Episode #245: Éva Goicochea, Maude, “The Ethos Of The Company Is To Make Sex More Human, More Normalized, Destigmatized…To Do That, It Started With Design”
Guest: Éva Goicochea is the founder and CEO of Maude.
Date Recorded: 8/19/2020
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Summary: In episode 245 we welcome our guest Éva Goicochea, founder and CEO of Maude.
In today’s episode, we’re talking about building a modern business around sexual wellness. We start with Éva’s background in the business world, and as a legislative aide in healthcare during her early career.
We talk about launching Maude, the origin story, and the need for a brand that can push to de-stigmatize sex and focus on intimacy and wellness for all people. We discuss the evolution of the sexual wellness industry, and the laws that shaped the industry we’re familiar with today. We get into innovating sexual wellness products, and how Maude is doing that from a core base of quality, inclusive, essential products, and modern packaging.
We dive into the business, some of the interesting challenges the company has faced recently, from dealing with trying to keep products in stock, global supply chain issues during COVID, and finalizing a 3rd round of funding.
All this and more in episode 245 with Maude’s Éva Goicochea.
Links from the Episode:
- 0:40 – Sponsor: 2U Laundry
- 1:22 – Intro and special offer at getmaude.com with code: FORFABER
- 2:36 – Welcome to our guest, Éva Goicochea
- 4:38 – Éva’s career before starting the company
- 5:50 – Origin of Maude
- 5:47 – Early days of the company
- 6:49 – How the industry has changed recently
- 8:57 – Innovation happening in the space
- 12:09 – Having a mission-based company
- 13:46 – Maude’s marketing strategy
- 15:24 – Challenges marketing on Facebook
- 16:31 – Maude’s products and what has been popular
- 18:02 – Customer demographics
- 19:57 – Insights and surprises
- 21:14 – What differentiates Maude competitors
- 22:44 – How coronavirus has impacted Maude’s business
- 23:59 – The future for Maude
- 25:15 – Content creation as part of the growth strategy
- 27:24 – Sex and the Wild West
- 28:33 – Content and conversions
- 28:57 – Using Instagram and other social platforms
- 30:09 – Expansion of the product catalogue
- 30:40 – Acquiring new customers
- 32:06 – Biggest challenges ahead
- 32:59 – Most memorable moment of the business and inventory challenges
- 35:31 – Learn more at getmaude.com and The Maudern
Transcript of Episode 245:
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Meb: Hello, listeners. Today’s financial markets are as volatile as ever, and people are looking for recession and pandemic proof investments in our new normal. The franchising industry is thriving, and prior podcast guest 2ULaundry is launching the first of its kind laundry franchise opportunity. They’re currently taking interest for those who want to make a wrinkle in their community through business. To learn more about their franchising opportunity, visit 2ulaundry.com/franchise. That’s 2ulaundry.com/franchise or text meb2u to 58815. That’s meb2u, 58815.
Welcome, podcast listeners. Today, we have a different show for you, one that covers one of the most stigmatised topics in modern society. And no, I’m not talking about your portfolio. Our guest is the founder and CEO of Maude, a startup launched to disrupt a legacy sexual tech industry solely focused on sexual wellness for all people. In today’s episode, we’re talking about building a modern business around sexual wellness. We cover the origin story behind launching Maude and the need for a brand that can push to destigmatise sex and focus on intimacy and wellness for all people. We discuss laws that shaped and evolved the industry we’re familiar with today. We get into innovating sexual wellness products and how Maude is doing that from a core base of quality, inclusive, essential products paired with modern packaging. We dive into the business, some of the interesting challenges the company has faced recently, like trying to keep products in stock, global supply chain issues during COVID, and finalising a new round of funding. As a special offer for listeners of this show, visit getmaude.com and use the code forfaber, that’s F-O-R-F-A-B-E-R, for 10% off your first order. Please enjoy this episode, with Maude’s Éva Goicochea.
Éva, welcome to the show.
Éva: Thank you so much.
Meb: We’re recording this in…I was going to say I don’t even know what day of the week this is. It’s Wednesday, late August. I’ve actually been on about a two-month road trip and coming back through Northern California to my home in L.A., which used to be your home. But now, where do we find you in quarantine and in the summer?
