How to patent a formula & the blueprint for a 7 figure brand, with Type A Founder Allison Moss

In this episode I’m chatting with the founder of Type A, Allison Moss.

By making safer, high-performance personal care, Type A are on a mission to help people lead healthier lives by making it easy to switch to better-for-you products. They’re mostly known from their hero deodorant which is patented and unlike anything else on the market. We’re covering how you actually do that, the costs involved and how to launch into retail with your dream retailers.

If you haven’t heard me shout about our private network yet omg you’re in for a treat!! The date is set and we are launching on July 12! We’ve built what you’ve been asking for and we are so excited. I am so excited! This is a place we can connect and learn from each other. You’ll have access to some of the amazing women from the show for our take on Modern Mentorship, meet women who are building the next wave of the world’s best cpg and ecommerce brands - myself included, use our resident experts for things like Facebook ad reviews, business coaching and all sorts of business resources to help you grow your biz.

So! If you are a woman in the cpg slash ecomm world you can pop your name on the waitlist at Femalestartupclub.coms/waitlist and head to my Instagram highlights @dooneroisin for more details like the pricing, the why and the where.

Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!

So I'm Alison Moss, I'm the founder and Ceo of Taipei brands and yeah, we make Taipei deodorant and other body care products. What makes us special and different and really kind of the beginning of of how this all started is that we have a proprietary technology. So we actually built a formula that's patented now and that has, you know, a really different approach to odor and wetness protection. So for a lot of people who maybe have tried natural deodorant but they haven't worked, it's clean and it's safe, but it's also high performance and it can really hold up to whatever whatever life throws your way.

00:05:51 So that's, that's our hero Products were starting to branch out into other products have been a market for about three years. That's so cool and I'll wait till we get into it to tell you more to tell me all the things can we before we get started and you know, go back to the beginning, can we just talk about patenting a formula like what does that mean? And how do you actually patent a formula? Excellent question. I wasn't sure either. So my background is in the beauty industry. I've worked in marketing and management for 20 years. I worked with bigger brands, Loreal, Lancome Launer et cetera, and then some smaller brands out here in the West Coast primarily jury like skincare and Ozzy skincare brand, which is amazing. Shout out to Australian brands. Love them. Yeah. And uh beauty counter all of that to say. You know, I had, I wanted to take I really had the idea for type, inspired by what I had done in my professional life. I had brought dozens of products to market. I really focused on all of the details and the Ukraine these great user experiences and high efficacy formulations and then more and more sort of something that is natural or clean or safe and in deodorant, I just didn't see that being done.

00:06:59 And I had an idea for a different approach when it comes to the patent and the idea of protecting it, that there it's not common to get a patent in beauty. And I had seen that, but at the same time I felt that we were doing something that had been done before and I started to ask around and really was leveraging my network and my connections to say like is it a crazy idea to go after a patent and what's the downside and what's the cost? And it really ended up being, you know, pretty low risk to go after it and you know, relatively speaking to starting a business, lower costs. So I said, why not? Let's go for it. And I actually worked with a legal team that I know through my network. Um I talked to a couple and it was really, you know, I think there's a, there's a general theme here. Have a lot of talking, just, you know, talking to try to inform myself, make myself smarter. What don't I know, learn listen to people who knew more than I do about a lot of things. And that continues to be a threat throughout the business. And how much does it cost to actually patent the formula and like what's the timeline to do something like that?

00:08:02 We worked on the formula. So like the backstory on the formula is I had this idea was like, we can create a time released, we can mimic the time release and that way we can have longer lasting protection and we can hold up to kind of anything you might be doing if it's stress sweat or if it's workouts or whatever. And also we can create more wetness protection by having a really strong kind of moistures absorbing sweat wicking aspect worked with the freelance comes to my network got our first submission really was were probably about 70% of the way they're on that first submission. And that, you know having seen many first submissions come in for other products and other categories over the years. I was like okay there's something here and we can turn this into something great and so worked over six months to refine it and then put into testing. It was probably about a nine month total process to get the formula ready And at that point along the way, once it kind of was in testing and I wasn't as hands on with you know the tweets and the development. I started asking around and trying to educate myself on what does it take to get a patent the cost and all of that. We ended up finally over the patent in late 2017 and took three years to actually secure the patent and there's a number of like rounds when they come back with questions and you answer and you refine so the overall cost to to answer your question, I don't have a firm final number but you know the up front cost was a couple of $1,000.

