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From Toxic Experience in Modelling to a Successful Tech Entrepreneur, with Kic's Laura Henshaw

This is Laura Henshaw for Female Startup Club

Hello and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! If you’ve just found us - hi! I’m so happy you found us. Every week we’re learning from some of the world’s most brilliant minds in business. Like the co-founder of Kic - which you might have previously known as Keep It Cleaner, which was founded by Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith (now Miller).

Today we’re chatting with Laura who is the CEO of the Kic App and we’re really diving into her mission to help others embrace self-acceptance and make sustainable changes towards a healthier, happier lifestyle. The Kic app is like your best friend in health and wellness, literally in your pocket. It helps you with easy yummy soul nourishing food recipes and workout programs you can literally do from home.

I really loved this episode because Laura talks us through her journey from turning her experience in a toxic industry into a life changing, high impact company that helps women positively every single day. We talk through how she manages running a business as the CEO with her life outside of work - a battle we all seem to face, the real costs of developing an app and her tips for getting started if you have an idea.

Before we jump in a quick reminder on the girl code - if you get something out of this episode please share it, review us, send us to a friend - it all seriously helps and the compound effect is huge. You know I love the compound effect. And I have been feeling so loved after reading all the beautiful reviews you’ve been leaving on the show. Oh! And we’re still doing a call out for our loyal listeners to be involved in our new content series where you DM me a voice note or a question about anything across business, life or relationships to feature on the show! We’re going to batch record a bunch of the best ones we get in - and we’ve had some real crackers so far - just voice note us a DM on Female Startup Cub’s Instagram and you’ll be featured on the show in the coming weeks.

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

Today we're chatting with Laura who is the CEO of the Kic app and we're really diving into her mission to help others embrace self acceptance and make sustainable changes towards a healthier happier lifestyle. The Kic app is like your best friend in health and wellness, literally in your pocket. It helps you with easy yummy soul, nourishing food recipes and workout programs that you can literally do from home. And I really love it. It's really easy to use, but I really love this episode because Laura talks us through her journey from turning her experience in a really toxic industry into a life changing high impact company that helps women positively. Every single day we talk through how she manages running a business as the CEO with her life outside of work and it's a battle that we all seem to face. So I love this conversation. We also talk about the real costs of developing an app and her tips for getting started. If you are someone with an idea before we jump in a quick reminder on the girl code, you know about the girl code. If you get something out of this episode, please share it. Review us, send us to a friend. It all seriously helps and the compound effect over time is huge. You know, I love the compound effect. I have also been feeling so loved after reading all the beautiful reviews that you've been leaving on the show. So if you're one of those people, thank you so much. I read every single review and it seriously truly warms my heart and my soul. So thank you. Last thing we're still doing a call out for our loyal listeners to be involved in our new content series where you dm me a voice note or a question about anything you want to talk about, any topic across business or life or relationships to feature on the show. We are going to batch record a bunch of the best ones we get in at the end of this week and we've had some real crackers so far. So I would love to have you slide into our D MS. All you need to do is send us a voice note on DM at female startup clubs, Instagram and you will hear yourself being featured on the show in the coming weeks. Ok. Let's get into today's episode. This is Laura for female startup club. Laura. Hi, welcome to the female start-up club podcast. Hi. I'm so excited to be here. Me too. I'm so excited to be interviewing you on the show today. I feel like I consume so much of your content on social media specifically that I feel like I already know you and I'm so excited to like, get into this chat. Oh, thank you. No, I, I appreciate it so much. I love the pod. Oh, thank you. How's your day going? Do you have any winds or? Oh shit moments that have happened so far? Good day. I think before we got on, we were chatting off the mic about, I've just been in four hours of finance meetings. So I'm very excited to have this podcast to, to break the day up. And then I'm, I also, we had a bit of a headphone malfunction on my side before. And so I've had to use one of our very, very lovely engineers in our team, Glenn. I'm using his headset which has a microphone built into it, but I've never worn one before. So I'm, I'm getting used to it. It's very sexy. I can't confirm. Love a developer headset. I want to actually start this episode by lolling about something that you posted a couple of years ago. I just wanna laugh about the video of you cutting your husband's haircut, cutting your husband's hair and the haircut you gave him during COVID. That was so bad. It's so funny. I was actually looking back at that video the other day and the worst thing is his hair has never grown back. The, it's like it, it, it made him now have thinner hair because we shaved his head off for everyone listening. I tried to do a cut and then I went way too high at the back and it looks ridiculous like a bowl was just put on his head. Oh my, it was so and then I kept making it worse and I should have just stopped. So we had to shave it off and his hair has never been the same. Oh my God. This video really sticks with me. My husband and I laugh about it all the time. It's just like one of those moments that I'm like always remembering that video. I wanted to loll about it lol All right, we love to kick off these episodes by rewinding to life before you started kick before you started your company to understand kind of what was getting you thinking about starting a business and where you kind of start your entrepreneurial journey. So my entrepreneurial journey started probably what would I say? I mean, I've had a job since I was 14 and nine months. I was really grateful to grow up in. I mean, at the time it's interesting. I think I was kind of envious. A lot of, a lot of my friends who didn't have to start working when they were 15 and, you know, got in a lot allowance and all those things. But when we grew up in our household it was like, if you want it, you have to make money to get it. Um, basically, like, we're not gonna pay for it for you because my parents just weren't able to afford that. But it's been, um, it's been such an, I'm so grateful for it now, even though at the time, like I remember, I think it was in year 10, I went to a Catholic school. So we had our debut on balls, which when I think back, do you know what that is? It's like a, is it like a coming of age? Yes. It's literally, you're like announced into society. And when I actually think about it, like, from my belief system now, I don't mean to be announced into society, you know. But anyway, I wanted to do it. You got to wear a white dress, you got to like, do the dance lessons with whatever your guy partner if you wanted to choose a guy. But I, at the time I remember it was like, you had to fill a table of people and it was really, really expensive. And mum said to me, like, I, we can't afford it. But if you wanna do it, like you can pay for it. So I remember I save for my dress and I save for everything and I had to work a lot to do it. But the lessons that, that taught me were, were just huge. So that was, um, up until when I was 18 and then when I was around 19. So I was studying law at University law and Business and I was doing some modeling