Today we are learning from Brianna Bitton, Founder of Flo, the first ever PMS gummy vitamin.
We’re chatting about investment, we are chatting about Tiktok and what she would have done earlier in the biz if she were to start again tomorrow.
If you’ve missed the memo, we’re giving away $1000 to small biz owners at the moment in partnership with flowium, head to fsc.com/1000-cash-giveaway to get in the mix and send it to the entrepreneurs in your life!
Lets get into it, this is Brianna for female startup club
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
I'm Brianna Bitton. I'm the Co Founder of FLO, vitamin and Flow is the first ever PMS gummy vitamin. Uh we've been around for a few years now and we're constantly evolving and now kind of transitioning into a company called O positive, that's going to have quite a few other vitamins for the female wellness space. Oh I love that, that's exciting. We're definitely going to have to wrap back into that because we're growing and expanding. Cool, well let's go back to the very beginning, pre starting flow and where you're kind of entrepreneurial spirit and story actually begins. So my entrepreneurial story is really credited, my parents um it goes back to childhood um both of my parents are entrepreneurs, my dad is an architect and interior designer and I also followed in his footsteps um doing that before flow and and still continuing that business wow and my mom is an inventor and she has um dozens of patents of very fun ideas, she patented the toy on the tube of hand soap to encourage my brother and I to wash our hands and we're a little shut up.
00:06:33 No way, that's so cool. Yes and she licensed her idea to Colgate Palmolive and they made a whole line of her so oh my God, I was just raised by these two incredibly creative loving humans who who would just kind of really encourage bobby my brother and I um to just dream big and um and kind of follow our dreams and whatever we wanted, they were really into um helping us flourish and that in that regard. So the entrepreneurial spirit really starts from there and um the family dinner table, we would have family dinner every single night before of us, it was like very important that we all have that mealtime together and would discuss work in school and ideas and so um I really attribute that to uh the entrepreneurial spirit that my brother and I have.
00:07:35 That is so cool. What a beautiful story. We have to get your mom on the show. Oh my gosh! She would adore you, she would love that. Yet she's incredible. Did flow start around the dinner table, how did you get the idea? You know what it actually it actually did. Um so bobby my brother, he was he's my co founder, so he and our ceo um so he is uh an entrepreneurial business mind, he's just brilliant in that regard. He went to school for entrepreneurship, he um is just really amazing with a business mind and so he was working as a director of marketing at baby company for baby products and he um was really interested in the vitamin and supplement space, he saw all of these companies and what people were doing and he's very helped focus and was super interested in it and we were talking about how that might be something that he wants, might want to create in the future around the dinner table and my mom and I were posing the question of just like what could it be right, like what could decide him and be and I was like you know there's, I've never heard of anything for piano and period and I, that was something I struggled with something my mom struggled with and the men are currently, we're very aware because of the house crazy.
00:09:13 We got during that time of the month. So they were like, oh wow, that's a good question. And I also am not a pill taker. I really don't like taking pills just like not fun for me. And I love making things more enjoyable. So we came up with the idea to make a PMS gummy vitamin. We researched all the ingredients to make that happen and honestly, you know, there are a lot out there. There are, you know where so many herbs and botanicals that have been used for thousands of years to help women with these symptoms but they weren't really, at least I didn't know about them. They weren't really known and they weren't really readily available and in all in one package so you could go to whole foods and get cast very and dong quai and you know all of the things that are in flow and take them individually. But we wanted to put them in a really fun, delicious, convenient package. So we researched that.
00:10:14 I love it. Yeah. And uh, went to the scientists to help us out. Oh my God, that's so cool. I loved it when you have these kind of conversations that lead to a business idea when you're kind of like, you know, you have no like understanding that this moment is going to lead to this other moment which essentially creates a business and changes the course of your life. But it's like such an impactful moment to have had that conversation and where it flowed onto I guess you would say. Yeah, I love that. It's so cool. No 100%. It's crazy. Yeah, it's really cool. It just shows how having conversations with family and friends is so important and talking about your ideas and bouncing things off of each other can result in such incredible things like the power of language essentially. So it didn't really exist on the market, why didn't exist? Was there any challenges that you had to overcome or it just people had attempted and it didn't didn't work.
