Ova Woman on the move
Nine months ago, I distinctly remember sitting across a conference table from Fred and Brian. We were just about to complete the Social Venture Launchpad (SVL) course and I was desperately trying to read their facial expressions. Was my idea any good? Had I made adequate progress? My self-doubt quickly went away as Fred expressed his support for my entrepreneurial journey. We both knew that I had a long, long way to go, but I also knew that Acara was a friend to me on this adventure.
I entered SVL with the idea that I would make the menstrual cup mainstream by manufacturing a new cup. I was convinced that all women needed was a new cup with better branding. During SVL I was introduced to the value proposition canvas. Working through each component of this canvas brought me to the realization that my value proposition wasn’t right and that I had a lot of customer discovery to do. The questions I had asked in the past three months provided limited insight. I left SVL with a more robust set of questions.
That spring, I conducted over 100 interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds. These women opened up to me about moments where they struggled with their current menstrual products. These issues resonated with me. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve faced some sort of embarrassing tampon leak. I realized there was a huge opportunity to support women with their periods by generating more awareness about existing products and by actively working to destigmatize intimate health.
I launched Ova Woman in July. We are the only comprehensive women’s intimate health company. We are an ecommerce platform that aggregates effective intimate health products. We generate awareness about intimate health issues and the products that support women with these issues. We actively seek out new products by connecting with innovators and linking their products to the people that need them the most. Before we sell a product on our website we have 30-50 women try the product and provide us feedback about their experience. We use this information in three ways. First, we use the information to decide if the product is right for our site. Second, we report this feedback to the product developers so they can work to improve their products. Third, the women who try these products help us generate supportive resources on how to be successful with the product.
This is just the beginning for Ova Woman. Our goal is to catalyze innovation in women’s intimate health. We want women to have access to products that bring greater comfort and confidence. Having the support of Acara early in this journey was critical. I learned three important lessons from SVL that I will carry with me throughout the development of Ova Woman and beyond.
- Ask open ended questions. To identify a customer need, you need to get out into the field and ask questions that get people talking. Make sure your questions are leading customers down a certain path. Leave the questions open ended so you can let the customer drive the conversation. I also learned that a great follow up question is “what else?”
- Getting customers talking is worthless if you aren’t actually listening. Make sure you are really capturing what people are saying. Check your filters at the door or at least be aware of them. Don’t go into these conversations thinking you already know the answer.
- Don’t get stuck. As I mentioned earlier, I originally planned to manufacture a new menstrual cup. At first I was really set on this and wasn’t really absorbing the feedback I was receiving from mentors and customers. I felt stuck, and instead of pivoting right away I tried to grasp on to my original idea. The faster you can fail and move on the better. Don’t hold on to original ideas for comfort. Let go, analyze the data and make an educated pivot.
– Elise Maxwell, CEO and Co-Founder, Ova Woman