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Bubble's Shai Eisenman asked 5000 teens what they wanted from a skincare company and created that

Updated: Sep 27

Today we are learning from Shai, the founder of Bubble.


We’re talking through the approach they took with community and a specific blueprint for how they actually got 5000 teens involved before launch, they use gene pap too btw - which I thought was really cool - and a few thoughts on fundraising and why we should question what’s being celebrated in the media.


If you haven’t heard of it just yet, Bubble is a skincare brand for teens that’s replace those brands we’ve been using for decades, while being super fun. Highly recommend checking them out on tiktok. it’s definitely a vibe.


When I asked Shai what she would do with $1000 no strings attached cash, she immediately said market research on the platform perksy - which was a first time being mentioned - if you would like $1000 no strings attached cash remember we just kicked off our monthly cash giveaway and you can put yourself forward by going to femalestartupclub.com/1000-cash-giveaway.

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


00:04:40

So. I'm Shai. I'm the founder of Bubble. Bubble is the next generation skincare brand created for young skin. So if you see every possible skincare brand out there, there are skincare products for every age, every price point, every skin type. But then when you look at teens and younger generations and lower price points and something that is targeted towards acne and targeted towards being more accessible, there is literally nothing out there. All the brands that teens are still using today are still Neutrogena instead of filling, clean and clear and Mario Badescu and survey and all these brands that are, they usually are not very excited by them.

00:05:50 They're not really, you know, um it's a bit weird and hard to say this, but they don't really want to use them. It's not like they opened the box of their Neutrogena and they're like, this is the best thing I've ever, even the Mambo Exactly, supermarket and it's the same brands that I used and it's the same and brands that my mom used and some of them are even the same brands that my grandmother used, so really wanted to create a bubble to change that and to create something that will give them something healthier and better that they'll be excited about but will actually help them clear their skin and create kind of use something that they'll love and would actually work for them. Yeah, it's definitely an exciting brand. I think actually first discovered you on Tiktok and was like, wait, what? This is so fun Obviously the packaging is super cool and super unique, but let's not get into that just yet. I sometimes get ahead of myself. I want to go back to that like early initial story, let's start at the beginning, what got you interested in this space in the first place and what got you interested in starting your own business?

00:06:59 So I, this is actually, I'm very grateful for this to be the third company that I'm actually running. I've had kind of a different path because I started my bait 15 and started working full time at 16. And um, I managed the company at 21 because somebody decided to basically place a bet on me, which I made every possible mistake, but it was an amazing experience. So, um, and I got exposed to the beauty world by working on the project with one of the former ceo of one of the beauty giants and I fell in love with the industry and this was the first time that I actually discovered that you don't need to be a chemist to start a beauty brand. This always seemed to me is something that you need to be a term. You need to be a chemist. You need to be, have some kind of background in the industry. And suddenly I realized that it doesn't really work this way and that you can actually create brands in a very different way in a very different perspective. My passion was always about very emotionally driven purchase behaviors and always about really something that is very, very, very focused on creating the emotional connection with the consumer and that you know, there's a very different feeling when you buy something that is more of a necessity rather than something that you love.

00:08:15 Something that you, you know you want to look at your in your bathroom or that you want to look at in your closet. And I was always fascinated by this emotional kind of connection to consumers. So I wanted to create a brand that is all about that. So spend time researching and just spend a very long time trying to figure out what is still missing and what is still In this industry hasn't been invented because this was back then, this was 2018, there were 500 you brands coming into the market every year and the industry was so saturated of millennial brands that it felt like there is no room for any innovation and any new developments. And then I started looking into the teen category based on a conversation that I've had with actually 18 and I was shocked because it seems like the whole explosion of Millennial Burns didn't affect them whatsoever and that they were still using the same Neutrogena how that I used. And then when I started digging into this more, I was just very shocked about the fact that there was nothing available for them, nothing exciting, nothing that they loved.

