The woman who invented the world’s first flushable pregnancy, Lia's Founder Bethany Edwards
Today I’m joined by the Founder and inventor of the world’s first flushable pregnancy test, Bethany Edwards.
Lia is an earth-friendly healthcare company on a mission to revolutionize reproductive health through the development of innovative products. The company's first product, which came to market just a couple of months ago, is the FDA cleared Lia pregnancy test – which is changing the historically wasteful product into a plastic-free, flushable, biodegradable form.
We’re covering some key insights into the timeline it takes to develop an idea like this that doesn’t exist in the world, spoiler alert: it’s a 6-9 year journey and the kind of money you actually need to fund the research and development piece.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Speaker2: Hi, thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here.
Speaker1: I am so excited to be here chatting with you, inventors, genius, slash all the things, I'm just so excited. Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us what your business is?
Speaker2: Sure, I am Bethany Edwards, and I am the co-founder and CEO of Lia Diagnostics, and we have the first FDA cleared one hundred percent biodegradable plastic free pregnancy tests. Game changing. And we're really. Yes, yes, we like to think of it as a game changer as well. We're really, really excited about the ability to be able to create sustainable products in women's health. And this is this is our first major forte into that. And we're really excited about the launch of the release of it.
Speaker1: Oh, gosh, I've been reading all the press and I'm just blown away. I'm super excited to to get in and understand, you know, all the things around R&D, research and development funding, how the launch has gone, what's next. But just a simple question to start. What is behind the name Leah?
Speaker2: I love this question. So it was very purposeful that we chose something that sounded different because it wasn't clinical. We wanted to be really welcoming. Leah, is there good news? And Greek? It's the last three letters and family in Spanish. It's short. It's memorable. I wanted it to sound like your aunt or your best friend or somebody you could really confide in. So very purposeful in the name prior to working on the research for. I spent about 10 years in advertising and marketing, so I have this kind of interesting creative turn. Technical founder and the brand piece has always been something that I've been really passionate about as well as, you know, the product innovation and the technical aspects in the material science innovation piece of it as well. So, yeah, I mean, the name was very purposeful and we just we really wanted it to be different than what was then what was out there. Being part of this is about starting a conversation that's more open and more honest in the pregnancy space and making sure that it was a name and bringing this human element to it was really important. And that's where the name comes from.
Speaker1: Genius. Did you actually come up with that yourself or did you work with a partner agency who kind of came back to you with ideas based on a brief?
Speaker2: No, came up with that myself.
Speaker1: Oh, look at you.
Speaker2: Yeah, yeah, and you're amazing. It was presented as Lya all the way back during my research while I was at university. So we came up with it then and presented it as we are all the way back then. From the very early days, the logo has much improved since whenever whenever I first presented it, we did have some help on getting the logo to the place that it's at now since there was an agency that was involved in that. But the color green was very purposeful. So obviously it has the ability to to present sustainability. But everybody else in the space, it's pink, purple and blue. You walk down the aisle and it's just those colors and a lot of, you know, happy babies on on some of the boxes. And even the packaging design has been very intentional, making it all green. We got a little expletive on it.
Speaker1: So, yeah, let's see it.
Speaker2: We're getting into this already. In the beginning, I wasn't I wasn't planning this already of
Speaker1: The love this for the YouTube vibe. For anyone listening, you should check this out on YouTube.
Speaker2: And this is all I see. It's just a little like expletive. It's all there. And then the only place that it says pregnancy test is on this little tear tab. I'm very discreet exactly when you tear the club off and it says you got this. I live here and then it's P C fluff and over ninety nine percent accurate, zero percent plastic, one hundred percent your business and really taking advantage of just kind of different colors, different messaging in the space. We feel it's just really important. And in really making a statement and opening up this dialogue in a very antiquated category that has continued to look one way, not only from the products themselves, they've been the same stiff plastic stick for over 30 years. So that means that if you're born in the 1980s, your mom's positive pregnancy test is absolutely still in a landfill somewhere. Yeah, I let that sink in just for a minute. Isn't it kind of a wild.