Éva: I am sitting in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And I’ve been here for about four years. So I don’t miss L.A. much. I’m so sorry. I was in L.A. for about eight years.
Meb: I love New York City. I miss getting there. Fingers crossed for 2021. Although I did say, earlier in this year, one of the questions I was asking podcast guests is, when is the next time you’re gonna see live music? And I checked that box this summer. I was socially distancing in Wyoming, got to see a great bluegrass band. So there’s green shoots of hope, I think. And you guys seem to have turned the corner a little bit. Does that sound about right?
Éva: Yeah. I mean, New York, as I was saying to someone this morning, I feel like the people that are left are resilient and they’re happy. They’re making the best of it, and there’s a good outdoor culture happening right now. And so I feel like it’s actually a really nice summer. I don’t know if anyone really loves millions and millions of tourists in their city. So it’s kind of a nice break.
Meb: So today, we’re going to knock down the walls of two of the biggest areas are considered to be sort of stigma incumbents that are just kinda old and backwards, my world of investing and finance and your world of sex, tech, intimacy, everything under that umbrella. If I was to ask people and say, what are the two areas that people feel most awkward talking about personally, it’s probably gonna be all these two, right? I don’t even know what else would fit under that umbrella.
Éva: Yeah. I mean, I would say people are uncomfortable talking about money sometimes, maybe money and sex.
Meb: All right. We’ll get into it. All right. But before we get into all of those things, tell me a little bit about your background. Before starting your company, what were you up to?
Éva: So before starting a company, I was actually an early employee at another startup called Everlane, which I’m sure you know of. I was in the L.A. office, one of the really early team members there. And then before that, spent about 10 years in consumer. And then my really early career, I was a legislative aide in health care. So that’s bit of a windy road, but I think those two chapters kind of lead me to Maude, so it makes a lot of sense.
Meb: What’s the origin story? Give us the inspiration.
Éva: So when I left Everlane, I wanted to work for a consumer health care startup, and I was in L.A., as I mentioned, and just wasn’t really excited about anything happening but was firmly planted there. I bought a house. And so I started digging into sexual wellness. It was something that was always top of mind for me. I came from a state, New Mexico, which 48th worst state in terms of condom usage. I have nieces who have had babies quite young. And I just saw a really big disconnect. And as I started researching the category, I realised there was a lot of green space, a lot of consumers who were not happy, in fact, most people, and started working on it in 2015 and then officially launched in 2018.
Meb: All right. Walk us through kinda the early days. Tell me about what was the original vision, what’s the kind of horizon goals of what you were starting it to do, and how long was the on-ramp on getting it to starting to offer products and solutions.
Éva: Yeah. I mean, the on-ramp was long. 2015, it was an idea. 2016, started really working on the brand. It went through a couple of iterations, as I’m sure many companies do. The ethos of the company is really to make sex more human, more normalised, destigmatised, all of the things we’re talking about. And to do that, I think it started with design, so making products that were accessibly designed and that were easy to use and sort of ageless and genderless. Worked on that in 2016, and then, in 2017, raised my first round of funding, and then launched in 2018. But it was a long process, and I think when you’re dealing with the FDA, when you’re dealing with very high MOQs, which is minimum order quantities, it just takes a bit of time to get off the ground.
Meb: As I think about this industry, I tend to think of it in a couple of ways, and please correct me, tend to think of it as pretty old school incumbents, like Trojan, that had been around forever, traditional distribution routes, like gas stations or super creepy sex shops, which still exist, I guess, to some extent. A lot of that has moved online. Maybe sort of walk me through, has that industry transitioned at all? Has it been something that’s been pretty calcified for the last 100 years? I’m really not that versed on what it looks like other than probably what most would be.
