Today I’m chatting to Eva Goicochea, the founder of a sexual wellbeing company called Maude.
A brand that's championing the path for modern intimacy, sexual health and education. Eva started the brand back in 2015 and has pioneered the path forward for changes in how we see and speak about our intimacy, mental health and sexual wellbeing.
We managed to squeeze this episode in after a few tech issues - which is the story of my life right now - and an important meeting that Eva had coming up, so it’s quick but it’s got everything you need to know about building a brand in an industry that’s typically regarded as taboo - and shouldn’t be - and the challenges that come with it.
And while I have you here I just want to give a huge thanks to everyone that has taken the time to leave a review, it really helps others ears find us and have a listen. If you’re loving these episodes as much as I am, please head to the app and leave us a review!
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Yeah, so my career actually began in my early 20s, I studied marketing, but then in my early twenties, I fell into being a legislative aide in health care, which is a much longer story. I grew up in Sacramento and so I actually moved to New York and then moved back to Sacramento. And that's how that happened. And as a state capitol, they have a lot of you know, there's a lot of policy groups there. So I ended up moving to L.A. and getting back into marketing and worked with a few agencies on a bunch of brands and then landed at Evelin is one of the first employees. And when I left in about a year and a half later, I was really excited about joining a health care startup and I could not find one. And I've always been interested in sexual wellness. And so long story short, I think it was a convergence of this like health care beginning and then everything I had done for 10 years thereafter. And this space has not been really changed in one hundred years. So I'm really excited that Modocs is now.
Yeah, absolutely. And when you were getting started, what was the what were the first steps to launching this business?
Well, the funny thing is that the idea came about in twenty fifteen and in typical fashion I built a website first, which was not the way to do it. I don't
Recommend that because
We started getting inquiries about product and press, which was funny. But I think when you first start, you need to really think about the industry that you're going into and what the landscape looks like. My first recommendation is really to analyze what's happening in the space that you're going into and then starting to do some customer research. So we did a big survey early on. We purchased like some formal research so that we could understand. And I think you really have to build a foundation. And that took a year. Yeah. You know, you can go to market sooner for other industries, I think. But in this case, I really, really wanted to understand
What was happening. Yeah.
And so after that was the next step to look at getting capital and raising
Investment, or was it to
Find a manufacturer? What the next
Steps? It was
Both. I think one was to work on the product to make sure that you kind of
Had the business
Model and really what the unit economics were so that you could raise capital. So that's an interesting one, because I've gotten asked a lot about
And precede. And I think there are some basics that you need to know. You definitely need to know what your economics will look like, what the cost will be, and then you can kind of build out a model. And so then I raised half a million, which was really hard. It wasn't easy. It was definitely a friends and family round. We had some institutional
And then we launched the business in twenty eighteen.
Wow. And so what were the products that you launched with
You were trying to find like a manufacturer and all that kind of thing, how did you do it. What advice would you give for other people who want to go into product development of typically unique products?
Well, I think so. There are some really best in class manufacturers in our space that we went to. I think when you're starting to go into formulating products from scratch as opposed to, you know, for instance, condoms or cost to medical devices. So you can't really like you can't really build a condom from scratch, it would take a lot of money and time. So I think, again, it's the FDA. It's a medical device. So in our space, it's one thing because you're trying
To find FDA
Manufacturers and you're working you're trying to work with formulations that are really body safe and you work with chemists. If you're going into something completely new, I think there's much more research to be done. And I would recommend as as much as possible to get in touch with factories that have chemists where you can start learning about it more than just saying, I'm going to go build something off the shelf. There are a lot of brands that produce things that are not their formulas, specially around vitamins.
Wow, I didn't know that.
I know. Yeah. If you wanted to start a vitamin company, you would call up a vitamin manufacturer tomorrow and have a vitamin company pretty soon.
Yeah. Gosh. And and so how long did that process take then to build these kinds of things?
So it took took about another year, like we really started working on it in twenty sixteen and then from twenty sixteen through twenty seventeen, we were still working on product. And the reason that we raised money, aside from the fact that this is a very large category, was manufacturing. You have to have a lot of money to get it off the ground because the minimum order quantities or Mockus are so high. And that's another thing to consider when you're building a business
Is like, can you make
One hundred of something or do you have to make five thousand or something at once?
And did you have to make five thousand or something?
Well, originally the the factory asked us to do a million units.
Oh my gosh. Wow. That's a lot.
Yeah, it's a lot. So we, we got them down to one hundred thousand and then if you put them in packs of ten it doesn't seem so crazy, but it was. Yeah. That's one of the biggest challenges of product companies is really dealing with factories who especially if they're large scale factories. What you are dealing with when you're talking about medical devices, you're tiny. You have to really knock down the door to get them to pay attention to you.
Yeah. Yeah. And and then I guess it's like you also had you had the condoms, but you also have the vibrator, you have the bath time products. You have such a big range of things now.
It's a lot to be placing orders for while minimum one is for all of that stuff, which is also just a data see brand, not having the wholesalers to also fulfill on those.
I mean I think well so a couple of things. The first one
Was you asked
Me when what we launched, so we launched with two lubricants, a vibrator and condoms. And the idea was really to make these basics accessible in one place because typically you have to go buy a vibrator, maybe at a sex shop and the other products at a drugstore. So we were trying to put them in one place and then also reposition a vibrator as a basic because for a lot of people it's really a basic necessity. So that's one when we started to go into Bath and body,
We really started working
Formulated products from scratch. We weren't talking about dealing with the FDA. Say you're talking about dealing with a variety of bodies around. Like if you wanted to make it one hundred percent organic, if you wanted to make sure that the formulation of the stent was really safe to be used in other products, so started to bring about a whole other array of considerations. But the reason that we did it was because we had customers saying sex is great, but I'm really thinking about my intimate life in a broader way. Can you sort of make that better? And we want body products. We want scented products to other things. And so that's really why we did it.
That's so credible. I'm just wondering how you how you knew how to do all this stuff, how do you know that you need to go to the FDA to find these products? And, you know, where do you learn that? I read that you went to an online school through Harvard to do entrepreneurship essentials. Did you find some of that stuff out there?
No. I mean, I you know, I had my former co-founder was in product, but really when the company started taking office, when we hired our director of product, who's currently our director of product, he's fantastic. He's taken three hundred products to market and he knows how to navigate factories and he knows how to navigate these relationships because a lot of it is negotiation. It's sure it's also going through the process of actually making the product and knowing what questions to answer. But I think it's also about knowing how to like, you know, knowing where there's wiggle room with these relationships and then finding out starting to do some back channel research about like
How much you
Can trust them and who they are and who they
Worked with. So it's definitely
A relationship building. You know, Harvard was great for learning how to fundraise.