Speaker1: That's so wild, that's so
Speaker2: Yeah, so it's over like two million pounds of plastic. Oh, my God. Generated. Yes. Oh, just in the US from pregnancy test to two million pounds of plastic waste in the US from pregnancy test, which is enough to stretch from here to the International Space Station and back about seven times.
Speaker1: Yeah, lovely, that's pleasant. Good stuff. It's great for the planet. Yeah, great. I want to go back to where your entrepreneurial story actually began and what got you thinking about this and that light bulb moment of going in and disrupting this industry that hasn't had any innovation in the last 30 years.
Speaker2: Great question. You know, the very initial inspiration came from a quote from Richard Fry, who was speaking on behalf of the Industrial Design Societies for America. And he had this quote that basically said something like, we shouldn't be designing products to be recycled. We should be designing them in a way that they can be completely disposable. And this idea of just temporality and the ability to use new materials that allow products to go right back into nature or to be to actually be biodegradable. Right. So this idea of temporality in the fact that you single Single-Use diagnostics, like plastic pregnancy tests, are only used for a few minutes. But everything that they're made out of, plastics, glass, fibers, nitrocellulose, none of these things biodegrade. And so there's there's a tension point between the product lifecycle and the materials that are being used. And so that was the first very first insight piece. And it really, really struck me to design in that kind of context. And really then it becomes about selectively choosing materials then that can meet the criteria, peace around being able to be biodegradable. And the other big, big piece was recognizing that, again, there have been no innovation in this category for over 30 years and that there's an unmet need around privacy. Over ninety two percent of women value privacy when taking the pregnancy test, regardless of whether they're hopeful negatives or positives.
Speaker2: And so what could we do with new materials that would allow the product to be more environmentally friendly, but would additionally add and provide privacy values? And so that really got us into this idea of let's design with paper, not plastic. And if we can be really smart about the materials that we're choosing, that will allow us to design a test that is also flushable, which provides the additional level of privacy so that nobody is seeing these tests in the trash. We spoke with hundreds of women, one on one interviews and surveys. And, you know, the lengths that people sometimes go to to to dispose of these and dispose of them in private ways is is really, really interesting. And people talking about wrapping them in tin foil and disposing them in public dumpsters, like you name it. Right. And again, it's for a variety of reasons for people who are also struggling to get pregnant. And seeing a bunch of Omeje pregnancy test pile up in the trash is a heart wrenching reminder of that. And so to create something that provides this added benefit of privacy also allows more sustainability and is able to be plastic free, really gets into a unique, true new newness. And it's truly innovative in terms of in terms of the product.
Speaker1: Hmm, absolutely. Gosh, it's so cool, I'm I'm in awe of what you're doing for women and just for the category overall. I want to ask you, though, just to go one layer deeper. When you are having this, you you saw the quote. You were kind of having these thoughts, but what was the actual aha. Moment when you were like, it's going to be a pregnancy test? Like, that's what we're starting.
Speaker2: You cut out a little bit in that question that I think you were asking. What was the aha moment as it relates specifically to pregnancy tests? Is that was that sort of what you were asking? Yeah, yeah, so so was the understanding and inspiration around temporality and using the materials, the other really big piece is just the simple fact that I've always kind of felt that the relationship between a woman and her health was secret and private. And there shouldn't be any shame in that context, especially when it comes to reproductive health. So, you know, who hasn't hidden some of these in the trash before? And the ability to provide women with a solution there is just really empowering. So, I mean, the other piece of the why there was, look, I was really inspired by the material science piece of this and the ability to eliminate plastic, but also what it meant from on, from just female empowerment and a standpoint on making such a statement on such an object that elicits so much conversation. And it's such a unique intersection of women's health. And it's just it's a very powerful object. And that was a piece of this. It was also a really, really potent to be able to shake that up and make a statement and offer something different in the space and try to also provide a product that would allow people to not shy away from testing. Right. I mean, I think there's there's that, too. There's people who wait to take pregnancy tests or don't want to take them because of just the the shame of purchasing them, you know, the concerns around somebody finding them in the disposal process. And so the ability to really change that up and service is a solution that provides this kind of citizen empowerment back to women like you get to share, you know, share your news, share your joy, share your relief or keep it private. Right. I mean, I think that's that's a really powerful piece of this. And so we've really zeroed in on on pregnancy tests to be able to tackle that first.
