because they were not just interested in vanity metrics, they put up a pre-order page on their website. Within a month, they made $200,000 in pre-order sales. I checked on them before writing this and found out they have crossed the $500,000 mark.
After receiving positive feedback about their product, Belardo and Jarvis reached out to additional investors and even reached back out to the venture capitalists who had previously rejected them. Approximately 90% of the emails they sent out responded with “yes” or “we are interested in discussing further”.
As the lesson dawned on the team, I told them that product launches are tricky, but with the UK having the 12th largest user base on TikTok, I don’t see what we stand to lose. Let’s see how it goes.