00:09:18 There are subsequent costs though. So it ended up costing more than that. But over a period of three years for an upfront just to explore and even just get your basically provisional application in to get a sense of the opportunity and then if that's accepted then you can file for non provisional and then you can kind of go through that back and forth process and see if They will grant you something that's broad enough that is really protect herbal like you could patent an exact formula concentrated, you could patent an exact formula with every specific concentration it has 10% water in 15% of this in 20% of that. But then if someone goes and tweets and says I'm gonna put 11% of water and you know they're they're outside of your patent. So you wanted to have kind of just a broader scope and that's ultimately the net at the end of the process we actually filed there's some piper where if you can file that it can be sort of a non release so it doesn't become publicly released if you don't want the patent issued. So at the end of the day it gets whittled down to something to specific not as protective and not as much value as you're looking for then you can kind of walk away from it because I couldn't essentially because you can find every pattern online right?

00:10:27 Like you can go and search them and like understand them. So if you're posting your recipe or your formula doesn't that then allow people to be like yeah okay I'm going to copy that exactly and then tweak it by the 10% or 20% or whatever it has to change by to be not copied and then does something similar ish but with a new ingredient or something isn't that the risk that you have, it is a bit of a risk. And I definitely thought a lot about that. So one if they tried to copy your exact formula or anything within the range is that you have protected. So it starts off really broad, it's like this combination of types of ingredients that could be one of several different ingredients. So if someone were to find something outside of that, then that would be outside of the patent, but it's, it's intended, you know, in a best case scenario to be pretty broad. So this group of concentrate of different ingredients and that they could be in the formula from 5 to 15% or some broad concentration or even 5 to 20% and so got it okay by that way, you kind of, it narrows it down.

00:11:32 So yes, they're gonna have access to your formula. But there's also these really big kind of broad parameters that say like, you know, if you make tweaks within this range, it's still protected. The challenge with a patent is then if someone were to copy you, you go out there and you want to say, hey, that's our protective formula and that's a different animal. I think for us, for me, the, the investment in the patent was to really validate the difference that this, there's a lot of deodorant on the market and more have come out since we've launched and they're all very similar formulas and we even share some of those similar ingredients and we use some different ingredients, but for us it's a composition. That's really what makes it special. It's how we bring those ingredients together and how they work together. And that is sort of that mechanism is kind of what we wanted to protect. Got it. And so just to clarify, who do you think should be getting a pattern like when it comes to, for example, the beauty industry or even for me in the beverage industry, like should you be someone who is doing something very unique and very special or should you be someone who's like, yeah, like I have a serum and this is what I'm doing.

00:12:40 Like who should actually patent in your opinion? It's a great question. There was never no guarantees going through the patent process. So we couldn't rely and it was three years to get the patent And so you know, for the first two years in markets 2017 we were sort of foundational 2018, we launched first years of market, we didn't have the patent. So I think you have to be able to communicate your points of difference. Why this formula is unique. Works differently, delivers a result in in beauty, your skin care is going to be about results or efficacy in some fashion unless it's this or color, you know, or trend like if a terror colour than the trends. But yeah, communicate your point of difference and why this formula is unique and special and you have to be able to do that without a patent. And I think for those, you know, who want to go after the patent, there needs to be something that really hasn't been done in the category before. Mm Gosh, that's so interesting. Thanks for sharing. That's really cool. Congrats by the way. I love that for you. Thanks. Crazy. It is crazy.

00:13:43 Gosh, I love it. I got totally ahead of myself and you know, jumped a few steps forward. So I want to go back to the beginning. I want to go back to the initial kind of a half moments and talk about where you're entrepreneurial story actually got started. Sure. So I had mentioned some of the beauty businesses brands I've worked with in the past and it really was, you know, having brought so many products to market over the years and spent a ton of time probably over analyzing every detail about those product launches for other companies. I, you know, can, I don't always take that hat off at home and I probably and over analyze a lot of products they used to and when it came to aluminum free deodorant, natural deodorant, I had tried dozens. They were all disappointing, but I just sort of had some inspirations along a kind of a couple of different levels that, you know, let me just say, hey, there's a different way to approach this. And if we can do that, if this idea hands out and this formula really is effective and also easy to use then and without any real tradeoffs, then why wouldn't you make the switch to something healthier?