Speaker1: Got it. And so. When you've kind of landed on pregnancy tests, how do you actually start developing that product, like who is the first person you turn to outside of? Well, I guess, you know, there's a lot of research on the Internet in this kind of thing. But like what is actually the next step to inventing this product that totally doesn't exist and seems like a really huge challenge to tackle.
Speaker2: Yeah, and it was a challenge to tackle. First of all, I think also I was so inspired by wanting to do it and make it a reality. This idea of being able to take an idea and make it a tangible reality was just such a powerful driver. I think in general, curiosity is a really powerful motivating tool. And so some of it was just the sheer joy. We really want to solve this and we want to make this a reality that pushed it along and kept it going. Know there were plenty of things that we didn't know, but it was about searching for that information and connecting the dots in different ways. So honestly, there was a lot of academic journals that I read not having been a material scientist prior to working on this, I had to gain all of that knowledge and kind of gain it really quickly. And so a lot of it involved learning by doing and reading a lot, along with a lot of academic journals in the space, you know, was inspired originally also by like George Whitesides and what he was doing with paper microfluidics and reading patents and knowing that if we were going to truly deliver on a product that was water disposable and biodegradable, that we would have to work within a really small subset of materials.
Speaker2: So it would either need to be plant based, mineral based or protein based. And those things would would be what would need to be part of the solution. Otherwise, you're not going to meet some of those other criteria pieces in terms of making it biodegradable. And water is, first of all. So a lot of reading and then I often talk sometimes when people ask me a little bit about this on. I think the entrepreneurship journey is a little I think it a little bit like this video game that I used to play in room as a kid Called Quest, and you had to go around and talk to a person and they would give you advice or they would give you a little like trinkets that you would then use to solve another problem and you'd work your way through the gate into this thing. And it was a lot of that, especially in the early days.
Speaker1: Follow the breadcrumbs.
Speaker2: Yeah, yeah. We we went around and entered into every business plan and pitch competition that we could find, and I was able to cobble together enough winnings and money from that to put it all back into product development work. And I knew to increase your network. Right. And we got into the dream and accelerated program and that person in contact with people. And then we contacted somebody who made a piece of equipment that we knew was kind of relevant and that got us to a chemist. And like, you know, it's it's weird and serendipitous a little bit when you look back at it. But I think it all stemmed from just the strong, strong desire to make this a reality and knowing that we had early proof of concept work, too. Right. I mean, we knew that the antibodies could work on this substrate. We knew that there was enough early proof of concept work there, that they kind of showed progress enough to kind of continue to push through it. But there was a lot of unique development work and trying to then take it from like a looks like model, works like model and put them together. But that was that was a lot more challenging than maybe the maybe we even realized the early days and then, you know. Lots of learning from there. I mean, for sure.
Speaker1: That's so interesting, I have a few questions following on from a few things you've said. First of all, what year are we talking here? Like, is this back in twenty fifteen when you actually kind of created the.
Speaker2: Yeah, yeah.
Speaker1: It's a long time ago, like six years we're talking.
Speaker2: Yeah. And it was at that point it was like I mean literally think like sketch on a piece of paper like kind of kind of thing like.
Speaker1: Yeah it's a concept. It's an idea.
Speaker2: Exactly. I had this like terrible looks like a prototype that I would go around and do you know, pitches with or whatever. Right. But it was very much idea and stage. We had early proven concept work, but it was kind of a sketch on a piece of paper. Later, later I realized that, you know, it typically takes med devices six to nine years to go from concept to commercialization. That's very, very typical. And so we trending kind of right on the in retrospect in and so there's the initial kind of concept work, then there's the initial development work. Then there's having the regulatory aspect and getting it through the FDA. And then there's manufacturing design for manufacturing. And how do you scale that? So there's all these kind of like very distinct chunks along the way. That and when you're making when you're making a product that's never existed before. So our intellectual property is really strong because nobody makes diagnostic tests like this. But that also means nobody makes diagnostic tests. So that means we have to create it. And that meant like every aspect of it, that meant designing a cost of developing and designing a custom way to dispense the chemistry onto our substrate because all existing methods of doing that. Are designed to work on plastic so they don't work on art. That then developing this this code and it required you to myself, my co-founder, mixing random things together in our kitchens, like stirring them around and baking things in our oven so people don't often think about that. It wasn't like just making a shampoo or something. Right. Like there's there's great things that you can do there with new formulations, but you can plug it into existing manufacturing chains and existing supply chains. With what we've done here, none of the supply chain is really the same except for some of the chemistry and none of these manufacturing process processes existed to involved custom equipment. I would do the early prototypes. We really cranking them out with like hand in bossiest that. I had originally bought my wedding invitations. Right. So you can think about that like.