Éva: Yeah. Actually, you’re right on the nose. So in 1919, the first latex condom was introduced, so it’s about 101 years. But the way that this industry evolved is really interesting, actually. So condoms, if anything, considered sort of pornographic, were basically outlawed. There was like a prohibition for this industry, and that was through the Comstock laws, which actually started here in Brooklyn, interestingly enough. And the idea was really to make these products go away, and it obviously had a lot to do with religion and etc. But what was happening simultaneously was that soldiers were spreading venereal diseases. Eventually, as the Comstock laws, they started to be dismantled, what you’re finding was that condoms were being prescribed by doctors, and Trojan, the Trojans of the world, literally Trojan actually who ate up a lot of the smaller brands, got really into bed, no pun intended, with physicians and doctors and pharmacists. And so that was the way that they started. And over time, it’s become monopolised via distribution. But what that means is that these are really old school companies, they don’t have an online presence the way a digitally native brand in terms of the flexibility you have as a digitally native brand, and so it’s really a David and Goliath situation. But at the same time, we have an edge because we know who our customers are and we’re able to be really nimble. So there’s a much longer history of condoms. I flew into it. That’s not totally what [inaudible 00:08:51]. But it’s a really, really fascinating history.
Meb: My first thought as someone listening to you talk about this is I wonder how much innovation could possibly happen in that space. I fondly recall, I graduated high school in the ’90s, and the big challenge at that point was just distribution and having, I remember…and the cost, of course, and I remember a couple of buddies started a website called freecondoms.com. This was early in the internet days. They made a fortune doing it, did a really good job. Shout out, Rob, Peter. I have no idea what happened to it. They got sideways with some sort of government organisation. I can’t remember. Anyway, how much innovation is there possible in that space? And we’ll jump to you all’s products and kinda philosophy in a little bit, but as far as those go, what are sort of the main differences that you guys thought about as you’re attacking, what I assume everyone would be familiar with, with the traditional offerings?
Éva: So like I said, condoms are class II medical devices. You’re dealing with the FDA. And so the innovation comes in the form of a very long process. We didn’t have that process. A, we weren’t capitalised to go and create a new condom, but also, we have people that have gone before us that have tried to innovate on the condom, and the fact is it doesn’t matter. The innovation comes in the form of getting people to use condoms at all. A condom works when used correctly. It works 98% of the time. So the main issue is, sure, we could spend all this money, and actually, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put out a call to action to say, “Innovate the condom, we’ll give you $1 million,” because they want people to be using protection. But that’s not really the challenge. The challenge is how do you destigmatise these products enough to get people to have conversations and teach basic education and be talking to their partners, etc. So we went to these factories, and we said, “We want to innovate the packaging. We wanna be able to use buttercup packaging, which is really easy to open.” And the innovation there, whilst small, actually condoms are used incorrectly often because they’re unrolled first, and so this allows for you to know which way is up and to unroll it correctly. So that was the condom.
And then when you kinda go down the line of the products that we offer, like the vibe we design from scratch, the bath and body products we own formulations for, and then the lubricant we worked with an FDA-approved factory to create really body-safe products. So over time, we’ll be able to innovate a lot, but I think when you’re just starting out, and the reason why you don’t see 100 other companies like us, is because it’s really cost-prohibitive. So the innovation is in the form of the brand and the education.
Meb: You just sparked a memory. I remember my mom telling me she was doing a sort of healthcare-focused charity mission trip somewhere in the Third World, and I’m gonna blank on where it was, and they were trying to educate on the benefits of using condoms with the population they were talking to. And then they were in a kitchen and came back a few days later just to follow up on the discussion, and they demonstrated by putting the condom on some carrots, and came back a few days later and all the condoms they had given them were just on the carrots in the kitchen. There’s the education, but also, will people actually use it? Who knows? All right. So what was sort of the rollout process on a couple of the first products? And I know you guys kinda have a whole suite now, but maybe walk me through the timeline of kinda how you started launching these and some of the initial reception.