on the side as well as my uh I was waitressing and also working at a hospital in admin. And I got my first like full day modeling job modeling is extremely competitive. And obviously, there's like, not really when you think about it, it's not in your control. It's like based on if someone thinks you look good enough to be in their campaign or whatever and you suit exactly, you suit the look. So I really struggled with that because from a modeling perspective, I couldn't, I was so used to, you know, like setting my butt off and then being in control and then getting the marks, you know, to get into the course or whatever. But with, and, and the harder that I have worked. And I also have to, I want to acknowledge my privilege in being able to say that because I think there's a lot of people that work, you know, three jobs, work their ass off all of their lives. So they're not able to get out of that pattern. Um So I have a lot of privilege in saying that, but I did find the harder I worked, the like, the more I would be more opportunities that would come and the better I would do so with modeling, it was not like that at all. And the only thing I could think of to be able to grow in that career and the reason I wanted to grow, it is because it paid so much better than waitressing when I was at uni. So basically, it meant that I would have to work less hours and I would be able to study more, which would help me for my career to want to become a lawyer at what I wanted to, what I used to want to do. And so what I thought is that if I start building a personal brand outside of, you know, these my on social media, what that could enable me to do is then for clients to want to book me, not just for the way that I'm looked for that I look, but also for like my brand and the audience that I reach etcetera. So I had started thinking about that and obviously social media was such a, an amazing opportunity. Oh yeah. So this was in, I would have been uh 19. So how old am I 30 11 years ago? What's that? 22,020. 0 my God. Don't ask me to do math 22,011. Yeah, early days of social media, early days to have also the foresight to understand the importance of having influence and the importance of having a community and an audience back then. I mean, at the time, honestly, I was just trying to make enough money to study, right? And it was like, how can, how can I do this? But yeah, II, I mean, absolutely. I think it's important to look back and give yourself credit where credit's due. But that's kind of what my, what I was thinking and I had been given an opportunity to go overseas to model for six months to go to Italy. And I at the time to think about, you know, modeling overseas, seems like this dream like, wow, look at how amazing that would be except my face was like, oh my God. Wow, the reality is so different. But anyway, I wanted to, you know, I was given this opportunity and I thought I should take it and I deferred uni for this semester. And I thought, what am I gonna do in my spare time? And then as well as the fact that I kind of had on my mind too, how do I start building a personal brand for myself? And so I started a blog um which was called Food Fit and Repeat. Anyway, it's the best I could come up with at the time. Um And that's kind of what I did to um fill my time, my spare time when I wasn't working overseas, which was 95% of the time because it is so damn competitive. Um So I started my blog and the blog, I was sharing kind of just recipes that I like to create and just some, some of my thoughts I suppose in blog posts and health had always been something that I was so passionate about growing. It was interesting when I finished year 12, my original um course that I was enrolled in was dietetics. But then I got my hr back and I thought with what I got back, I thought my mom would be so proud if I did law even though I had no idea about it. But I just never thought it would be an option for me. So that's why I swapped at the last minute. But health and wellness had always been a nutrition had always been my focus and more my passion, I suppose. So I was, I finished um my hang on. Where was I going with that? Oh, yeah. So I went overseas. I had my blog um and I started sharing recipes through that time. I was also going through a really hard time with my relationship with myself. Um and my body, I'd never really thought about my body a lot until the modeling industry and social media I think social media just opened up. It opens up this world of comparison, especially for young women. And we are so impressionable when we go in there. And it's interesting, like I did biology in high school, I understand gene genetics. I'm also, I also live in a, a body that was accepted by the modeling industry and I still felt this pressure that I wasn't enough. Um And that my body equaled my worth. And with the modeling industry, like, especially when I was overseas, that was literally the case. It was like, unless you're, you know, get to this size with your body, you're not gonna get any work. And so that for me was a really tough time to go through. And I think, I mean, so many women and non-binary people go through that there is so much pressure to look a certain way and there's so much around us that kind of makes us believe that what we look like and what our bodies like the size of our bodies matter and that, you know, the smaller of space we can take up the more worthy we are as a human, which is so, so, so wrong. So I was navigating that and I came back to Australia and Steph, my now business partner and best friend in kick went through a really similar situation in New York. So we both kind of lived those experiences before we came back together. Um And then before that as well. I'd also, it must have been right before I went overseas I had started a protein powder business, um, with my personal trainer. Actually, at the time, we, we thought there was a gap in the market for a lifestyle product. Protein was very supplementary. Um, it was either really kind of vegan, like, uh, the raw Amazonia had just kind, kind of come out. So that was one area and then there was also the like super like had like creatine and all these things that I was um I didn't even know what they meant. But also I found it was really intimidating. And protein is a great way if you want to use protein powder in your diet, not just to like bulk up. And a lot of the women protein had the word like lean protein, like lose weight by taking this protein. And then you look at the ingredients and it's literally just protein powder. Um and protein is just a macro nutrient that we need in our bodies. And so if people, when people are struggling to get it or they want to add a little bit more into their diet, a protein powder is a great way. But for women, it was the, the whole industry was just so intimidating. And so we wanted to create a lifestyle product, which I ended up exiting from that business. But now we have protein in the grocery range of the business. So that kind of came 3 60 which, which was great right now. Oh my God, thank you. Thank you so much. But yeah, it's interesting when, when I think back to the early days, I mean, especially like with that protein brand, I had, we had like we were learning, we had no idea what we were doing. Um And I remember thinking to myself, oh, Coles are gonna come to us. Woolworths is gonna come to us. And it's just, it's so funny when you start, like, there's so much naivety. But I also think the naivety is the magic because that makes you believe that you can do anything. Oh my gosh, that is so true. Naivety is a real advantage, especially in the early days. I'm wondering how you went from kind of, you know, coming back to Australia, potentially going back into uni um kind of reining back up with Steph and having this light bulb moment that you could start kind of building something together, whether that was already kind of a vision as a business or whether it was just like, hey, let's have some fun and do things on the side and what that kind of moment was for you. Yeah. So Steph actually had a dream, um which is so it just so funny to, to reflect back on. But I had my blog at the time and even to start that blog took so much confidence I should have mentioned that before I kind of thought and I think we so often do