Speaker1: That's very scrappy, very sloppy.
Speaker2: It's a long tail of development you got like your basic research and your applied research and then like kind of cutting over that chasm of into commercialization.
Speaker1: Do you think if you had of, like, known that it was going to be six years, in hindsight, would you have done it?
Speaker2: I would have done things a lot differently. I will say that I would have raised money differently. But at the same time, you know, I think about this a lot at the same time, like. I was a first time entrepreneur man with an idea in a relatively complex idea, I don't know if we would have been able to go out day one and raise five million dollars because we didn't have a track record. So we had to do it in small bits and and prove ourselves along the way. But that continually made that harder because you're splitting time between doing development work and raising money and building the marketing or marketing assets have all really primarily been built in-house photography, the packaging design you design. Right. So so a lot of different moving pieces. But yeah, I mean, had I known that day one, we would have we would have planned a little bit differently. I think I think there's early optimism in in thinking that things are going to move fast. And when you're creating stuff from scratch like this, it's just there's there's a lot to do. And, you know, I also think if I would have told some of some of the very early investors like Hastin take six years, like, is that excited? I'm not sure. So it's. It's definitely lessons learned on it, but I don't know if even having gotten that information in the beginning, we could have planned a little bit differently, I think, for sure. But I don't know if we would have been able to necessarily solve all of those things, because I'm not sure we would have really had all of the resources from day one.
Speaker1: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. I just have two more questions kind of linked to this early phase before we sort of jump in towards more recent years and working into the marketing part of this talk, the first question is, when you were going to these pitch competitions with this, you know, out their idea, this sketch on a piece of paper, was it overwhelmingly positive and easy to get people on board? Or were people like, what the hell is this? This is not possible. What was the reaction and sentiment of the idea?
Speaker2: Yeah, I think a lot of people could understand it pretty easily. And having had some of the marketing background, I also think I was able to find a way to talk about it in a very simplistic way, which I do think is important. So to be able to be like are the flushable biodegradable pregnancy tests. Right? Like just like snappy quick. Like people are like, oh, flushable. OK, I get it. Why why does that not exist? Right. So I do think people were able to, for the most part, wrap their heads around the concept pretty quickly. The thing that we would sometimes run into is, well, why does somebody want that? Right. And so that that would be when you would kind of explain some of the privacy stuff as as rationale for for the flushable element or I mean, to be honest, too, I think one of my pitches in the early days started with like a montage of video or photos from people finding pregnancy tests in the trash. Right. So this idea of like you won't find our tests in the trash and the fact that it has been such a plot of so many sitcoms and movies like people finding pregnancy plus in the trash so that people could it in the trash. Exactly. So people can wrap their heads around that pretty quickly. I think then the next the next piece was just kind of how is it going to be made? Right. But from a concept standpoint, I think for the most part, people were able to understand it pretty easily. And in part of it was also in the way that we were describing it. We we were able to just quickly be like, look, it's it's flushable. It's biodegradable. 0% plastic.
Speaker1: Easy language,
Speaker2: Easy language, I guess. Absolutely.
Speaker1: And during that time. All up, what was the kind of you said you were winning this money from competitions and pitches in that kind of thing, how much money, pre investment did you need to put into R&D to paint the picture of like, what are the costs involved in this?