Éva: I’m gonna back it up a bit to sort of talk about the philosophy I have around companies, specifically product companies. I think there are really two kinds of companies. There are product companies and there are mission-based companies. And at the end of the day, if you’re a mission-based company, and I’m not talking about like a giveback model, I mean like if you stand for travel or you stand for intimacy, you should be able to create a world in which you can introduce lots of products and your consumers will buy from you. I did not wanna create a commoditised brand. I didn’t wanna launch and say a condom is a hero or a vibrator is a hero. I wanted to create a brand for intimacy. And to do that, we needed to launch with four products and really kind of democratise the pricing and the accessibility and the messaging around them. So we launched with two lubricants, one is organic aloe-based lubricant, the other one is silicone, two different usages, a vibrator, and condoms. And that allowed for us to, out of the gate, be perceived as an intimacy company. We also had a year’s worth of press, because I started working on press early, and we had 700 people who had signed up to get our product early. So we had a good foundation to set the tone. And then, over time, serving our customer, we rolled out other products to really serve the needs that they had. So that’s kind of how we started.
Meb: Feel free to pick one or two of any of the most popular products. We’d love to hear a little more kinda differentiators, how you’ve kinda reached out. I assume the general marketing strategy is a combination of digital and sort of just getting the word out. I assume these aren’t traditionally distributed to target or whatnot yet. Maybe they are. I don’t know.
Éva: Yeah, they are, actually.
Meb: They are, okay. Well, let’s hear it.
Éva: Yeah, they are. Well, so I wanted to create a company that was eventually omnichannel because, as most personal care is bought in-store, this category is also bought in-store. Obviously, the benefit is you conserve a customer who wants a really private destigmatised experience online. But at the end of the day, the volume is in-store. So I can’t really reveal what’s happening in the next year, but I can let you know that we are going to a big retailer. I think, for us, the distribution piece in terms of where we were gonna be, we wanted to align ourselves early with really sort of brand-focused partners. So not only building up the online channel through digital marketing, through press, through word of mouth, all of that stuff, but then also being in places that captured an audience that was going to be like ours. And so we have a lot of hospitality partners, we’re in a lot of retailers, and that’s worked really, really well, because we see those people come back to our site. It was a pretty multipronged approach when we launched. We are not reliant on Facebook. Facebook is not actually our friend when it comes to sexual wellness, so we’ve never really been reliant on it, but we do spend money there. And then the bulk of it has been through building out a real brand and an organic community. That’s how we’ve grown.
Meb: What’s the challenge with Facebook? Is it perceived as a topic that’s taboo or something?
Éva: Yes. The challenge with Facebook, it’s funny because we just launched with MoMA this week, and they called…I actually saw the shape of the vibrator in a MoMA store, and that was the first inspiration for the vibrator. And I was explaining that, really, Brancusi, the artist Brancusi was kind of an inspiration for it. So you have this Brancusi object that looks like a paperweight that is considered too sexually explicit because it’s a vibrator, which is a whole…again, this could be an entire episode around sex toys and what that all really encompasses and means. But because we have a sex toy, even though we don’t call it a toy, it’s considered explicit. And so we have navigated Facebook because we’re really a sexual wellness company and we’re not explicit at all in our messaging.
Meb: We’ve experimented with digital marketing this year on Facebook, and because we have a cannabis investment strategy, it somehow tweaks every other possible piece of content and advertising. Anyway, long rabbit hole. So what have been some of the most popular products? You know, I imagine, in your vision in 2018 and then walk forward a couple of years, you would, I assume, have some preconceived notions of what people would be most interested in. But like anyone launching products, people tend to adopt or gravitate to things differently than you may have envisioned or it may be exactly what you thought. Any general summaries of kinda, over the last couple of years, as you’ve launched these products as uptake and interest?
Éva: Yeah. I mean, I wanted to build an essentials business. So in that, I mean the sex products and then eventually launch other auxiliary products. But it was really, okay, we can’t advertise the vibrator, but we can advertise condoms and lubricant. So we do have an audience for that. And there’s sort of two buying patterns with our audience, which is they buy the vibe and then they’ll buy something else, and they may not necessarily be a condom and a lubricant buyer. So they act like I thought they would act. I think in terms of where we get to market and what gets picked up, the vibe becomes the hero everybody wants to talk about it in the press. And then, on our digital marketing channels, it’s primarily like the basics. So the audience really reflects exactly what I thought they would be. They are 70% middle of the country, they are 2 times more likely to be married, they’re an older audience, they tend to be over 25 or 30, and that’s what I was looking to build. So as it stands, like I said, 85% sex products and 15% are bath and body products, and that’s really how we’d like to keep the mix.