00:14:49 And isn't it easier to stick with it? So with all of that, it felt like a chance to actually do something that can help people's lives bring a great product market that can also be one small but one important sort of safer, healthier change that they can make. And that was really exciting for me. So yeah, I was actually on maternity leave with my second and had a bit of extra time on my hands because baby sleep a lot when it's your second, you're like, okay, I got this, I know the blueprint, I took that time to kind of really dive in and you know, look at the competitive landscape and say like, hey is a real opportunity here, I think there is work with a freelance chemists in my network and then, you know, it was a year and change later that we brought to bay to market. That's so crazy. I'm just trying to understand, like, you know, you tried things on the market that you didn't think were very good and there wasn't something that really solved the problems that you're facing, but like how did you get to the point of thinking, yeah, we're going to launch this, like not done before, way of formulating a product like and, and I forget what you said earlier, like the specific words that you said, but like slower to release or something like that.

00:15:58 Like how did you actually get to that? I don't understand. So it was a couple of things. The thesis was first I had seen in other categories that you could create higher performance formula if you didn't try to force it into being highly or all natural and you embrace safe synthetic ingredients. And so what I was looking at the deodorant category, every formula was just really focused on all natural. A lot of the formulas that we're taking over are starting to get momentum. We're all about ingredients you can eat. That's great. And a lot of them have started in the kitchen and again and that's, that could be great, but it limits efficacy And so you know, first I said, hey, I can think of a number of ingredients I've seen in skin therapy effective in a based formula for a variety of different purposes. Maybe two deliver something that doesn't stain it, create a lighter way, like not as a heavy oil of a base that could be better and more clothing friendly. You know, something that's not irritating. How can we create a really lovely texture on the skin and aesthetic that glides on smooth so you don't have to warm the formula up on your hand and then isn't irritating and is really nurturing.

00:17:03 Taking a lot of those insights first setting the bar high for safety and clean and not focusing on all natural and then just taking a lot of the references I had from other categories. And then the last piece was, let's try to mimic a time release and that's ultimately we ended up doing so we created a formula that is sweat wicking. We call it our sweat activated technology. That sort sort of consumer facing language is absolutely language in the patent to and what it basically means is that the formula, every time it encounters moisture, it wicks that moisture away so it keeps you feeling pressure. There's no deodorant on the market that has the combination of ingredients we do that can deliver the same level of witness protection. And that's huge for people because they're just not feeling that like on a day to day basis, I'm sitting at my desk and suddenly I'm like uncomfortable. That's the thing, A big piece of, you know, wanting to switch to something aluminum free. But then really being able to stick with it because again, trying to produce all the trade offs. So the sweat wicking the moisture absorption, that's a big piece of it. But then the other piece of it is every time the formula encounters that moisture it releases just a little bit of the odor protecting complex, so little by little it's releasing the odor protectors as you sweat.

00:18:10 So it's working with your body when you sweat, it mimics the time release. Gosh! That is just bloody genius. That's cool man. Holy I'm really glad it worked. And it was an idea. But I, yeah, like I said, I'm just, I think I'm constantly, my mind is always turning and again it had been, you know, this is just, I guess how I was sort of trained. Maybe there's a little bit of nature in there to just always tinkering and like how can I make this better? But also a lot of observing and saying like, what do I see, what's working, what's working elsewhere? What kind of work can we apply it? And um, yeah, there's a lot of professional training that doesn't go to sleep at night. And uh somehow that applied to deodorant. Yeah, that's really cool. And it's really reflected in the like Kazillion five star reviews on your website of people saying those kind of things, you know that they're just never getting the problems that they had before. So wow kudos to you. That's really cool. How much capital did you need to get started and bring the brand to life And how did you finance it in the beginning? So my husband and I bootstrapped this until post launch and then we started to raise their friends and family and then that sort of turned we extended that into a seed round in 2019 and I've actually extended it since then.

00:19:25 So I've learned over time, this has definitely been an acquired new scale fundraising, then I'm grateful for it. And again it was a lot of, you know, my husband's actually in finance and so he doesn't do this. Exactly, but I have some good between some of my b school friends and and people I just know again in my network and having dan around, I was able to ask a lot of questions so I could, you know, get the guidance I needed. But yeah, we bootstrapped and you know, up front just to get the product to market really wasn't that expensive. You know, there was a little bit of investment and legal, there was a little bit of investment in the formula working with the chemist, but You know, each sort of material investment was in the few $1,000 ring, right? I'm also in various places in work. I've been work lives, especially you've had to learn to be pretty scrappy with budgets, nothing like what you do with the startup. But I just had that mentality from the beginning. There's, there's sort of two approaches, you can go and raise a lot of money and you can do it on a bigger scale more professionally. There's nothing wrong with that.