it, like, who would want to hear from me, like who would want to read my recipes? Like, who would care? Like, who do I think I am? Like, what are my friends gonna think of me? Because this isn't what I've done before. We kind of put ourselves in these boxes. And for me, I was like, I'm a law student so I should be doing that. And if I do anything outside of that, like who do I think I am? Um Obviously, it took me a while to kind of be able to work through that and start the blog, which I am so grateful that I did. Um because it was really how Steph and I connected and I think how for Steph, Steph was growing. Um So Steph had grown to, I don't know how much she had a big following. She was one of the first people to really grow her following through Instagram um and really grow her personal brand, which was just amazing. And then had also just come back from New York and been through kind of um a, a similar different journey but similar in the pressure that she was putting on herself to look a certain way in the industry. And she actually had a dream that we made an e-book together. And so that was in 2015. So back then I now if I say e-book, people are like, well, some people might be like, what even is that or any is listening. But I suppose it was, it was kind of like, we kind of went from, like, blogs are really big and then ebooks are really big and then podcasts that back then there wasn't really podcasts. It's kind of, but ebooks were the thing. And so I thought my first reaction was, oh my God. No, I can't even believe people are paying like, sorry, coming onto my blog and getting the recipes for free, like let alone wanting to pay for them. But Steph said, no, no, no, like I think we should do this and what we wanted to do because we'd both kind of gone through our own relationships, as I said, with kind of rebuilding that relationship with ourselves was to take it back to like really healthy, simple, like healthy eating being simple. And that's what it is because at the time, there was this very big focus on kind of like accounting and all of these diets. And then the other side of it was this super like in quotation marks wellness approach, but that was very much the Gwyneth Paltrow approach. So if you wanted to make like a healthy in quotation mark slice, it could cost like $400 and you have to go to the health food store and get all these random ingredients that you'd never heard of before. And it took like five hours to make it and then it tasted like beetroot and that, that's, you know, that's not, no, that's not enjoyable. Food needs to be enjoyable. And so we wanted to just really, really strip it back to basics. So I think that's the biggest thing when it comes to the health and wellness industry. So many people have made so much money on selling like secrets in quotation mark. Like this is a secret to like getting the body you want or whatever. There is literally no secrets. It's like strip it back to basics, move your body, eat well and rest and look after your mind like that. There's obviously more components of health now, which is great that we've discussed. But there's this whole industry that's made so much money out of like telling people that, you know, if you do this, you'll, you know, you'll look like this and we really wanted to strew it back to basics. So we started with the e-book and then from there, we sold around 7.5 1000 copies of the e-book, which at the start was why I couldn't believe that, you know, how much are you selling it for? $20.20 dollars, $20. So that for us was first of all, from a business perspective, like the most money we'd ever made. What's the math on that? 7.5 1000 times $20 100 and 50 grand Ok. Cool. Wow. Amazing. Yes. Exactly. Very positive signal. Exactly. And we, and before we started that, we actually, we weren't sure on how it was gonna go. So we, we brought sponsors on board um because we, what was great with, with us and in launching is that we both started to build special staff, these really strong personal brands with audiences and, and a community that we're able to speak to. So we had a feeling they might this, you know, there was this gap and we identified it. But then when we were able to sell through that many copies, it was like, well, hang on, people do want this type of content from us. And so from there, we then started a subscription, a very basic subscription website uh in which people, I think it was, it was 7 95 a month and you got three recipes in one workout per month. The workouts were filmed in it was so when I look back on it now and it's like, I always, I think such good advice that people give is like, don't wait till it's perfect. I will I die looking back at the quality that we released then like that, we literally shot workouts in the back of the gym on an iphone with a different personal trainer every time. So there was no consistency. People didn't know what they were gonna get like it was so different, like just a bit random but that's ok. We didn't have a brand book and all the things that we have now. But if we had, have waited to have all those things, I don't think we would have ever done it. So we started with that and we did that for about a year and it grew, it was slowly, slowly growing. We had a small base of, of people on that. And then we got approached by a company that ran quite a few um programs for different people. We worked with them for a year. Um And we had a program that was called Kick Girls. Uh We then decided, and it was the, the biggest risk. We, we probably still to this day that we've ever taken on our business journey. But when we were working with the other company, like they were fantastic, we had a great partnership. But what it meant was that we weren't running the business. We didn't have a full team because they worked on multiple programs. And we felt like for what we wanted to achieve with kick and with our mission and what we were trying to do, we had a ceiling on what we could achieve. And so we wanted to go out on our own and, and do it. We also only had a web site. We wanted an app, there was lots of things that we wanted to do because with kick now such and what we've always done such an important part of helping people on their health journey is making it easier because the more barriers there are, the harder it is. So having an app was very important to that because it makes our product more accessible. So we took the biggest risk. Uh We went out on our own. We had uh about a three month period where basically to build an app, build a product, build a team just to quickly jump in here. Are you? How many? Just to paint the picture? I love to paint the picture. How many members did you have with the kick girls? You know, program people that you were working with at that point. And what year are we talking? So this was in year we launched the app in 2018. So we worked with the other company between 2017 and 2018. We don't, um we haven't publicly said the number of people but it was, it was thousands of people. So we built a base but we were losing everything. We were losing the subscription, the whole subscription base. Um, all of the content, everything we just, we owned the Instagram page. So we kept that. So it was a huge risk. Yeah, it puts you in a tricky position. Exactly. But it was, it was our choice to make that risk. Like it was, we knew getting into everything that, that's what it was and what it showed us when we rebuild and we relaunched, which was the scariest thing ever really. And I think for step and I too, something that, I mean, it's got its cons and positives and negatives about it. But pros and cons Steph and I are not from a tech background. A lot of tech businesses are founded by tech founders that's not us. So for us, it was a very, very hard time to navigate. But again, naivety was the most amazing thing for us during that time because we didn't know what we were in for. And we just thought we are gonna make this work. I'd love to stick here for a point because obviously, you know, you're, you're non-technical, but you are a tech founder that is, that is who you are for sure. And I'd love to kind of understand a little bit more about um you know, what kind of money you needed to invest at this point to build an app. What does it look like to build an app as a non-technical founder? Because