00:11:21 Um Yes, so we went through a lot of challenges. We went through about two years of R. & D. and production trying to put this together because what we discovered is the ingredients of flow taste terrible. They're like herbs and botanical and they were not delicious and the whole, our whole premise was creating a delicious gummy vitamins. So it was very challenging. Our first flow samples were like black and like like tasted like dirt and we're like oh my goodness, I'm gonna take a while. So we worked with these amazing nutraceutical scientists to, we just do iteration after iteration and we adjusted the dosages and the milligrams of specific ingredients. And we finally ended up with our proprietary blends and knock on wood has been the magic potion and has, has worked beautifully and tastes great.
00:12:29 So there were a lot of challenges um just finding that balance of um ingredients and flavor, because then, you know, we tried to add a little bit more, we're like, oh we'll add some more strawberry flavor but then not started. So it was all a very meticulous balancing act, finding that, finding that perfect potion. Mm What I find interesting is like in this process of R and D. You obviously don't set out thinking that you're going to pursue this for two years before you reach a formulation right, it's such a long time, it's really expensive to develop a product and you also have to have this crazy conviction and perseverance that you will get to the perfect product and why I'm talking about this is because and I forgot to mention this before we started recording, but I'm actually developing a non alcoholic wine company at the moment. And so I'm experiencing how long this stuff takes and like the the negative sides of formulating from scratch and trying to get to this perfect thing when it's such a struggle, right?
00:13:38 So in your circumstances and in your story, when you set out to develop the brand, Are you able to share a little bit about how much money you thought you needed to allocate to basically get the product to market versus like what you actually needed to kind of invest too fund the business in the beginning for that two years and how you were financing the brand in the beginning. So we we really didn't know at the beginning, we had no idea, you know, how how it would turn out? Um We talked to, you know, are our manufacturers a few? We were trying out and you know, they did require a deposit. Usually that what I remember the deposit included multiple samples and iterations. They were, it was to go through and out of research and development process. So those, you know, signing on with them and agreeing to, you know, go through this process cross X amount.
00:14:42 We we were self funded at first just through our savings and our family and yeah, after. And it just kind of got to a point where we were kind of deep in it were already like, all right, so we can't turn back now. You can't, yeah, you know, you can't turn back now. You know, we've gotten so far but really also are our manufacturers worked with us really closely and we're very open to different iterations. Like they realized that like, okay, let's do another sample, let's do another sample. So we were lucky to have um some good partners to that that wanted us to succeed and we're open to having us continue on to get more samples. So that was next. That is nice yeah for your industry as like vitamins as a whole, what are the M. O. Q. S. Like because we're finding like from our perspective that the minimum waters are like you know you can't just get a few 100 kind of thing, you have to order like thousands and thousands and thousands of bottles which is obviously like really interesting because they're even like you know you can't do like a sample, a few 100 samples like just not possible.
00:16:00 So it's like this really big commitment and I'm wondering how for your industry, what it was like for you and what you thought about it and how you approached your thinking it was similar. It was I think in our think in our initial order it was by pounds, it's like actual pounds of gummies alright, which was interesting and we had to have a lot of faith and and commit, the minimum orders were really large and I don't remember exactly how many pounds but it was a bit overwhelming and we had to just kind of have a lot of faith and be like okay we believe in this product and we believe in ourselves and our ability to make this a thing. And we bought the initial the initial stock, the initial order and then just kind of hope for the best and luckily thank goodness it ended up working out and then we ended up selling out and we had to then because the lead times are also an issue, you know, so with the gun in manufacturing to, when we started it also right now it's a very popular way to make vitamins at the moment.
00:17:20 And uh, there cute and you got to make sure that you have your pos in and your orders in so that you don't lose stocks. So, um, that's also yeah, important too. So you want to obviously you want to be cautious, right? And you want to make sure that you do go through all your stock, but you also to want to have, like in case it goes amazing and great, you want to make sure that you have enough for your customers. So it's a balancing act of 12 Submit those pos and 1, 2. Okay, Like let's see if we get through this stock. So we had to have a lot of faith and it's kind of a little um, a learning experience and as you get more of a relationship with the manufacturer, um, you kind of fall into a rhythm, but at the beginning it's, it's very interesting to try to figure out that balance of like, okay, like when do you have, you don't want too much, but you don't want to little so totally interesting, Gosh, all these things that I'm about to experience and it's just so interesting to hear other people's perspectives and not having that leap of faith.