Speaker2: Yeah, I mean, the bulk of you know, prior to this year, really, the bulk of all of the money really went to R&D and we weren't investing much in in marketing. The other piece of it is the expenses on intellectual property rights. So, you know, something like this really does. And we had some of the intellectual property protection. And so the expenses that come with that are also notable. So that was another big piece of it. Yeah. I mean, it was majority majority of of of the funds that we received over the past five years have really gone mostly to R&D and then I mean headcount just in general operating expenses. But it it's it's definitely been the bulk of the spend and it's time to be right. I mean, if we didn't have a product that that was that was a big piece of it. And it's and it's involved everything, from what I was mentioning before, kind of the material side and developing those proprietary coatings and then learning to scale them to large industrial equipment. Right. In the early days, we were just like putting the coatings on on these like 12 by 12 sheets of paper and then cutting them out. And now we're doing like 60 wide rolls like you rolls. But that puts a lot of learning. There's a lot of learning that goes into that. One of the things that I talk about is plastics have proliferated partially because they're now cheap and reliable.
Speaker2: But we forget that the first plastic Bakelite was invented like one hundred and fifteen years ago. So there's one hundred and fifteen years of learnings in the plastic industry on how to do that. Manufacturing, cheap, reliable and iterative and and make all of those improvements. And so when you're using new materials that are completely disrupting the manufacturing and the supply chain in these industries, you're taking on that burden of of that learning and that that R&D work and that investment that comes from. Basically learning new recipes in some ways, right, and in some ways, this is like learning new recipes and new techniques and I think people sometimes forget that. So there's this interesting kind of tension point between scalability and sustainability. And that's why when you're breaking the mold and completely disrupting these these manufacturing and supply chains, it does really require a lot of R&D to to really get it to commercialization and to get it through the regulatory involved, but also then get it to a point of scale, because that's where mass disruption really starts to occur, because you've got diffusion of innovation that at that point. So, yeah, I mean, anything on the material side, I mean, I do think it's the next industrial revolution, but it is a large chunk of investment in R&D.
Speaker1: Yeah, because it sounds like. I mean, I'm guessing it's ballpark like hundreds of thousands, if not a few million, that it would have taken in terms of pitch competitions and those, you know, early stage things that you were doing to get checks into the business. But it but my thought is that when you do those pitch competitions, it's like you get ten thousand here, five thousand here. And it just seems like a really big feat because I know when you raised institutional funding, I think that was more recently like in the last year or so. But I'm kind of wanting to know, like, how much does it cost Ballpark to do something like this? And it doesn't need to be like specifics, but like, what are we talking about here?
Speaker2: Yeah. So in the early days with the pitch winnings. Right. I mean I think we we would have brought in a non dilutive in pitch winnings and in getting into the dream and accelerator that came with a stipend, we also had some some small grants was probably two hundred three hundred thousand somewhere in that ballpark over the course of a couple of years. So probably was like 50 K here and then one hundred. And I mean in the early days probably got up to to close to two hundred to three hundred K. And I mean all of that though went back into initial product development. So myself and my co-founder were taking salaries initially, which was really hard. I mean it was really brutal. And that and that was just enough to get us to kind of the early proof of concept work to the point where, like, it was enough to really take angels. And get investment for for the next piece of it. Got it. Yeah, but I mean, that was kind of what we had to do, right? I mean,
Speaker1: Yeah, it's a lot of money. Like you've got to you've got to hustle to to make that happen. I want to kind of move into more recent times coming up to the end of last year. This year, you launched in March. What has been the launch plan and what has the reaction been like?
Speaker2: Yeah. Did I to show you this product?
Speaker1: Let's see the product, let's see the product you showed me the packaging, I want to see the product.
Speaker2: So this is what I love. Yeah, super thin, small. And this is a negative result. So it works like existing tests where there's just one more in for a negative and then two lines for a positive. Right. And then my co-founder did an amazing job with this whole, like, perimeter seal design. So I'm not sure if you can quite see it, but it's sort of inspired by, like, coffee filters. OK, fibers of the fibers pierced into themselves just with force. So they're not held it's not held together with glue that allows additional access points for the water. And then there's also additional perforations on the back that have been designed to allow it to break down to and then you pretty easily. You can then, you know, you can tear it apart here afterwards if you want to do that. I'm just showing you the inside of it because it's kind of fun. And this is the ASAY diagnostic component, again, all paper based plastic, and then these basically three pieces at that point. So we've really engineered it to be as few of pieces as possible and have these kind of, you know, like I said, unique perforations that are embedded throughout that allow the tests to separate a lot more easily. And this is one of my favorite parts. This is what's left of only a test after eight weeks and soil.