I can imagine anyone listening who might have an idea might be like, how do I actually do that? What do, what does it take? What does it cost like, how do you actually build an app? Who do you turn to? It's such a good question. It's something too that I get a lot of messages about. And I think people think like I've got an idea, I wanna make it into an app but that's amazing. But apps are as, as you kind of alluded to extremely expensive to build. I mean, right now at kick, we've got a team of about 10 engineers and product people and that is growing quite quickly that work full time on our product. And our product road map is so long, like there's so much that we still have to do. And so for us, when we first left um the other company and went out on our own, we partnered with an agency that for us was the best thing for us to do because that agency had all of the knowledge and the insights and the experience in how to build an app. I think for Steph and I, we now have all of our tech in house. So we parted ways with the agency and brought it in house in 2021 which was really important to have all of our tech in house as a tech company and an app company. But before that, I think if we had tried to do that in 2018, we would have shot ourselves in the foot because we just weren't ready. We didn't have the knowledge. And I think what it would have meant is we were able to put a lot of trust in the agency, which was great. But I think if we were trying to build the team out, it would have been really difficult to do that in such a short period. My biggest advice to people with apps and, and how much they cost they can cost, you know, between, it really depends like 50,000 to a million dollars. Like, it's such a big kind of depends on what type of, if you're reusing codes that's already out there or you're building your own, if you have a native app or react native et cetera. But what is really important to remember for anyone that might be going out and working with an agency in particular. And we're really lucky, we had a fantastic relationship with our agency and they were great. But what I also know happens a lot is that people get quotes for an app, but that doesn't cover the ongoing cost like just the bau and maintenance of an app. So someone might say, ok, it's gonna cost $200,000 to build this app and they build it. But then if I OS updates something, you have to change the things within your app to make sure it complies with that if there's bugs, all of these things, which are, it is impossible to launch an app without a bug or a problem. And so it's really important to make sure that if you are wanting to build an app that you have got plans like within your forecast, your finance and your budget, you have money allocated to being able to maintain that app and then also build on it because when you go to market, you might have your product market fit straight away. But it also takes time to work out. Like what do your users actually want from your product? Because you might go out there and think, oh, we're gonna be, you know, for, for us at kick. We, we have got quite an even spread on all of the use of our three pillars in movement, mindfulness, um and meals. So recipes, however, you might go out there and think we've got this amazing recipe app. But then people might actually love your shopping list function or your meal plan option function or whatever that might be. And you won't know that until people have navigated your product and used it. Um I think that's something is found as uh a mistake or something that we get because so much about it is gut instinct when you start and it's very important to be able to tune into that. But as you grow, you have to make data informed decisions and that's really, really important. And you also can't make assumptions on how you think people are gonna use your product. Like you have to wait and see and have time to be able to iterate through that. And so I think that's probably something that's quite a big mistake. And I think too, especially for um there's not a lot of women in tech. I think that's another problem. So it's very likely if you're a female founder, you won't have a tech background and you might be going to a tech agency that's predominantly male. You just don't have that knowledge. And so it's really easy to be taken advantage of and we definitely weren't, we were really lucky. But I know. So, I've heard so many horror stories of people that have put all of their budget into building an app and then they haven't thought about how am I gonna maintain this or the product wasn't, wasn't what it needs to be. Um And then they don't have that kind of wriggle room to be able to iterate from there. So that's really important. Yeah, absolutely. It's something that I also see and hear all the time is founders being like, yes, my idea is great, but they haven't done customer market research, they haven't done the focus groups, they haven't just built an MVP and figured out the simplified version to test it before going all in. And I think that's something that, you know, anyone listening who has an idea, you really need to start from a place of being scrappy of understanding what people are going to pay for. Do people actually want what you're solving? What is the problem that you're actually solving for? Um versus, you know, just the idea of having this really cool app and this thing that isn't gonna happen overnight. But you, you kind of put yourself in a position of overnight success almost. And you need to go back and just really focus on proving out your concept MVP. Starting small. I think that's, that is such good advice and it's so true. And I think for us at Kik two, what's important to acknowledge is we purposely had built a community before we really had a product for them. So Steph and I, we done it personally to start with, to then sell the e-book. But the e-book was a low risk investment because the cost of creating an e-book versus an app is so different. So we then were able to, you know, build that, build up a, a group of people that were really connecting and a community of people with what we were doing to then take the next step to go to the subscription website and then kind of build up slowly to the app. And by the time we got to an app, we had identified a need of what people were looking for in terms of, you know, the whole health and wellness, not the whole, a lot of the health and fitness space in terms of apps, they make a lot of their money on the fact that people hate their bodies and they take advantage of it. So it's like because they promise that they'll be able to change it for you if you know, you can enter your before and after photo and your weight and you know, it will help you lose that weight. So then you get to that after photo, which is meant to be better, which is absolutely like, it's everything that we're against kick and at kick, we're here to help people take care of their bodies, not because they love them, not because they hate them. And that's so important to us. And it's been incredible. We've been able to identify that need, but we identified the need and kind of had a very, it's interesting that some people might see kick and think we've been an overnight success, but it has been such a long journey in kind of building up to where we are now 10 years to reach overnight success as they say, um in the beginning, actually, I don't know this, I was trying to look this online. Did you raise any capital? Have you raised any capital to date or how are you funding the, the development, especially in the beginning? So we're, we're bootstrapped to this point. And what we've done is, and this is really important too if you are uh founding a business with a co-founder, one of the things that you have to make sure is that you're aligned in terms of where you want to take the business and your values, but then also your personal values, so your money values, for example, and that's something that Steph and I are both very aligned on and we're very aligned on being able to invest back into the business. That was the number one core thing. We also were both, um, working other jobs while we were starting to grow, kick at the start. Now it's a full time job, but we did have that. So it wasn't our soul and I know that, that we were lucky to be