Meb: Well, the bath and body products are pretty cool. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not only an investor but also a consumer. They got massage candles, you’ve got coconut milk bath. What tends to be the breakdown between men and women? If I had to guess, hold on, let me think about it, I would assume it’s probably 60-40 women to men.
Éva: Yeah, you’re about right. But because they’re more likely to be in a relationship, we get feedback, we have reviews, etc., they’re often buying for themselves and their partner. We do tend to have this thought that we are getting to both men and women. And when we’ve had partnerships that were exclusively for our male audience, they have absolutely everything has flown off the shelves. It’s interesting. I mean, also as a female founder, people tend to think that Maude is for women, but yeah, that’s about the split. You’re right.
Meb: The compliment I would give you guys is a lot of the packaging and design is that sort of beautiful design. So it’s the less sort of in-your-face traditional sort of male…I feel like people always barbell on the sort of two camps. It’s either the “Hey, we’re female-focused” or it’s just like dude-focused. And I feel like there’s…you guys seem to kinda the Venn diagram would be approachable to both. And maybe that was intentional, I’m not sure.
Éva: That’s absolutely intentional, and also the age inclusivity, right, because you have sex your entire adult life. So we say sex is human. I often make the analogy that it’s like food. Food isn’t gendered. And I think it’s this thing where sex and gender are related but they’re not necessarily always correlated. And if you’re having sex with a partner, why would you come home with condoms that are for men in use but marketed to women? It just doesn’t make any sense. Like sex is just a human thing. So behind the scenes, we’re like it’s just for people, and that’s how we operate.
Meb: Tell me a little bit about, as you’ve done this in the past couple of years, I used to always love reading the OkCupid kinda quant statistical analysis of who’s using their site and why. Have there been any insights or things that have really surprised you over the past couple of years where you’re like, “I’m surprised we did this and that happened,” or “We launched this and it was a total dud?” I say this from someone who’s launched 11 investment funds and counting, and very often, I am surprised that the reception on both sides sometimes is just a moment in time where something sticks, another time, it’s crickets. Any thoughts?
Éva: I mean, I knew that the vibe would be popular, but we’ve had 17,000 preorders through COVID, and we have a waitlist in the multiple thousands, and it’s just amazing. It’s like it’s really weird to think that the vibe is across America. I don’t know how. And now in Canada. I don’t know how else to say it. I think it’s just really become a hero product. And we haven’t dug into, like I said, really what that means, but it does, given the feedback and some of the reviews, I just think that it means a lot that that product in and of itself is becoming so destigmatised. I think it means a good thing for everybody.
Meb: And what do you think the driving force behind that is? I mean, obviously, everyone’s stuck at home, and it’s coronavirus, and so there may be a rising tide in general. But what sort of differentiates you all’s product versus what’s out there? I mean, if I would have guessed before becoming familiar with you guys, I would have said, I would have guessed it to be a saturated category where I can’t imagine there being that much innovation going on, but you guys clearly have found a product-market fit. What do you think the big differentiators are?
Éva: So a lot of the feedback that we got in the beginning, and I don’t think I even have to tell you as a consumer because I feel the same way, which is the last thing you want is to be inundated with choice in this category, especially if it’s your first vibrator. Statistically, they say that about 50% of households own/know sex toy, and the other 50% own on average 3. There’s a bit of a gap there, and I think what you could say is that the challenge of buying these products is it does feel oversaturated, it’s really stigmatised, it’s uncomfortable to buy it in person and then often online as well. So I think just having one choice, one product, it’s not complicated. I think it makes people feel like they can try it and they can incorporate it into their lives. And when you have 70% of women who don’t orgasm during vaginal sex, obviously, there’s a need. Orgasms aren’t everything, but I think in some people having happy, healthy, well-rounded sex lives, vibrators are important.
Meb: Talk to me a little bit more about coronavirus. Has this been something that I imagine has been as…I mean, if you look at wine sales that have gone through the roof the past few months and certain other industries, I imagine this has been a tailwind, but has there been any other impacts to you all’s business? You mentioned there’s been a pretty strong demand for the vibe. Any other just general takeaways on how it’s been running the company in New York, no less, in the past six months?
