Disrupting a Very Old Market with Cora Co-Founder Molly Hayward

Disrupting a Very Old Market with Cora Co-Founder Molly Hayward
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The Nitty Gritty:

  • When there is a need and an opportunity for a better product, you should not be deterred by the magnitude of the industry you’re going up against
  • How to go about entering an old market with a new product
  • Why strong customer service, including a free trial program, and flexibility with the subscription system is crucial to Cora’s success

Molly Hayward, co-founder of Cora, a premium organic tampon company that provides a month’s supply of pads to women in need for every month’s supply of tampons purchased, is my guest this week on the Profit. Power. Pursuit podcast. During our inspiring conversation, we talk about the genesis of Cora, disrupting the traditional market of women’s period products and how exemplary customer service has been crucial to their success. There is so much value in this conversation, I hope you tune in!

Disrupting a Traditional Market

I was aware, but undeterred by the magnitude of the industry that was I was going up against.

— Molly Hayward

The concept of creating a premium organic tampon for women that would also help women in need around the world better manage their periods, first came to Molly when she was on a humanitarian trip to Kenya with a non-profit organization. On the trip, she noticed that some of the girls would go missing from school and when she inquired about their whereabouts she found out they stayed home when they had their periods because they didn’t have products to manage it in public. It was a lightbulb moment.

Molly starting thinking about other companies in other industries such as Toms or Warby Parker that were successful with the one-for-one model and felt there was an opportunity to connect the purchases women in America make every month and supply women in need at the same time. Sustainability and organic products were also important to Molly, but she realized that there was no one in this space that was offering products that met her standards. She set out to design a better-for-you and better-designed product than what was offered by the traditional companies in the industry who were fearful of change.

I was so convinced that there was an opportunity here and a need for a better product experience for both women here and women in developing countries so I forged ahead and started.

— Molly Hayward

What It Takes to Change a Longstanding Industry

And so as I began to dig into the industry and look at what it would take to offer a better product to women here.

— Molly Hayward

When Molly came back home, she started research. She began to dig into the industry to look at what it would take to offer a better product to women here. First, she realized there was not a brand that represented all the values of most modern women today. Once she determined that she wanted to offer an organic product, she had to find a manufacturing facility that could do what they wanted. That translated into more research time on Google and factory visits. Molly and her team floated the idea of the one-for-one model to a lot of different people and questioned if people would accept it or just roll their eyes. Had it been overdone? Would the market react to it?

Molly’s instinct was this product category, maybe more than any other type of product category, would hit a personal chord with women. We have all had the experience by our own error of not having a product when we needed it. And, it’s a crisis. Imagine going through that every single month and have it derail your life.

Customer Onboarding and Exemplary Customer Service

Giving women options and the ability to customize their orders was a big piece of what was integrated into our model within the subscription.

— Molly Hayward

Since most women have treated their periods reactively, the Cora team built flexibility into their subscription model so that women could alter the products they receive without any weird friction or penalties as they learn more about how much and what types of products they need or as their bodies change. They also implemented a free trial program that has been crucial for getting women comfortable with testing out a new product. Perhaps the most important element underlying it all is Cora’s exemplary customer service where customers can email, text or call in to get support.

Listen to the Full Episode

There is so much more to experience with the full episode, including the reasons why the design of the product and packaging was super important to the Cora team, how customers are responding favorably to Cora’s social mission and what’s next for the business.

I invite you to join me every week to hear the honest truth directly from entrepreneurs who are in the trenches building businesses. You learn the nitty-gritty details about HOW these entrepreneurs develop their business ideas, build teams, manage their time and more. By subscribing on iTunes  you will never miss a single episode.

The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

The Power of Dedicated Social Networks with Mighty Networks Founder Gina Bianchini

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The Nitty Gritty:

  • Why it’s time to disrupt our existing social networks
  • How we can create a better future when we connect individuals who share a common identity or interest
  • Why there’s room for the old social networks and new interest-driven social networks; entrepreneurs can leverage them both

While we may not have a crystal ball to predict the future transformation of social networks, we have Gina Bianchini as our guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast, and she has some amazing thoughts about how social networks must evolve. Gina is the founder and CEO of Mighty Networks, a company that facilitates the creation of dedicated communities around an identity or interest, and founder and former CEO of Ning.

Existing social networks served a purpose but we have outgrown them

There’s just no substitute for people who are on your same path.

– Gina Bianchini

When Facebook started 11 years ago, it set out to help you consume information from people you already knew—former colleagues, college roomies, extended family members, high school and elementary school classmates. And, it did its job splendidly. Today, there are 2 billion people who are connected in ways they weren’t previously.

But, as Gina describes in the podcast, Facebook doesn’t support finding, meeting and breaking the ice with people who are on the same path as you—whether that path is a career or entrepreneurship, an illness, parenthood or more—via a newsfeed that whizzes by and gives no context for the updates that you see. Dedicated social networks solve that issue.

Small (with the ability to scale) is the next big thing

The people who don’t already know each other is the next chapter in how the world is going to create new relationships and a better future.

– Gina Bianchini

So, is small the next big thing? Tune in to the podcast to hear Gina’s full explanation, but the reality is that it doesn’t take a lot of people to make you feel like you’re in it together. At the same time, being in it together should be able to scale to larger numbers.

You can connect with people who are at the same stage as you (there’s a reason there’s a freshmen orientation), in the same region as you are and as the network grows you can meet more and more people that are just like you. An interest-driven network should focus on all the kinds of relationships that very naturally mirror the perfect environments of the real world.

So, it’s not really a matter of small versus large. What Gina loves about small though is that it feels attainable. Anyone can create a network based on an interest that then can create these really phenomenal moments and spark incredible relationships that don’t require millions, thousands or hundreds of people. It just requires a handful of people that care about each other.

How to use dedicated networks to grow your business

Think of your traditional social networks as your marketing (or the front of the house), while a dedicated network is the “back of the house” where you trade shop talk with like-minded people. A dedicated network doesn’t have to compete daily with hundreds or thousands of posts on divergent topics and issues and viral sensations.

When you try to use Facebook for everything in your business is where it falls down and where interest networks can really step up.

– Gina Bianchini

There are plenty of useful nuggets in the full episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit. about the notion that interests bring us together, the power of dedicated social networks to enhance your life and your business success and the critical role word-of-mouth advertising is even for a venture capital-funded business such as Mighty Networks. Gina also shares what’s on the horizon for dedicated social networks—videos, smarter software (that can actually ORGANIZE events for the network) and revenue features to make the networks even more powerful.

All you need to do is to subscribe to Profit. Power. Pursuit. on iTunes so you access all episodes of our award-winning podcast with the best entrepreneurs of the 21st century.