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

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.

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