00:09:22 And I think that actually worked for them. They were all still using Proactiv. And so I felt like this is a beautiful opportunity to create something that is going to be better for them, that is going to be right for them, but they're going to be excited by and that they'll actually want to use because I think as a team, we all know that feeling of not wanting to wash your face and not wanting to remove your makeup, I also personally have a five year old, so I see this as like, really great way to kind of give younger people something that is better and healthier that they'll be excited about totally Gosh, how exciting. I know that you launched technically last year october november ish. And you were in development for like a year and a half before that, when I see your brand, now, I position it next to the likes of brands like Glossier and Star Face that are kind of bold, they look great on a shelf. They are that gen, z kind of vibe and I get the vibe that you didn't start small and I'm going out on a limb here to say, I get the vibe that you weren't starting with a Bootstrap kind of mindset, are you able to share, kind of what your approach was going into building the business in terms of finance capital, but also in terms of your vision for the brand and what you wanted it to become and follow on question for that?

00:10:48 Is that comparable to where you are now? So I think we've been working on the brand for more than two years before we launched and it's been a super, super extensive process and I think, you know, you mentioned some beautiful and amazing brands that I think I'm very excited and proud to be mentioned alongside them, but I think we see our goal as something different. We want to be that brand you pick up instead of the Neutrogena instead of that survey, instead of that clean and clear. You know, we all rubbed pure alcohol in our skin with with the thoughtful approach of clean and clear. Um so we really wanted to create a brand that is going to be changing what teams are currently using rather than adding something on top of it and adding something that they will be fun for them. I'm an aesthetics wise. Yeah, Just to clarify, no, no, all good. I just just wanted to mention it. Um so we got into this in a very different way because we started everything with very extensive research. So we started with conducting focus groups with 200 teens.

00:11:52 Then we did like full quantitative research with 900 teens And then we created a community of 4600 teens that for months and months and until today we're talking to them spending all our time, talking to them to really kind of understand, what are they using, what excites them. What are they passionate about, how are they different from millennials like me and how can we create something that they would actually love? So everything we've done was rooted in tens of research and obviously research costs, money. We had to fundraise and but I'm a huge, huge, huge believer despite that into how fundraising is not a milestone, but it's more of a tool to achieve certain milestone. It's a tool to launch a brand. It's a tool to achieve certain revenue threshold, it's a tool to get into a retailer. So this is why we're not big believer is like, we've raised x amount of money from this and this investors, but rather more of like how do we get to, you know, nine figure revenues? How do we get to be in 10,000 doors?

00:12:56 How do we get to be available internationally and focus on these milestones? We have some amazing partners and amazing investors and we've been very, very fortunate to be able to have like some initial support on the like to have some initial funding, but then to focus in a really great way on how to create the business to be profitable and focus, I wouldn't call it bootstrapping because obviously we fund raised, but how do we scale this with as little fundraising as possible and as little funding as possible rather than constantly get into the fundraising game. I think it's really interesting what you say about not publishing kind of the details of your fundraising. That's something I wasn't able to find online at all. And it's funny because when you see people on the pages of Forbes or the pages of Techcrunch, it's really celebrating that enormous raise, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars versus like what you said, the milestones, and then there are these brands who are reaching those milestones, but also they've just been bootstrapped, but there not being celebrated in that kind of like way.

00:14:06 It's, it's like the new hustle culture is like this new, you've gotta fundraise to get on the pages or get this like, stamp or something. So I think that's really interesting that you're taking that path and I love that, I'm trying to understand, like when you thought about the vision and I guess, I don't know how you want to like which way you want to take this, but like, when you thought about the vision, were you thinking like, hey, I'm going to give away a lot of equity straight up to fundraise a lot of money and basically grow this huge genomics business, or like, what was the kind of thought process for you? I guess what I'm trying to say is when I think about myself and my own journey, when I'm thinking about money for raising the non our brand. There's so many different camps and thoughts of advice out there. And of course you've just got to find what's comfortable for you and like which direction you should go. But I speak to people for example, I spoke to someone in M and A recently and his advice was like, hey, if the U. S. Is your market that you want to focus on in the beginning, raise a lot of money, like give away a lot of equity, just go out there, take market share, like spend the money to get in those doors that you want, spend the money to acquire customers, do all that stuff.