able to have that because for some founders they might, you know, go out and it's, they have to make that product work. Um, because it's their only kind of way to make a living. But for us what we had, we had out and I know a lot of people, it's really hard because it's like we didn't have 9 to 5. But I know for a lot of people they can doing their 9 to 5 and then they're like, when I was listening to the episode, did you with Jess from Frank Body? I mean, that's such a great example of they were working all night and then going to work on their full time job during the day because you can't expect the businesses that's gonna make money for you and pay you a salary in the first, you know, few years, very, very rarely would founders get that. And so for us, we were very aligned on our set the way we were going to save and reinvest back into the business. So because we had, had the e-book, then we also had the subscription website and then it had worked with that other company. To that point, we were in a financial position where we could fund the development of the app. But it took us time to be able to be there to get there. If we didn't have that, we would have, we wouldn't have been able to do it without putting like quite a bit of capital in. Totally, totally. You were in a really great position to be able to take that next step. Like you said, I want to talk about kind of the early, you know, this is in 2018, you launched the app, right? 2018. Kind of what that first year or two was like getting people, you know, on the subscription on the app. What was marketing like? Was it as easy as, you know, it's our community, we were launching, we were just organically growing or were there other things at play that really helped you kind of leap forward? Because I know, I think I read you have like 300,000 people or, or something, some crazy number I saw online. I don't know, maybe that was your community numbers. I, I can't remember but you know, how do you actually attract and get people onto your app? What was your marketing approach? So we've had over 250,000 people that have been a part of the kit community throughout our journey. That's where that, that number would have come from. But it's so interesting to start off with in our first when I reflect back on, you know, the team size that we had, our team was one third or maybe even one. Yeah, probably one third of the size when, when we first launched, compared to where it is now. Um we also didn't have a paid media budget. So I think it was when I reflect on our first kind of year or a couple of years, it's a reminder of what and it's how we've, I always want to stay true to this in our core and stick to this. And as you grow, it does get harder. But we, because we didn't have the budget, we made it work and we had to think of ways outside of because for us, like we could have, you know, gone and I mean, we didn't have the money to do it. But if we had have, we could have essentially just put that money into Facebook and around Facebook ads. And at the time, they were working really well for health and wellness apps and kind of got all these people on our platform. But we didn't have, well, first of all, we didn't have the expertise to be able to do that. And we didn't have the resources in terms of money to be able to do that. So we have to think outside the box. And so what that has meant is that we have got such a strong organic brand and brand value, which is, is so hard to build and you can't get that through just spending money in paid advertising. So to start off with, we did have that community that we'd grown organically and we knew that the product that we were producing for them, they were wanting and needing for a lot of them. Like, for example, when we left the other company, um in the transition period, there was about a 30 day period where we had to let people know that their subscription would be canceled, obviously, because the company was being wound down. Um The partnership and there were people that were like, we got these emails, like, how could you take this away from me? Like this has been the only thing that's ever like, which is so special. Like got me out of bed and helped me on my, my health journey and, and got me moving and, and meant that I actually enjoy exercise for the first time in my life and, and uh being able to enable me to find balance and actually think that I can sustain this long term. And that's obviously what we're all about and we're like, don't worry, we're not going anywhere. Um We, but we couldn't say that at the time. But I think for us, we create, we've created a product that people, for a lot of people in their lives because of the pressure, especially as I've said, on, on like young women and non-binary people to look a certain way and that they have to feel like to be able to, you know, lead a healthy and quotation marks lifestyle. You have to overhaul your whole life like that is not sustainable for anyone. And at kick where, you know, we, we call ourselves the anti diet club because fat diets, I think the stat is 95% of them fail. And then what it means because Steph and I have been there is that you live in your head, you what you eat and exercise and all of that stuff controls your whole life and that's no way to live. It's, it's not sustainable. And so we've been able to connect with this community that need. And also so word of mouth has been huge for us because people, they really connect with what they do and then they tell all of their friends it's really special. We often, we see people at events and they'll say, oh my God, my best friend, she's like, I love kick now. But at the start, I didn't really know what it was, but my friend would not shut up. She's like every time I caught up with her, she spoke for 10 minutes about kick. So I was like, I'm gonna sign up. So he stopped talking about it. And then, then the our community will say like now I'm the person that tells all of my other friends. Um So that's been really special, word of mouth. Um And then outside of community and word of mouth, the other way we've been able to grow, which again is building that organic brand is we started with youtube. Um So we have a very, very strong social media presence through Instagram. And then we were doing longer form content through youtube in 20. I mean, youtube is still very big. I don't watch, consume as much youtube content as I used to. I now consume more podcasts. But then podcasts weren't, there weren't many podcasts, they were very much just starting, but youtube was very, very big. Not that it's not now, it's just a little bit different. So what we'd identified was if people are going to sit through a 20 minute youtube video, watching someone go through their daily life, like literally go to the supermarket, you know, all the things that you watch in vlogs, they are very engaged with that person and it's very likely they would be, they would buy into what they're doing or be influenced by them. Um Obviously, it's extremely important to take that influence seriously, but you really connect with people if you're watching someone for 20 minutes, like you are connecting with them. And so we wanted to, so youtube we started with and that was because you can't do that. It's a bit harder through Instagram and um you know, now tiktok because it's not long form content. So with youtube, we did that, we found that it for us for Steph and I to film our whole day, it didn't come as naturally to us as it does a lot of other youtubers. So we built the channel up. I think we built up to about 50,000 subscribers on youtube, but it was really hard and whenever you feel like you have to force something as it's just never gonna be as successful as it could be. So we ended up, it was in, I believe it was the, was it 20 must have been 2019. We launched our podcast because the podcast is another way to connect with people through longer form content. But it's not in that video. Obviously, we have video snippets, but it's not filming your whole life. And so from there, um that felt much more natural to us and like a better way for us to deliver that content and connect with, with our audience and grow our audience. And so we took because you can't just, you know, do youtube and then do podcasting on top of it and keep adding things like you