Éva: Yeah. I mean, our day to day has looked pretty much like it did before COVID. So we come to the office, the whole team. There’s not a big team. We’re only five. But half of the team was here through COVID, and the other half started coming back a couple of months ago. But just in terms of keeping product in stock, navigating the hurdles of, like Everlane, we work directly with each of our factories, so we’re talking a lot of global network that we’re dealing with in trying to navigate those relationships, those timelines, a lot of the hurdles around inventory. That’s been an interesting challenge. We just finished the third round of funding, and to raise during that and say, “Look the demand is huge, we can’t keep any product in stock and just trying to toe the line between inventory and demand,” has been really fascinating. And a lot of it is not in our control. So it’s a good thing and a bad thing.
Meb: As the world starts to normalise, maybe, who knows, tell me a little bit about the horizon. You guys have been out this for a few years, all the agonies and ecstasies of being a startup founder. You guys still have a nice tight team. What does sort of 2020, 2021 look like for your company? Is it focused mostly on expanding the current lineup? Is it selling products you have currently? Is it focused on marketing? What’s kinda the horizon look like?
Éva: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s all of the above. Like I said, we’re rolling out with a major retailer, which I think will change the composition of the team. We have 18 desks in the office, and only 5 of them are occupied. So we plan for that early. And then, in terms of marketing, we have had a really good year in terms of understanding our marketing mix, what our CAC looks like being profitable first purchase, and then this essentially created the blueprint for growth. And so I think this time has just allowed for us to feel really confident about what the next couple of years look like on the D2C side, and then we’re planning for the other side. There’s a lot of stuff on the horizon. And then we have an announcement around someone who’s involved with the company soon. So yeah, there’s a lot going on.
Meb: We’ve put out a lot of investment content. I mean, I think we’ve done, I think, 2,000 blog posts and books and whitepapers and everything else. And that, for a young startup, has been essential to kinda get the word out, and it’s nice because it tends to be low cost. I imagine, in your part of the world, it’s particularly interesting because people are searching, I imagine, for a lot of these topics and terms. How has content been kinda part of you all’s strategy for both education but also for marketing too?
Éva: From day one, we had a blog. I’m not of the philosophy that every startup needs a blog, in fact, I think most don’t, because depending on the content, you really can’t compete in that subject matter. But when it comes to sexual wellness, we saw a wide-open space around talking about it in the lifestyle way, whether that’s art, design, culture, food. We’ve taken that approach, and that’s grown tremendously. So it used to just be a blog, kinda looked like a Tumblr on our site. And then, in June, we launched a full-blown content site. It has three verticals, the essentials, which is an 18- to 25-year-old audience, the “maudern,” which is 25 to 40, and then the golden, which is 40 and up. And it has served these audiences in a way that we can continue to develop products and the right voice for them. And we have about 300,000 viewers a month, and that’s ever-growing. And then it also cycles back in through SEO to creating a much larger marketing ecosystem for the products themselves. So it’s great. We send out an email every week that’s dedicated to the maudern, and most of our readers read it.
Meb: What, to the extent you remember or recall…I’m always surprised by what I end up spending like months on a research piece, and we’ll publish it, and it’s like crickets, and then we’ll do a stupid tweet or article that ends up being the one that goes viral and people are interested in. Any particularly memorable pieces of content or topics that people are most curious about?
Éva: We have five articles that drive the most amount of traffic, and I can’t name them off the top of my head except for one, which is Sex in the Wild West. It’s one of our oldest pieces of content. It’s really small. It was written like it should be on Tumblr. And for some reason, it drives a ton of traffic.
Meb: You have to expand. What does that even…for someone who’s just spent the last two months in the Wild West, does this mean like 200 years ago Wild West or does it mean…what is this possible headline?
Éva: Yeah. This means like ladies of the night in the Old West.
Meb: Got it.
Éva: Who knows? I mean, maybe it’s just because we can own that search term, but it’s pretty funny.