00:15:18 And then of course there's the flip side of people being like, wait as long as you can bootstrap for as long as you can and then go and raise money or see if you can not. And it's hard to know which direction to take. So I'm always interested to see what other people's thoughts are. So I think the way I look at it is first of all, every business is different and every path is different and every founder is different for us. It was we had to manufacture the products, it was, we had like minimum for manufacturing. We had to conduct a lot of market research and we wanted to create a really thoughtful brands. So this had to come with fundraising, I wouldn't say serious, I would say very minimal fundraising for a company in our stage, but we had to get external funding. I also invested a lot of my own personal capital, but still like it was very minimal compared to, um, I would say other brands and in our stage, I think it really depends of like, what's the industry, what's the product, What's the milestone that you're looking to achieve? Every path is very, very different and every path has so many different factors.

00:16:24 Right? Like, for example, if it's, um, what's your margins, what's the retailers you can get to? Some of them have slotting fees, some of them have, you know, additional things and additional ties attached to it. Um, what is your ability to manufacture? What are the payment terms that you can get with your suppliers? It is so many different combinations. What is the marketing strategy? Is it the type of industry that requires extensive marketing or I think every industry requires extensive marketing, but I think Some industries requires a lot more. I like to call it like, how many times does the user needs to see you before they actually make a purchase. So some industry requires like 9, 12 times before that may they make that decision? Like skin care just because skin care is a very emotional thing and you're very nervous, especially when you're younger to try something on your skin? And some industries requires less of convincing, Right? Like I'm more likely to try some new cool water than I am likely to try and use skincare products on my skin.

00:17:26 So I think it really depends and I think a big thing and that's something that was challenging to me at first, because this is my second startup. And I think in the first one, I was kind of trying to find what is right for me based on looking at other founders and like what other people have done and you know, I have friends that raised $600 million and I have friends who completely bootstrapped the business to be generating 200 million in revenues. So it was really, really challenging to see and try to think, okay, what's right for me and what, and it's, it's so many different factors, margins is a huge part of it because some industries truly allow you to bootstrap beautiful business just because of the crazy margins and because of the fact that it doesn't require a lot of manufacturing, a lot of services businesses are like that. So, I think it really depends for me. You know, I never looked at funding and I never looked at fundraising As something, you know, when I saw all these headlines like X company just raised $200 million dollars for me, that seems like this is actually, you know, and it's very, as somebody who, you know, wants to be successful in the beginning, you're like, they're so successful and this is amazing.

00:18:39 But then I started looking at it as like, wow that's a lot of capital to take from investors and you actually need to justify that valuation now and you actually need to like to get your company to be acquired or I. P. O. In a price. So obviously funding makes your chances better and money makes your chances better to achieve these milestones. But this could also end up in like this huge huge um just very bad situation because if you took 200 million from investors and you're not finding the end path to actually justify that, that's a very very very challenging situation totally totally. And we're seeing that kind of thing like businesses who have taken on huge amounts of funding unraveling and yeah you can see that sometimes that can be a lot of stress on the founders. I 100% agree. But I think it's more than that. I think there's like culture in today's world Because there's a lot of money out there because there's this huge inflation, there's this culture of like let's pay $2 for a user that is going to give us $1.