Speaker1: No way, shut up. That is crazy,
Speaker2: It's like dirt, it's just dirt. And so by 10 weeks, then we need the one hundred percent biodegradability claim and we've beaten the organic cotton. So, yeah, I just I love this woman. Makes me very proud.
Speaker1: So cool. Yes, totally. Wow. Holy moly. You deserve a clap.
Speaker2: You think we can have a more informed conversation now that you've seen what the product actually looks like?
Speaker1: Absolutely. So I was wanting to know about in the lead up to the launch what was happening and since the launch, which was in March, what the reaction has been or what the impact has been in this first month.
Speaker2: So one of the biggest things I've talked about this a little bit before was that finding a really strong contract manufacturer. So that's one of the that was one of the big things that we did leading up to launch, obviously, and being able to secure that partnership with them. You know, they do a global distribution for a variety of lateral flow diagnostic tests. So securing that partnership was pretty critical. And that that really kind of set us up for some of the launch. You know, we are still scaling some of that manufacturing. And so we've been really strategic about doing launch in a way that allows us to try to keep up with the scale of the manufacturing. So we've done it somewhat quietly. We wanted to get things up and running and get kind of all the kinks kind of worked out a little bit. We've we've invested some in marketing, but we haven't invested an extreme amount because we're really trying to match the contract manufacturers ramp with this, our marketing. So that's been what's been interesting and kind of strategic to to really kind of align both of those up simultaneously and. There's been there's been some great, great press and great buzz, so, I mean, I'm in the first
Speaker1: I mean, the press has been
Speaker2: In the first 48 hours that we had 20 million press impressions. We had a tick tock video, received over four million views. So there's there's been some some nice solid stuff.
Speaker1: There's been some wins there.
Speaker2: Yeah, there's been some wins there for sure. I mean, we are are lining up and gearing up for expansion of distribution. So moving beyond just our website to specialty online wholesalers, we also have some conversations with retailers in the works. But again, I mean, some of this is really strategically mapping, mapping everything up with the supply chain, the manufacturing, and making sure that there's a nice, consistent ramp there and that we're able to to really scale with with our system together.
Speaker1: Does that mean that the plan is very much in the future to be anywhere and everywhere? A woman would look to buy a pregnancy test in all of the places, all the retail places in addition to data say, yeah, absolutely.
Speaker2: I mean, the goal with this has always been to be able to get this product into the hands of as many women as possible because there is a real mission here. There's a mission around the plastic piece of this, but there's also a mission around the empowerment on the female side of this as well. So there's benefits. There's absolutely benefits for this product. And in developing countries, there's where where there's concerns around waste and also concerns around privacy. I mean, absolutely. I mean, in the US only represents about a third of the global pregnancy test market. So there's a lot of other pregnancy tests being sold in places other than the US, and Australia has interestingly been one of the folks who 12 percent of the people that are that are trying to purchase a pregnancy test and they put it in their cart are from Australia. We're getting a lot of e-mails from people, the good old love, that's great, yeah, it's the international demand, I think is one of the things that really shocked me since since launch. We're not we're not doing PR beyond the US, really. Right. So there's some kind of very interesting organic mess that is happening to us. And then we're seeing 12 percent of people that are trying to purchase oil from Australia, eleven point five percent are from Canada. So there's there's some really interesting stuff there that, you know, I knew there was international demand, that I didn't expect it to some of this level. And so that's been something that's been really, really interesting to see. So. Yeah, exactly.