00:18:30 Like you say, I want to talk about your launch, you just said you sold out at some point. That's really, really exciting and very cool. I'd love to understand what you were doing in the lead up to launch with your marketing, how you were getting the word out there and how you were creating that buzz and initial traction with your first batch of customers. Yes. So um, with our launch and marketing, it was really just bobby and I bobby, we, we call it like our slow video bobby made this really amazing cool poppy video that said like PMS effing sucks and that was gonna be like our ad, we really did a lot of it just asked the, you know, bobby and I were living together at the time. So we were doing a lot of it at home in his office and as far as Buzz prior to launch it was really family and friends and just kind of telling everybody what we were doing, asking our friends to spread the word. We had like a, all of our girlfriends come over and try the gummy and had like a little um, a little like party kind of thing and gave everybody bottles just yeah, I just really wanted to start creating that community of women who wept well.
00:19:51 Um, and then very soon after launch, our reviews started coming in and that has been by far the most impactful and phenomenal experience of all of this. So it's as soon as the review started coming in of women beyond our friends and family and myself feeling the effects of this vitamin and, and helping their daily life. That's really where the traction and um, the word was spreading and we were using, you know, were, we were able to use those reviews as ads and um really just create this community of women who who loves flow. So that's kind of how the ball started rolling. Yeah, Hey, it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the FSC show.
00:20:56 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 mix. From today onwards. 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.
00:22:14 That's female startup club dot com forward slash A. D. S and booking a call today. Mhm. Yeah. Oh I love it. What a mouth is so key in a brand and and getting those reviews and testimonials to be able to add, you know, social proof to your website and your channels, but also to, you know, show other people that like your product is good and it's worth buying even I also think like reviews that aren't the best reviews like and you're able to use those as like an opportunity to provide excellent service and take it on board and kind of like highlight those as well is something that I always see really interesting. I mean when I was reading your reviews, they're all just amazing. But I've seen other companies do that where they've turned a negative review into like something amazing. It's just so important to have that built into your strategy, I guess you would say after that early kind of traction that you were getting from the reviews? How did you kind of really gain that crazy momentum?
00:23:20 And what were you starting to allocate budget towards? And what was really important for you in marketing to kind of grow? So as far it's really still to this day holds true. Um, and it's facebook ads, facebook and instagram ad. Uh, and that is really the meat and potatoes of our marketing and worked so far really well for us, the social marketing has been where we dedicate most of our budget and also what is really, really seem to have an impact and a lot of people who I talked to or that I meet, they're like, oh, I've seen that, I've seen that on facebook, I've seen that on instagram. So whether it is resulting in a purchase or awareness, um, it does seem to really be working for us and that's where we dedicate majority of our budget too. I was looking at your Tic Tac channel and literally tackling at the videos where you have someone going up and asking guys like it was a period and like, oh my God, there was another really funny one that I can go the, getting them to do the period simulator craps thing on the guy?
00:24:34 Oh my God, this is so funny. Talk to me about your Tiktok and you know, what kind of impact are you seeing with that now? And is it something that you're putting a lot of focus on? So we, we are, but we're also kind of like experimenting. So Tiktok obviously, you know, this incredible new medium that popped up in the left. Uh, it's been around for a while, but the popularity has, you know, pop doesn't this past year. I personally, I was like, what is this? Like avoided getting it for so long and now I'm fully addicted. Like it's hilarious how that happens, you know, and so we acknowledge that it would be important for us to be on Tiktok pretty quickly after, you know, we saw this going on. And I have a really talented friend Chloe who is running it for us and she um and all of us have been kind of talking about how can we make, how can we make fun impact? Right. So every men straighter, Every girl has a period and is affected by it, right?