have to take things away. And so we decided to slow down on the youtube content and then really focus on the podcast output. And we have had a fantastic growth through the podcast, especially um over the past few months in terms of the UK as the next market, we really really want to go into for kick and we had um last month's 20% month on month, unique audience growth within the UK. So that was really exciting. Um And it's really back to, which is amazing. Yeah. Um Thank you. It's really kind of going back to our roots of how did, when we first started, we've never been a business that, you know, pays for all of our users. It's just not gonna work like we build brand and people connect with brand. Um And that's, and when you start and you don't have a big budget, it's so easy to look at. Like I know, I know I said we use an agency for our app, which definitely was the best decision at the time. But what I see a lot of sometimes a lot of founders make the mistake of going and giving an agency or getting multiple agencies and just getting them to solve everything for them. Like do my marketing, do all of these things and it's very unlikely that you're going to be able to kind of outsource everything and your business to be able to grow and it's so expensive to do that as well. I think agencies are fantastic as you know, start to, as you start to develop. But I think it is a big risk if you put all of kind of your eggs in baskets of just getting agencies to do all of your marketing work for you because you know your brand best. And I think the work that you can do and the growth that you can get when you are forced to think outside of the box and not just going through traditional because I think if, if you just want to go to an agency and say, OK, I need you to get me 5000 new users, why would they be able to do that if you can't, like obviously through paid? Maybe because they're more technical. But I always, for me, like, especially in hiring and stuff, I get this kind of red flag. If I ever hear people say like, oh, I'll just get an agency to solve that. It's like, no, you have to help them solve it. You have to do it together. And I think it makes you a little bit sometimes. I think it can make you a bit lazy too because you're like, oh just get them to do it. But it's like you have to solve it yourself. And especially when you start, I don't have a lot of resources. And so it's really, really important to make sure that don't think like for anyone listening, like when we started, we didn't have a big budget. We did have a social platform though. And that helped a lot. But it's kind of thinking about how can you do this outside of the box? Because if it was as simple as you know, if, if there was, everyone's always looking for the silver bullet in marketing. Like, what's the thing that's gonna, you know, grow my business 10 or 20 times if we knew what that was, if every agency knew what that was for every business, every single business would have like 10 times or whatever year on year growth. And that isn't the case. So, I think that's really important to remember for you. Now, we haven't really touched on the product side of your business. Is that still, you know, like is that where your focus is or do you partner with someone on the products? Like how does the, the, you know, the protein, the bars, the all of your product based side of the business? How does that fit into the picture? So we found that part of the business, we had two other business partners. It's a completely separate business to kick the app and kick. And that business was founded in 2017 at the end of 2017 with two other business partners that had experience in the F MC G space. It is, I mean, every, every type of business is complicated but especially in F MC G, having existing relationships with the retailers is, and that's why I laugh about when I started my protein business. I thought cos wo would come to me, I'm sure with unicorns, it happens sometimes, but it's very unlikely and it's all about relationships and having that experience in that industry. So that's how our, our two business partners had that. Uh we, that business was um acquired by a business called Open Way Food Co in uh when was it the year before? So 2021 June to 30 that was, that was acquired, got it, got it, got it. I wanna switch gears a little bit because I know we're pressed on time and talk more a little bit about, you know, you personally your life, what you're doing kind of outside of work because something that you and you have to do really well is share a lot about your personal life, your relationship, your sex life, like all this stuff that's real and you know, we're all going through it, especially as, as founders who are busy and have lots going on and then also social media and all these things that you're kind of meant to be keeping up with as a busy person. CEO creator, all the things. How do you keep your life, your relationship, your, your personal life like spicy. How do you maintain like intimacy with your husband? Dalton? Oh, it's so hard. And I think it's probably something that as we continue to grow as a business, it's gonna become harder and harder to navigate. Like as you said, like my role in the business to see you. That's my primary role. However, balancing that with content and growing out like all of the content that we do the podcast et cetera. That's all so important to the business and so balance all of that is really difficult. I think too, with tiktok now, it does make it harder because it's another platform that I know at the start. I said, you know, we dropped, we kind of put youtube on the burner and went on to podcast. But tiktok has nothing's given with tiktok. It's just on top of it's just more content to create. And obviously, you can't put the same content out on tiktok and Instagram because it's different platforms, different audience, et cetera. So I think in terms of relationship, it's probably the hardest. The biggest argument that Dalton I have is around the amount of time I spend creating content because content I don't have time to do during the week. So I only do it kind of at night and on the weekends and that's like our time. So I think that is, it is difficult. And so I, I don't want to sit here and say like, oh, I've got this perfect balance and everything's so happy, like it's definitely difficult. Um And it's something that I find communication is the most important thing, do also runs his own business. And so for both of us, what's really important is to communicate. So I, I actually saw Brene Brown talking about this on a podcast and I think it's such amazing advice. We go home and we kind of say how are you feeling? And what Brina does with her husband is they say what percentage they are out of 100 and if one's really high like uh 80 the other one's 20 then they're like, ok, cool, like the 80% person will carry the 20% person in support. But if you come home and you're both 20 you have to work out how you're gonna navigate that because otherwise you're just gonna treat each other like shit really because you both need support and you can't give it because you have nothing. And so over communicating is so important. Making sure we find time that we're not talking about work is also very, very, very important and having time where you don't take, I, I try, I find that something we do at kick too. I really, we're not curing cancer at kick. We are making a really big impact on the world and that it's so important and it's why we do what we do, but it's so important as well to remember to take the pressure off and that's like in all elements of life and have fun with it and not take everything too seriously. So I try and make sure that I do that with as well. Um But it's just about trying to find the time when you can and when you can't making sure you communicate it because otherwise you can leave your partner, you know, feeling like unloved and like, you really care about work and it's hard when work is such a big part of your identity, like as it is for me. Um And I think too, the thing with business is you can't control when. So we go through times at work where like, everything's amazing and then you go through a period where everything's so hard and then you kind of come out of it but you have peaks and troughs. But because