Speaker1: Yeah, absolutely. So outside of the retail expansion piece, what does the future look like, FOLIA? Is it more products? Is it building the team? Is it global expansion or is it all of those things and more
Speaker2: All of those things and more. Right. I mean, distribution is obviously very important and very critical. So that's one of the big things. We do need more focus on the team. I mean, the inherent ness of scale is that you need more people. Right? So that's that's absolutely part of it for sure. Distribution is definitely critical. We will need to receive some additional regulatory clearances to go outside of the US. So so we do need to receive those to be able to go x us. And I mean, I think the other the other thing on the U.S. distribution is. It's probably finding some decent partners there at a certain point, some of that stuff is easier if you've got somebody who knows the market and you can kind of plug in as opposed to to really try to learn that all on our own. So those are some of the pretty big key things.
Speaker1: Exciting, very exciting. What is your key piece of advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business?
Speaker2: I know this is kind of cliche, but to just do it right, to just start the action is so important and the momentum piece is really, really critical. You know, if you don't make any of those steps, nothing happens. Right. So, I mean, I would say start talking to people about the idea, you know, do some informal surveys with the folks and make efforts to kind of make things happen. I do think that we're at a very unique point in time where not only are more women much better positioned in society in the sense that there's a lot more women scientists, there's a lot more female designers, entrepreneurs, and so you a period in time for for women. And so but it's also e-commerce and the Web has changed, changed the ability for people to start businesses. Crowdfunding has changed things. You know, even when we started, Leah, that wasn't as more as as much of a prominent kind of thing. But there are becoming a lot more resources where even if you don't have access to family money, which I think to be candid, entrepreneurship, that's part of the struggle.
Speaker2: If you can't find funding, that's obviously just inherently a big, big challenge of it. But there are starting to be so many more things that you can do quickly and easily and cheaply now with DTC, with e-commerce, with the world of crowdfunding, with the world now of, you know, even equity crowdfunding is is pretty interesting now with everyday people being able to to invest in companies. So it's really changing kind of what you can do these days as opposed to what was achievable 10 years ago. And networking has always has always been big. So I would just sometimes show up at events because you never know who you're going to meet or who's going to introduce you to the next person that might matter. And there's you know, the pandemic has changed things with what for sure right now that there's that stuff is starting to open back up. There's great maker spaces. I think there's some really, really powerful resources that are emerging. But the short answer is. So just make and make an effort to try to try to do it.
Speaker1: Take the step. I love that. At the end of every episode, I ask a series of six quick questions and some of them we may have already covered already, but we just breezed through it anyway, so that in a few years time when I have hundreds of women who have been on the show, I can look back and pull out any trends and any insights and kind of those interesting data points. So question number one is what's your why why do you do what you do?
Speaker2: I spoke a little bit about this, but I do this to really inspire other female entrepreneurs and also offer women a product that they they haven't had before. This idea of steam and steam is really means a lot to me. I grew up in rural pay in a small, small town. My dad built bridges for a living and he built our house into a countryside hill. So I was always kind of surrounded by this, like science, math, or my mom was like a crafter. And so I really do this to inspire other other women to take the leap into to really push forward on some of the Stemmons stuff. And I have a passion, obviously, for inspiring anybody and more smaller rural communities.
Speaker1: I love that sounds like a really beautiful upbringing, I actually also grew up in the bush in a mountain.
Speaker2: I love it. We should have talked about that. Well, give me just one stoplight. It was crazy.
Speaker1: Yeah, my road was a dirt road.
Speaker2: Dirt road to go. I want to I won't get into this too much, but I do have it on my desk. This is this is the house I grew up that's clean and green. And, you know, I talk about it sometimes growing up like that. And you probably sort of similar. I mean, I think that there's there's such strong ties to nature, which are also really interesting, that even even in the ability of a child to be able to slide right off my roof, like I learned in early, early on, like common conventions could be broken and the world holds a little bit of a special regard for those who kind of change the status quo. Mm hmm. So that I think that's just ingrained in me. And that's also probably my biggest driving. Why?
Speaker1: Hmmm, I think that's a lot of freedom in that kind of upbringing, and I think I don't know for me, I really cherish that I had this weird, unique upbringing that, you know, isn't the norm kind of thing, I guess, among my circle of people now. And so I feel like I can relate. But moving on to question number two, let me keep going
Speaker2: Right on that one.
Speaker1: But me too. We'll have to do a follow up episode. What is the number one marketing moment you'd say that's made the business pop so far?