00:20:27 But that just wasn't my natural inclination and I feel like the pressure that that puts on the business to succeed is is a lot and I wasn't comfortable with that. And so my comfort level was, okay, let's do this crappy invest little by little. My husband was on board from day one. I said, I have this idea, you're gonna think I'm crazy and he's an entrepreneur at heart even though he's a finance guy and you know, day job and he was like, this is amazing, you should do this. And he's been, you know, strategic sounding board and an adviser and all of the things ever since. But having that partnership has been critical. And then of course to say like, hey, we're gonna put money in. I'd say he was actually more aggressive with wanting to, you know, with, with being open to putting money and then I was, I was more like really wanted to be so metered and careful, but ultimately it got to the point, how much did we put in pre launch Was less than 40 grand over a year and a half. And, And I'm blanking on the exact number, but you know, somewhere between 2045, which is a lot of money, don't get me wrong, you know, we had a fund for a new house and going to do in our business, instead but relatively speaking, you know, there are brands that raise $15 million level, but then also I think there is the need to understand sort of the expectations that can come with the capital, something I've learned over time, just capital raising.

00:21:57 Yeah, absolutely. I mean, then you have other people to answer to and you need to do things a certain way and you need to sell. Yeah, well you sort of, yeah, you say like, hey, we're gonna do this thing, we're gonna do this thing and you give us the money, we're going to do the thing and then nothing ever works according to plan and which is also somewhat understood. But then what is plan B and C and D look like? And where is that, what does that use of cap? How are you pivoting And maybe not getting stuck on plan a but also making sure that you're making the smartest use of all the capital. So yeah, it's a, it's an interesting balance. Once we launched, it was clear that we were going to need to be investing at a higher level. So we were putting more money into the business after that initial, you know, call 40 grand. And that's when, that's when we said, Hey, we're gonna raise the seat ground. We were advertising, we were getting some pr we're bringing in some consultants to support, We weren't in every full time employees yet. Um my partner in crime kate who's now our CMO was helping me part time. She's an old colleague of mine from Loreal, but we were on a, you know, sort of a good growth trajectory was still early days and it wasn't to the moon, but we saw the potential, we saw the product market fit and we wanted to lean into it.

00:23:06 And so then that's when we started the friends and family around. Mm. Yeah. So you've proven out the concept and then you're like, okay, how do we move faster? Yeah, exactly. Or like, yeah. And uh this is probably my like personality and a little bit impatient. But I was like, okay, Proven concept. Like let's let the academy take it to the next level, let's get it done and let's go, yeah, let's go, let's do it. So, so that was that was kind of how that happened. That was all kind of in year one in 2018. Mhm. Hey, hey, it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the FSC show, you'll hear women who were just like you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business. And I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now. You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing myths from today onwards.

00:24:15 I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached, our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, who you might also remember from our D. I. Y. Course, Full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business. And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month, all the way to $300,000 a month and in some cases upwards to seven figures. So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started, go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads, that's female startup club dot com forward slash A. D. S. And booking a call today, I read that you launched into credo beauty and I'm interested to know like how far in advance you needed to start working on that partnership and what that actually looks like, like how do you land a dream retailer before you even launch?

00:25:33 I will say, you know, one of the things that when I said, hey, I have this idea of this product, I'm gonna work on it and bring it to market for me as an entrepreneur, anything for everybody. It's different, the kind of cumulative experience that I had had professionally gave me a lot of confidence and so I knew there were things that I felt really comfortable saying, hey, I could at the very least get us off the ground when it comes to. So you know, running an e commerce, getting that up and running or some digital media or some, some of the other things I had just done before my life, the product marketing piece and then I also felt really confident in my network and just knowing who I was going to call already to validate to give me advice and I've been so blown away by how supportive everybody has been. I think, you know, I've just worked with some really amazing people over many years and I think there's just so much support that you have out there from your colleagues from your network that you can really leverage, so that from the beginning was a mindset, one of the early people that I called was a former coworker, she was actually the founding team at Beauty counter and her whole career is about health safety, formula integrity, um sustainability, All of the things that I wanted to really build into this and you know, this is meant to be healthier, safer, no sacrifice alternative.