00:25:43 And it's like, it's not fun. So it's something that is so relatable for all of us. Um and Tiktok is such a place where you see all these relatable things. So like that's what makes you giggle and that's what makes you office seeing me is like, oh my God, ha ha, like that joker, this dance or whatever. It's like a funny relatable thing. So what we really wanted to showcase was that, you know, we're all going through this together and slow is the way that we can, you know, all kind of the United. Um and also, I think, you know, there there is like a funny educational side to this as well. So with our, you know, our girl at in venice Beach, going around talking to these guys, it's just kind of like sir, like you're gonna need to educate yourself a little bit more. So kind of just shining a light on like how little people know about menstruation and periods and PMS and how one of my passions behind flow is kind of bringing a topic that has been so taboo previously to the forefront of, you know, our lives and making it not a big deal to talk about.
00:26:57 I was so growing up, oh my gosh! Like, so like nobody could know anything that was going through, I was like absolutely not. And and now you like shout it from the rooftops. Yeah. Uh yeah, it makes them feel terrible today. Not anymore, but like, you know what I mean? I know what you mean. So it's just funny like is this, I love it. Yeah. So I think with Tiktok, it's a great opportunity to, to talk about periods in piana, bring it to the forefront of the conversation and have a little time with it and be silly and relatable and fun, you know, totally, totally, yeah, I really like the approach that you're taking and I can see why, like it would be a great, it's a great channel because it is funny, but it is educational, which is, you know, the key recipe for, for Tiktok basically, totally. Yeah, so we're just, we're waiting for our viral, we'll see if we go, I mean you've had some, you've had some good ones, we've had some good ones, we've had some good ones, we'll see, we'll see, you gotta keep at it.
00:28:07 Yeah, I always love to ask this question. If you were to start the same business exactly the same tomorrow, what would you have done differently in the beginning? I e what would you have spent more money on sooner and what would you have not wasted the money on and not spent that money question. We have an amazing with an amazing team and I think, and it was just family for a while, so I think that we probably would have spent money on hiring sooner than we did, bringing on some great, I mean the people that we have are so magnificent. Um our team is just amazing. So I think that maybe that would be one thing what roles. Um so our first hire was Bmo and that was martin and he is a genius. He's fantastic. So I think that was, he was imperative in our growth.
00:29:11 I mean absolutely. Um superhero and I think that having his guidance sooner um could have been beneficial, but everything ended up working out great. Um But I think that um we try to do a lot on our own previously and so maybe maybe that would be something that we would invest in sooner. We've been pretty lean with what we've, you know like product is obviously important to invest in um And people products and people are number one, number two, I mean we, I don't know, maybe an office space, everybody's working from home now now we do have one but we got one pretty early on just like a wee worker or not. We work um What was it? I forgot what it was a coach airspace. Yeah a co sharing space and you know like as amazing as that is to have everybody is working from home now everybody has them, it feels like being in an office um might be less necessary so maybe wouldn't have done that so soon kind of allocated those funds to other things.
00:30:22 But especially if you don't work from like for people who actually go out and get a proper like stand alone office rent a full space, that's not part of a co share those costs can really add up. Even furnishing an office is pretty nuts. Yeah, like especially when you're considering all the kind of like gear like laptop computer or this kind of thing and then you know, desk seat, everything else that goes with it and then the space it's a lot. It's a really good one actually to think about and to really consider when you need to do that as an interior designer. I'm like yeah that can add up like oh you're so right like chairs, desks, tables, everything like I did that for sure. Absolutely. You said that you know you've got a great team now you're starting to move into a positive and building this new phase or a different phase of the business. Can you tell us a little bit about where the business is today, what it looks like and what fun things you want to shout about? Including positive?
00:31:25 Yes. Um so slow slow you know is our baby our first product and um where we really began um and then shortly after flow we realized that we are creating this community of women who cares about their health and that there were so many other issues that we wanted to address that women go through on a daily basis. Um not just PMS and period. So pretty soon after slow we realized that we wanted to create some other products pretty soon and we created a positive, so positive is flows parent company and it's going to house And already has. So we at the moment we have four or 3 products almost four. So we have flow, we have G. T. F. O. Which is our immunity gummy. Uh and that was really impacted by the pandemic. You know bobby and I were quarantining together and we don't have the strongest immune systems and you know it's scary out there.