Meb: That is funny. I remember, I had a tweet or an article once that had a thesis that most investment managers that were men had their best periods of performance when they had a moustache, and I haven’t looked at this in like 10 years. But I remember I used to laugh because I would get so many inbound Google searches from some totally random variant of nothing to do with what I was writing about in the word moustache. And it was, like, ended up being for like years. So it’s funny. Who knows what the inbound was?
Éva: Well, we had one about chest hair, did the same thing. So you just never know.
Meb: How much of that do you think actually has an impact on conversations? Is it a fairly meaningful amount?
Éva: In June, when we moved over to a bigger format, we added product at the bottom. So we’re starting to see data around if there are conversations on that page, actually. But as it stands before that, they were pretty disconnected. So I will let you know soon.
Meb: How’s Instagram been? Because I imagine, for you guys, having the visual of the actual products in just very quick, I don’t think that I’ve ever unintentionally clicked on a Google Ad in my entire life. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything. However, I have probably purchased 30 things off Instagram in the past few years, whether it’s the targeting, whether it’s the visual, I’m not sure. But how much of an acquisition channel of the various…we’ve talked about Facebook earlier, but is Instagram a big one? Is it pictures that end up driving it? Does it tend to be words? Any insights?
Éva: We have a pretty good organic following, and we’ll see people on the post-purchase survey talk about that. So we don’t run Facebook ads, but we run ads through Facebook on Instagram, and those get picked up quite a bit. So we’ll see a lot of…I mean, you see that based on these. And people tell me they get served with Maude ads all the time. So it’s actually a pretty big driver for us, but then I think, also, when you have a good organic presence and a good feed, the trust gets built in, because they can look up your feed and they feel more comfortable about it. So that makes sense that you’d buy off Instagram.
Meb: What is the product suite? Is that something you’re looking to expand at all in the coming years? Can you talk about it at all?
Éva: Yeah. We’ll have a couple other alternatives to the basic essentials that we have. We’ll probably come out with a new toy or two, a different sized condom, and then some more scents around our bath and body products. And we have a product that’s being released in September that will expand our body line. So we’re not going too wide, but we wanna basically be your intimacy company from A to Z.
Meb: It’s interesting you talk about it being the demographics, middle of the country. I would have guessed probably the opposite. But what role does kinda education or introducing sort of new potential consumers to the products? Does that tend to be a small part of the funnel? Is it really kind of people that are already searching for these sort of products? Or is it actually expanding the territory to where you’re getting a lot of kinda totally new consumers into the sort of potential field?
Éva: A lot of it is new, because what we’re seeing through the press and the word of mouth is people telling other people. There’s sort of two parts to that question. I think the first one is, what does our retention versus new customer mix look like? We don’t have anyone focused on retention quite yet on the team, and that’s sort of the next hire. So we really are acquiring new customers all the time. We’ve been in 500 pieces of press, so we get slammed with new customers on a regular basis. So that’s one piece of it. And then the second piece of it is just when you look at where they’re coming from, they’re not necessarily coming from Google search. That’s not like the bulk of people looking for these products or typing in “how to replace my old vibrator.” They’re finding out about us through friends or these pieces of press. And so it kinda indicates that they’re new users. And then the feedback and the reviews around “Oh, this is my first vibe,” or “We just tried this product for the first time.” So all of that together kind of indicates that it’s a new audience.
Meb: What are you most excited about this next sort of chapter for you guys? Any thoughts on the biggest challenge coming up?
Éva: Yeah. I mean, we’re looking ahead in our A, our series A. I think we’re looking ahead at how to expand the inventory, which is a never-ending problem, I think, for most growing product companies. And then, really, the graduation of moving into large retail footprint. So I’m looking forward to 2021. 2020 can’t be over soon enough, which I’m sure other people feel the same way.
Meb: It’s felt like an entire decade already. I mean, I was just driving through Lake Tahoe where there were warnings about fire tornadoes, and I was like, “How is that…I’ve never even heard of that, and that’s now a thing where there’s gonna be tornadoes of fire that you have to potentially evacuate from.” And California, in general, as you hear my scratchy voice, that’s one of the reasons why it’s hot and trouble here. All right. So as you look back over the past couple of years, man, it’s only been two years, but you’ve really been crushing it. And by the way, listeners, if we got any series A investors out there curious, reach out. I’m sure that the Maude team would love to chat. What’s been the most memorable moment of the past couple of years? Now, it can be a good one, it can be a bad one, it can be a customer review, it could be your first time getting mentioned in a magazine, anything pop to mind, anything super memorable, good, bad, in between.