we both run our own businesses or for, you know, for anyone that has a partner that has a job, like they're gonna have peaks and troughs in their job and they never align. And that's hard because you wanna come out of this high and be like, yes, let's go do all this stuff and then your partner won't be like, no, I'm in a trough like I can't do anything right now, et cetera. So it's just like why that communication is so important. Yeah, I almost wonder if it's like we need to take the pressure off ourselves of always trying to find such good balance because maybe it's not about finding such good balance and it's just about taking it day by day and kind of communicating like you say, versus like putting that extra pressure to have everything be balanced and perfect and a great day every day. And I imagine, especially for you, you know, we were just talking about your relationship with your husband but you also have your business partner as your best friend. You need to also manage your relationship with Steph and make sure that you guys are also keeping your relationship outside of work. You know, prioritizing the other side of the relationship and not always reverting to business and work and these things that we're kind of like striving for as young ambitious professionals trying to get to that next level. Exactly. It is hard though. God, I definitely don't get it right. All the time. Oh my gosh, it is really hard. My husband and I used to work together. He has a software company and now we just work very closely together, but it's difficult to find that, that balance and we talk about it all the time and we often wonder like how other couples manage and other couples do it because of course you're, you're wanting to strive, you know, and, and achieve the goals that you are. And for me personally, we, we haven't had a baby yet but we want to. But then, you know, managing both being kind of um building our own businesses and also then bringing a kid into the mix like it just seems so overwhelming. That is literally my brain right now. And I'm just like, I, I just, it's kind of kids is something that we, we speak about a lot and I, I right now it just feels so overwhelming to even think about it. But it's just, it is, it's such a scary thing with kids because sorry, not scary but how we have biological clocks. And I think for me, I just like, I love kick so much and as I said, work is such a big part of my, my, my identity and my being and I think too, I'm, I'm on obviously with kick, we have this mission to change the way that people feel about their bodies, their relationship with wellness and the relationship with themselves. But then on top of that as well, I really feel the gap for women Fund, like female founders getting funding is just so big. And I want to, I feel like this huge, it's not responsibility, but I, I want to show that we can do it. And I, and so there's that there's that too. And it's like, how do you, you know, change the world and also like, like have a whole life? I don't know. I mean, I don't know if someone knows the answer. You come and tell us my gosh, what is your key piece of advice that you have for small business owners, female founders, entrepreneurs who are building businesses in 2023. So I think, I mean, I mean, there's so much and I, for me, I, I maybe I'll give the advice that I think would have been the most helpful for me. And I think that a lot of female founders in particular struggle with and it's around confidence. I think what I've actually got in because we're currently starting investment conversations for kick and with some of our advisor, the, the biggest advice they keep giving to us is like you have built something that, you know, everyone tries to build a maybe only 5% of, of people and especially with kick because they're profitable. And as a tech company, there's not many businesses that have kind of done what we have bootstrapped to this point. But it is so easy to forget that it is so easy to kind of forget what you have done or what you're capable of and just kind of get bogged down in all the, the, the next part. And like the, you know, the, the problems that come up in business, you have to solve them. Right. And so I think my biggest advice would be. And I think too, it's, I, I mean, the, the gap for women and male and women and men in funding, there's, it's like systematic, there's so many, there's, there's so much to talk about in that. But I think one of the biggest reasons too is that I think sometimes as women, we feel like we have to have every single thing solved and we're so realistic with everything that we don't ever like, I, I know when I've watched a few men pitch, it's so different the way that they do it in terms of like, I'm like, have you done all those calculations? Like, have you done? It's like, no, no, no. But this is where we're gonna get to and the confidence that they have is so big and you have to have that because there's a gap for a reason and there's obviously lots of other reasons that that gap exists. But I think as women, we so often put ourselves down and we also sometimes rely on others to be able to kind of instill that confidence with us in inside of us. But when it comes to your business, I always kind of relate it to a job interview, someone comes in and I interview them for a job at kick. If they don't believe they're good enough to do the job. How am I gonna believe it? I've never met them before and it's the same thing with your business. You have to believe in what you can do because no-one is gonna believe in that for you. And it sounds, I, I know like sometimes people might think like, oh, it's so wishy washy. But truly, I think for, for female founders, confidence and self belief is one of the biggest issues. And I think we all think that we have to have an answer for everything and if we don't, we're good and we're not good enough and we feel like an impostor, but it's not no-one has the answers to everything. Like everyone is working out as they go working as they go and you have to remember that. Yeah, I, I love that. Thank you for sharing that with us. I, I totally agree. I'm actually very um kind of on this journey in the space of investment and, and women founders and investment. I'm I'm talking to a couple of V CS at the moment about doing women's only projects around angel investing, educating the market on what that means, both as someone who wants to invest in other businesses, but also as founders who might not know where to start um in having those conversations what they need, especially in Australia, there's such a big disconnect in what V CS invest in and what women are building. And so it's been interesting kind of moving into this space and, and trying to kind of understand how we can make changes because it is, you're right, it is so systemic. It's from the lemonade state and age right through to school college life now. I mean, oh my gosh, we don't have time for it today, but we should talk about it again. 100%. 0, there's so much even networking. I think that's the other thing like in, in terms of advice. That's another thing I've really, really acknowledged and kind of seen in the difference of the way that women and men work in, in more of a co the corporate world. Men are very, in terms of their network. Like here, I'll connect you with this person. I'll connect you with this person. I'll connect you with this person. Women, I, as women, we're very conscious of, of being a burden on people. So I think we're less, we're less likely to, to, you know, try and go after like, try and connect with someone because we're like, oh, we don't want to be a burden to them or whatever. And then we're also less likely I feel to connect people because we're, we don't want to be a burden on that person. And what I have, I like what I've seen with, with guys. Like they don't, they don't even think about that. They don't have that thought and network is power, like, especially in terms of investment, it's like someone could connect you with the right person and you can get your investment in a week. I mean, after this, I feel like I can connect you to a lot of people do, you know. But that's so it's, I don't know. That's another thing that I've, it's really interesting. We're very different in terms of our thinking and everything.

