Blood, previously known as PSLove, is a new age consumer brand for female essentials. Their products are sold in over 5 countries across Asia and they aim to help all who are affected by periods in ways both great and small.
In this month’s startup conversation, we caught up with the founders, Peck Ying, and Caleb on their story of building the company and their move to rebrand it to Blood. Read on to find out more!
Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it? Is there a story behind it?
Caleb: It was a personal problem that Peck faced when we dived into conceptualising our flagship product, MenstruHeat. She had been experiencing severe cramps since her university days and always “tahan-ed” it because she didn’t want to rely on drugs or pink pills.
One time, while travelling in Taiwan, I chanced upon an electrical heating device that I thought could possibly help her. She used it and to her amazement, found out that the heat was very effective in helping her relieve her pains; but the device was bulky, not portable and the temperature quickly cooled after a while. That sparked off our interest in creating MenstruHeat, and the rest is history.
What makes you rebrand to Blood? How is it different from PSLove? Is there a new focus to it?
At the end of the day, we’re still the same at heart, striving daily to serve the people who depend on our products to give them a leg up in their most trying times. Blood helps to crystalize what we stand for, and better delight everyone who bleeds.
The feminine care industry is an industry that is seldom spoken of, what were some of your biggest challenges when you first start out to do this and how did you overcome them?
Peck: When we first started out, many felt that the market was niche despite women being ~50% of the population (back then there were a lot fewer companies that looked at improving the female space). We stuck with our guts seeing this as an opportunity. I think our passion and persistence “moved” the retailers and we managed to get our 1st big break by listing MenstruHeat into stores.
Caleb: I had to learn intensely about periods and products (more than Peck since I can’t personally experience it).
You have a whole range of heat-emitting products, how did you come up with the product concept? Was it difficult to start production and garner sales? What are some upcoming products that consumers can look forward to?
Peck: Our focus is really on women, and creating products that can help them to have more possibilities, especially when they go through their periods every month. Heat was an elegant solution to the problems women faced so we dived deeply into it to ensure we designed a product that works superbly and “just gets it”.
We started off with absolutely zero experience in production and sales (in consumer products) so yes, it was a lot of trial and error, learning from mistakes, always questioning how we can do better and many times just simply moving fast and breaking things so we get things going. I always tell people that I’m not a “physical products” person. In fact, I love data, trends, and numbers a lot more. But it’s amazing how the journey turned out when you fix your eyes on the mission and not the solution.
We’re launching an Asian-sized menstrual cup with an industry-first 120-days risk-free trial; this will be the best way for women in the region to discover a different way to experience their period, especially if they would like to possibly “feel nothing” while bleeding.
Have both of your personal values impacted the current values of your organization?
Peck: I think the founder’s values set the foundation on which the team is built, but as we have more diverse individuals joining the team, we learn to evolve and build a culture/set of values that is unique to the entire team (and not just about the founders).
As a couple-founder team, what are some of the memorable experiences of working on a startup together? What are some benefits of working together? Did you face any challenges?
Peck: It wasn’t an easy journey trying to understand how to communicate with each other in a professional setting and drawing the line between work and personal. I remembered when we had our first hire, she had to sit through our many debates in the office. We learned, of course, and after many years of working together, we’ve figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to complement each other (I’m pretty sure non-couple founding teams also have a similar learning phase). We’ve learned how to agree to disagree and most importantly, not bring work disagreements into our personal lives.
I’m an advocate of “couple founding team” being possible and it can bring a lot of practical benefits if the couple is able to work things out (but a caveat: it is not for everyone!).
Fundamentally the trust and openness is there – which I feel is super important as the journey is filled with tough and complex decision making processes. Having someone to bounce off spontaneous thoughts, concerns, and knowing the other party is giving genuine objective feedback is priceless.
Caleb: Getting our very first product out the door was memorable. Was unique to experience many firsts, first customer, first $100 in revenue, etc. Working together took time to figure out, once we were able to split focus areas for each of us to specialize then things became easier. I guess one benefit is we don’t have “how’s your day” conversations since we’re already in each other’s work life.
You raised a round with AngelCentral amidst COVID-19, how was your experience like when you were fundraising for that round?
Caleb: Fundraising is almost always a long and arduous process, pandemic or not, and regardless of how it’s often portrayed and celebrated. Was fun raising from AngelCentral because most of the angels are entrepreneurs and operators so they “get me”. There’s a shifting dynamic and more founders (myself included) are talking to more SFOs, MFOs, syndicates, and venture debt as options for capital. It doesn’t make fundraising easier per se, but the conversation is very different (as compared when talking to “trad VC”).
Note to fellow founders just starting to fundraise: I’ve learned a truck-load about fundraising from reading and following Mark Suster, Scott Kupor, and Oren Klaff (I’m a huge fan).
COVID-19 has affected everyone, what did you do to mitigate its effect and seek opportunities from it? How successful were your efforts?
Peck: When COVID struck, we knew that our priorities were the team and survival. So we started evaluating our resources, strengths as a company, and which levers we could pull to help us mitigate potential impact, bolster cash-flows, and plan for long-term growth.
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