00:32:34 We were we wanted to create something to give people especially going back out into the world the confidence to just boost their immunity a little bit. So um G. T. F. O. And also like germs like G. C. F. O. You know so um and all of our um one of our fun branding things is all of our vitamins and in the letter O. And R gummies are ring shaped their O. Shape. So O. Positive. We have slow we have G. T. F. O. And then a few weeks ago we just launched go go. Which is our cyber gummy um that promotes healthy digestion and gets you on track because that is a issue among so many women I know as well. I feel like so many, all of my friends and I have digestion issues and it's a constant battle so we have that and then we are we'll be launching um another vitamin we're all really excited about at the end of october I believe.
00:33:36 Uh So exciting. So exciting, congratulations thank you. How do you um like how do you actually determine what products you're going to do next because obviously you have the idea you think this is really great for me. But how do you then kind of validate your idea to determine whether it's worth it outside of you and your immediate circle. Yeah so we have, we have a lot of ideas and a lot of vitamins that we want to do that are all really important to us. What's determined kind of what we have been releasing next to be honest is um is lead time and timeline. So on some vitamins takes just longer to make than others, whether it be getting the consistency rights or the blend is more complicated than another. The kind of trajectory of our pipeline has been kind of based on when we can have the the product ready.
00:34:41 Got it, got it. How long does it take to develop like gummies? It depends, it really depends on on what we've been working with. So flow was such an innovative never been done before. Products that it took two years. Our immunity gummy we were able to get done a little quicker just because um it was all vitamins um instead of using the botanicals, the botanicals and herbs were a little harder to deal with. Right? And also just the relationships with our manufacturers has just become a little bit more secure and we've been able to kind of put those pos in a little quicker. So so yeah, it's kind of so cool. Yeah, lots of different timelines. Yes, lots of different timelines and lots of different things in the works which is so fun because you know, the the essence of what we're doing is just creating a fun, enjoyable healthy life for women and we want to give them the tools to make that happen.
00:35:51 So yeah, really, it's really fun and exciting and also delicious taste testing all with them too. I bet it sounds exciting. What is your key piece of advice or tips for entrepreneurs who have that big idea but are a bit earlier on in the journey than you are number one tip. I really think that that dedication is key and and having faith in yourself and also not being afraid to ask for help, um but I was like a lot and I'm just sitting out things, but I think being dedicated is really um imperative. I tend to, my brother is way better at that than me, he will have an idea and he will sit down and not stop thinking about it, dreaming about it, making spreadsheets about it for, until it comes to fruition for me, I can have an idea like, oh, that's a good idea, and I'm like kind of go all of my day, it's fleeting, and he's like, wait, that's a good idea, Yes, he's like, that was a good idea, you got to like, you've got to get on that, and I'm like, okay, so he pushes me a little bit more to, to be the person that, that I wish I could be, but he has that dedication and when he has that idea, he knows it's a good idea, he won't stop until he's got a full death of a presentation and he knows exactly how it's going to get done and I admire that so much in him.
00:37:27 And I think that that is something that made flow and o positive possible was the fact that we had this dinner conversation and it wasn't just like, oh that's a good idea and like moved on with our night and like he actually was like, he didn't let any of us forget about it. He wanted to make this happen and believed in it and here we are. Fast forward to today. Crazy. Yeah. So I think that is huge and I think also asking for help is huge to you know, we had the family of four buttons were like all hands on deck for you know, until our team really developed and you know, we weren't afraid to ask our friends to model in our first photo shoot and you know, just people are so, it will be so excited to see what you're doing and to get behind you and so don't be afraid to ask for that support and that helps.
00:38:30 Yes, absolutely leverage the people around you who love you and want to see you succeed for sure. At the end of every episode, I asked a series of six quick questions. So I'm going to get started question number one, some of them we might have already covered, but I asked them all the same. So question number one is what's your, why, why are you doing what you're doing? Um, I think as, as corny as it sounds, uh, to try to, to try to make the world a better place, I guess, to help, to help people everywhere. It's really special to, to have that impact, to help people. I think that's why I love it so true though, to be able to leave this world knowing that you tried to make the world a better place and you did something that fulfilled on that mission. It's amazing. I love it. Question #2 is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop number one marketing moment? Trying to think if there's one moment in particular, what comes to mind me is our reviews by far and capitalizing on those and really just like seeing the community that we've created and like, oh my God, this is so cool and sharing that any work with influences that did do something really cool.