I heard someone say to be great. You just need to be good consistently and that really resonated with me, but it can be tough to figure out where to focus and how to overcome the feeling of overwhelm when you're doing all the things. Sounds familiar, right? I've been there and I know how great it is when you have someone by your side being your hype girl and sharing the expert knowledge and value that you need to get from A to B to C today. I'm excited to share with you the launch of my coaching and consulting services. If you're a founder and you need guidance and support with your marketing and sales, let's do it. Or maybe you're a business owner wanting to level up a star player in your team. Yeah, let's do that too. Or maybe you're in a corporate company and you're looking for someone to consult and execute on an out of the box campaign. I can do that too with a decade of experience in brand strategy and content creation for major brands like Snapchat, the iconic and IMG combined with interviewing more than 500 of the world's most impressive founders, building my own businesses, leveraging viral content strategies and my insider knowledge of the VC world. I've got a unique vantage point to help you achieve your goals and I would love to be your hype girl. I'm only taking on a limited number of clients right now and you can learn more by going to female startup club dot com forward slash coaching. Welcome back. Here are the six quick questions. Question number one is, what's your, why, why do you wake up every day and focus on kick? So for me every day with kick and what we're doing and what our why is we are here to change the relationship people have with not just their health but with themselves and to really, I think as women and young women and non-binary people, we have it kind of society, all the things around us, tell us the way that we look, the way that our bodies look, the smaller that they are matters and it has something to do with what we can achieve and our worth as humans. And that is absolutely not the case at all. And so we exist at kick to try and change that and change the narrative and um stop because the diet cycle is is so it's dangerous like the eating disorder rates in Australia and globally are really, really high. And also it's, it's such, it's a it's a mental disease and eating disorder and it's, it's not fair for people that have to, to go through it. It's a horrible thing to go through. Um, there's that, but then also there's so many people that let the way that their body looks and how much they eat and how much they exercise, control their lives, um, and not enable them to live the life that they want to live. And so, yeah, we, we want to change it at kick. Gosh. Amazing question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? I think the brand relaunch that we just did. So we just rebranded from Keep it Cleaner to kick. And we came up with, we, we interviewed our community surveyed them and we got over 1000 responses about what are the toxic diet rules that they have felt that they have to be bound by. So like if you don't sweat, like your workout wasn't worth it worth it. You know, you can't eat carbs like carbs are the enemy that you have to look a certain way to be a runner like all of these things. And so what we did was we flipped all those rules with provocations and we put this big mirror up on Bondi Beach um with the provocation on it that anybody is a beach body. Oh, I love that. There's no such thing as you know, we get all this stuff like online like summer bodies made in winter and all this shit, like it's truly shit. And so we wanted to go against all of that. Um And we printed these t-shirts and it was just, it was so special to be, be able to connect with people and really, really, really stand bold in our mission in, in what we're doing. So that's the best moment. Oh my gosh. That is so damn cool. Love it. Question number three is what's your go to business resource if you have to think about a book or a podcast or a newsletter that you're consuming at the moment. So right now because we are going through the funding process or starting conversations for kick, I am listening to a podcast. It's either called 20 VC or VC 20. Um Do you know it? Yes, with Harry Stens, I think, or Harry, if I marked up his surname, his name anyway, he is a VC himself. I really find it fantastic. He interviews a lot of founders, a lot of other V CS in what they're looking for. And for me, for someone that has not grown up in a family where we spoke about him, investment or had any kind of, I have just have not been exposed to it in any way. So I have had so much to learn and I think knowledge is power and I can't like for, for me to go into these investment conversations, the more knowledge I can have an understanding of the system. Obviously, the better outcome we'll be able to get for kick. Um And so I am listening to that podcast 24 7 Love. We're gonna link it in the show notes for anyone who wants to check it out. It is a very good one. Question. Number four is how do you win the day? What are your rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful? So I try to do something for myself in the morning. I find, I try and win the morning because like who the heck knows what's gonna go on after I leave the house. You know, you never know what's gonna happen in the day and what, what life's gonna throw and what the business is gonna throw at you. So I try and do something in the morning for myself to set my day up and I feel in control of it, it, it usually is a kick workout. But if I don't have energy or a run, but if I don't have energy to do that, sometimes I'll just wash my hair or something. I feel like that is a gift to yourself. Um But just trying to do something small in the morning for me. Love a small moment of joy. Question number five is what's been your worst money mistake in the business? And how much did it cost you? So worst money mistake is from not spending money on lawyers. I think when you first start your company legal bills and fees, like some lawyers or a lot of them charge 800 to $1000 an hour. And that money is like unfathomable to be able to invest in that. Um, and you know, when you sit in meetings with them, there's three of them, you're like, oh, my goodness, like this is just so expensive. And so if you feel like it's, you just try and work things out yourself. And that is one of the biggest mistakes we have made. I don't know the total amount that it has cost us. But Steph and I we have entered into some contracts that have cost us a lot of stress and also a lot of money because we did not get lawyers to check the contract and we trusted in others that you just should never do and that's our fault. It's not their fault. It's our fault. Mm God, that's a key insight. Last question. Question number six. What is a crazy story? Good or bad you can share from your journey building kick. You've already shared so many good ones. Oh maybe if I this is just so crazy and it's, it's kind of kick related but kind of not but one of the um and this is just some crazy thing that came to my mind just then that through um a brand that I work with their, their ambassador was David Beckham and I'm also an ambassador for this company and I um met him and then he split into my D MS.

00:07:10Edit Oh my God. What I love that for you. You know, find nothing bad but it was just so I was like, oh my God, I am, I'm I am now 1 to 1 connection. Like what, what more can you want out of life? I love that for you. That's a great one. Thanks. Oh my gosh, Laura. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your journey and your insights. I, I'm such a hype girl. Love what you do. Oh, thank you. Thank you for the support and thank you for having me on the podcast. I love, I love what you're doing. So I really appreciate it.



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