Éva: Yeah. I mean, so on my birthday last year, I think it was last year, might have been 2018, I don’t know, the years are [inaudible 00:33:32], on my birthday, we got in a really big piece of press that sold through most of our product in one day. And it was a great birthday present, it was also a big challenge. So that was exciting. And then in our first year, we’re in “The New York Times” print, and I was on my way to Mexico City to a wedding, and I got to pick up the paper. And I think that was just really a moment of having this tangible thing in your hand and saying like, “This is real.” So that was really exciting.
Meb: What do you guys do? I mean, from someone who’s never obviously managed a product company, and you get sold out like that, like how challenging is that? Is that something where you say, “Hey, look, okay, just we’ll be shipping this in a month, sorry,” or do you have the ability to scale up the production? How does that work?
Éva: We can scale production. Obviously, through COVID, it was a bit of a trickier challenge because there really were raw material outages, etc. But I think, for us, it’s just planning. So we actually now have, even though we’re a team of five, we have a lot of fractional C-level team members. So we have a chief planning officer who just came on board. Now, we’re planning through the end of next year, and we’re erring on the side of we can be overbuying, because we have gone…on those kinds of spikes, you have to have products in stock. But I will say that our customers have been really great. I email them personally, and they send me really nice notes back. And I think it creates a relationship that we have with them that they feel like we’re real people behind the scenes and we’re working as hard as we can to get them the products that they’ve got. So it’s always a challenge, but I get really excited at the prospect of just making sure people know that there’s a human paying attention to them and keeping our heads on straight. And one of the things that we haven’t touched on but that’s so important is that Maude has a really strong happy culture. And so I don’t want anybody going home at the end of the night thinking like we completely failed because something like that has happened. It will happen again, and we will get through it, and I want everyone to have a life outside of the office.
Meb: Where do people go if they wanna find out more about you guys, about your offerings, interested in some products? What’s the best place?
Éva: Getmaude.com, so M-A-U-D-E, because we couldn’t just get maude.com. And we also have a blog that has a pretty sizable amount of viewers every month, and that’s called the Maudern. So you can go to themaudern.com, spelt M-A-U-D-E-R-N.
Meb: The maude.com, I think it’s just a squatter. There’s a restaurant in L.A., it’s actually a pretty fancy restaurant. Is that who’s [inaudible 00:35:58]?
Éva: I know, it is.
Meb: I don’t know.
Éva: No. It’s a squatter in Spain. And even my Spanish couldn’t get through, so.
Meb: So yeah, I’ll send you a lifetime supply of candles if you give us the domain. Well, maybe, hopefully, it’ll be one of our listeners and they’ll reach out. They’ll see the light. That’s frustrating. Well, you got a good domain anyway. The restaurant in L.A. that does it, I don’t even know if they’re still around, but.
Éva: I think it’s Curtis Stone’s restaurant, yeah.
Meb: They used to do, and you can correct me, they used to do an entire like menu focused on one ingredient. I don’t know if they still do that anymore. It was delicious, but it would be like somehow asparagus would be on every potential offering. I don’t know.
Éva: Well, if they’re still around, we’re gonna have to do a dinner with them, I suppose.
Meb: Yeah, that’s a great one. Éva, thanks so much for taking the time today. Listeners, if you’re a potential employee, if you’re a potential investor, if you’re a potential customer, which is everyone, because I know you guys have nothing to do during quarantine, go check out getmaude.com. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Éva: Thank you so much for having me.
Meb: Podcast listeners, we’ll post show notes to today’s conversation at mebfaber.com/podcast. If you love this show, if you hate it, shoot us firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to read the reviews. Please review us on iTunes and subscribe to the show, anywhere good podcasts are found. My current favourite is Breaker. Thanks for listening, friends, and good investing.