00:26:48 Right, so called me a Mia Davis and she is, she started as a consultant is now a brand advisor for us. She also is now a credo, beauty. So she was able to facilitate an introduction to the buyer right before launch fun story. She was like, hey, I think you should talk to credo. They are setting the highest bar for safety from a retail perspective. They're doing things just top of the game there. An amazing partner would be great for you to get in early with them if they like the product. And I was like, I don't know, we're very lean. It's just me, I've got a lot on my plate and I actually was worried that I was taking on too much complexity from my other, one of my other approaches was just really streamline in the beginning. One scented one unscented version of the deodorant, no other products and I'm not sure like looking back, is that right? Is that wrong? But you know, reducing complexity was helpful in a number of ways and so only having one key channel to start which was DDC was also all of that said, of course I took the meeting with credo. The buyer loved the product and we decided to launch with that. So we launched on our site and then a few weeks later we launched it credo and it was one of the best decisions we made just to have the validity out of the gate from someone who's known for clean and known for curating brands and formulas that, that are exceptional.

00:28:02 It really helped and helped with pr it helped with awareness and and also they're just amazing people and we adore them and we're still, they're still great partners of ours now. So it was, it's all been amazing. That's so nice. I'm sure they're going to love to hear that for anyone who's kind of building a brand with that same idea in mind of like we're going to launch into a great retailer. How long in advance do you need to be having those conversations? Like what's the timeline? Excellent question. So retail timelines can be quite long and this is, you know, kate and I leaned a lot on, you know, experiences that Loreal and she's worked in other CPG industries before she spent some time in toy. So, you know, it depends on what channel you're going for. So if you're talking to a detail partner, it's a shorter lead time. They can really cut into product at any point. It's um, we're talking to a retail partner. It depends on the channel, but typically most food, drug, mass Natural sort of like the larger chains, they have regularly sort of annual or biannual resets and times when they bring new products in and so you're gonna want to talk to him about a year in advance, Wow.

00:29:07 So if you were looking, you know, we're having conversations, we have been and will continue be having conversations for 20, retail expansion now and some retailers have already made their decision, some are making them so we'll continue the same goes prestige. But the smaller the retailer, um, the more flexible they are with credo at the time, I don't believe they still kind of adhere to a very rigid reset schedule. They own their stores and their store formats are smaller and they have more flexibility. Now, they probably have schedules in there. But it's not, the, my guess is it's not as regimented as like a target or whole foods got it. But if you're having to have these conversations a year in advance, does that mean your product is 100% finished? Or is it kind of like they're buying into the idea and it's like almost finished and like the packaging hasn't been done because where I'm getting confused is like if it's a whole year before launch, but the product is already finished and maybe you'll have access to, you know, your first order, say three months later or six months later, but then you're wanting to launch, which is a year later.

00:30:13 How does that work? Right. Or like if you have all the products ready to go and it's a year later, like what you're sitting on it for a year, That would be tough. It really depends on the retail channel and the retailer specifically. So in the example of credo, you know, we talked to them two months before we launched. They love the product or maybe a few months before we launched and they don't have these really strict long lead retail schedules if you wanted to talk to a whole foods as a launch partner or, you know, or Target or CVS or another really kind of larger scale food, drug, mass channel partner, those are very kind of regimented and also truth be told they're going to want to see some in in market traction, so you're probably not having those conversations proceed. There are, I know of brands who have launched first with a partner like that and so they had to, yes, pitch the idea, but I think that's a situation where you're also actually going to want to be well capitalized going into it. So you're going to have raised a pre seed round, you're going to be launching sort of, you know, it's a totally different launch plan, retail is amazing for building awareness.

00:31:17 Um, you get that billboard effect on shelf, you know, you don't have to drive the traffic necessarily, but you have to sell through and you have to build brand awareness outside of the retailer to help deliver that sales velocity and then really importantly, you have to have a good system of calendar of trade promotions doesn't always have to be a discount, but involvement in the whatever the retail over the retailer engages there shopper to make sure your product standing out on shelf, so, you know, different channels will require different things and, but all of it, there's a lot of investment and then the pay cycles are tough like they're going to pay you you know you're gonna send them product