Speaker2: So there's two that kind of come to mind. One was it was really being strategic in lining up some awards with the announcement of our FDA clearance. So I knew kind of right about when we were going to have or were expected to have our FDA clearance. And so I looked for events and awards that we could enter around that time frame because I wanted to try to line up that announcement really well. So we were able to to fortunately be able to get on stage at TechCrunch and Berlin. And I announced that FDA clearance live on the international stage. We ended up winning and that drove like three hundred and twenty million press impressions in four weeks. And it absolutely helped lead us to be able to secure funding. So that was absolutely critical for us. So just the ability to kind of be strategic about lining up awards and in doing some of the timing around like larger announcements so that that really changed some of the trajectory for us and being able to get in secure funding. And the other one, which I talked about is packaging right out to the fact that we have such a unique and different packaging. We've won awards for that as well. And I also think that it has the ability to have a little bit of finality to it because it's just so different and it's so unique. So those are those are the two things being strategic about the packaging design and making it look like, you know, kind of like candy and and even the photography that we take for the product, we try to make pregnancy tests look like eye candy. Those those two things, but the timing on announcements with the ones was a big deal for us.
Speaker1: That's really clever. Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you reading or subscribing to or listening to at the moment that others would benefit from knowing about?
Speaker2: I'm a big fan of podcasts, so there's a lot a lot of stuff that I listen to their audiobooks, academic journals, if I really want to know a little bit. Nature has great stuff in and often covers some of the material science stuff that I like super, super into because I think it's the wave of the future and patterns. So I spoke a little bit about this before, but like all ugly enough that you can learn a lot from reading patterns, especially once you get the hang of the way the format of patterns work, because to get a pattern, you have to be able to actually share the art of the steps of how to do something. And so it's almost like reading a recipe. So.
Speaker1: Where do you go to write a patent?
Speaker2: Oh, you can do patents, patents, it's great for you patents online because of patents. Oh yeah. Yeah.
Speaker1: Get on to this. I'm going to come back to you on what I love. Yes. That's so cool.
Speaker2: So there's a product that you're really interested in how the technology or something is working or you want to learn a little bit more about the specific type of technology. Yeah. Google patents.
Speaker1: Nice going to look
Speaker2: Into that, yeah, we learned about certain materials to use from reading patterns.
Speaker1: Wow, cool. I'm conscious of the time, so I'm going to brazen, I feel like we could talk forever. I'm having such a great time. Question number four is, how do you win the day? What are your A.M. or P.M. rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated?
Speaker2: Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee. I have to have coffee.
Speaker1: Ditto, yes,
Speaker2: Coffee and a little time in the morning, I think is something I really, really value. And then recently, because it has been pretty stressful some of the evenings, I'm starting to try to turn my phone on, like, do not disturb just to be able to really try to to unwind a little bit later into the evenings.
Speaker1: Mm hmm. Yes, super important. I need to do that. Question number five is, if you only had a thousand dollars left in the business bank account, where would you spend it?
Speaker2: We got really tough on a couple of different answers I have on this one. We're thoughts I have on it. You know, inherently I automatically think like something that would bring in more money, which would either be promotion of the product or a networking event that, you know, there's potential funding. So those are the two I think, of first. But then I would also say the third one would also potentially just be like or splurge on a team outing. Right. Like, if it's either good, either turn it into more money or splurge on the team.
Speaker1: They go out with a bang. I like it.
Speaker2: I like it.
Speaker1: And last question. Question number six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan?
Speaker2: Yeah, I had a great mentor who used to just say, like, you know, take a breather, have a drink and move on. Right. So I think to summarize it, it's just kind of like reflect to regroup and keep going. I mean, that's as an entrepreneur, that's about the deal, right? You're just you're always trying to adjust to the change. That's the only thing that's almost inherent everything. And and keep going.
Speaker1: Amazing. Bethany, thank you so much. I am just so grateful that I got to talk to you and obviously obsessed with what you're doing. Love it. So cool. You're a Wonder Woman. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Speaker2: Thank you. This is this has been such such fun. So really a pleasure being here and chatting with you today. I appreciate that.