00:19:48 And it's something that again, I think at a certain point of time of your brand, it could make sense. But generally speaking, I think a lot of us forget the fact that eventually the goal of the business is to be profitable and I think so many brands are so focused in this fundraising game and getting into certain milestones based on investing so much money and marketing that they forget the fact that The true goal is actually to show that this business can be profitable. It could take three years, could take fighters, it could take 10 years, but that's the end goal. And I think this is why it's like sometimes it's so easy to get caught up with these big headlines of like X rays, why, um, and forget that. It's not about that. That's not a true milestone. I, I totally agree. I totally agree with you. I think about this kind of thing all the time and it can make you feel really like, oh, they've hit that. It feels like a goal instead of like it being just part of the journey to get to the goals and it can make you feel very like, like of course, you know, it looks all easy and I know what you mean.

00:20:57 Yeah. Two. Sure. Uh huh. Hey, hey, it's doing here. I'm just popping in to bring you a quick message in every episode of the FSC show. You'll hear women who were just like you trying to figure it all out and hustled to grow their business. And I would know a lot of you might be sitting there asking yourself, but how do I actually scale my revenue and get to that next level from where I am now. You also know that so many of the entrepreneurs I speak to have mentioned facebook and instagram ads as a crucial part of their marketing myths from today onwards. I'm really excited to be able to offer our fsc, small business owners and entrepreneurs and no strings attached, our long chat with leading performance marketing agency amplifier, who you might also remember from our D. I. Y course, full disclosure amplifier is my husband's business. And what's really important to know is that I've been able to witness first hand the transformation of so many businesses going from as low as $10,000 a month, All the way to $300,000 a month and in some cases upwards to seven figures.

00:22:14 So if you're listening in and you feel like you're ready to take your business to the next level, jump on a no strings attached call with amplifier where you can ask all the questions you have about performance, marketing and whether it's the right time for you and your business to get started. Go to female startup club dot com forward slash ads. That's female startup Club dot com forward slash A. D. S and booking a call today. I want to switch topics to talk about your marketing. I'm super interested to hear kind of what you were doing in the lead up to launch and then what you've been doing kind of since obviously you guys have this incredible presence on Tiktok, you work with a lot of influences that I could see both, some who are really notable, smaller that kind of thing. So I'd love to hear your strategy and your approach and what's working amazing. So The way we look at it is again, like 2021 is such a much more challenging landscape than 2016 was in the 2015 work was so it's a very, very different ball game and there are so many new brands coming into the market and there are so their competition on the same number of users.

00:23:30 It's not like, you know, um, suddenly the world has expanded, but there are so many new brands coming into the market every day that just the competition has become so challenging. And because of that, the way we look at our marketing strategy is a very, very multilayered approach. We have, you know what everyone is doing, which is paid ads which were constantly in the world of IOS 14 5, there's so much we're trying to do there and so much we're trying to learn there and then we have our other areas which are more brand building focus, which is more of the celebrities and influencers and more around um, brand ambassadors and we have the celebrities we work with which are the face of the brand and then we have the micro influencers which we have a roster of over 1000 influencers which we work with on a regular basis and then we have our brand ambassadors, which we have 2000 brand ambassadors which are constantly where we have a community with them, we constantly are in touch with them, they try all our new product and they are truly a part of the team that is shaping bubble.

00:24:35 So we constantly work in these kind of different areas to get the brand out there and you know, show different things and different initiatives were doing if it's back to school, if products are going to be releasing, if it's our walmart launch and it's the constant between these different areas. Again, the constant thought around It takes a user 9-12 times to actually make the decision to purchase a product. So you need to show them different angles of the brand, you need to show different perspectives. Um the celebrities we work with are truly amazing and they've been a part of the brand way before we've launched, we are very proud to be working with them and they're just amazing group of people that have been true part of shaping the brand um and there are the face of the brand, so you know, they're doing so much and actually like from getting the brand out there to helping us create new products and try or learn new products and just be a part of kind of rethinking process and our strategy. Yeah, I saw you were working with Hiram for your like skincare quiz and skin care education and when it falls to those kind of celebrity relationships that you have and obviously you're doing things at such scale to have 2000 ambassadors to have, You know 5000 people in a focus group to have a group of celebrities, not even just one that's just so incredible when it comes to those top tier people that you work with tactically speaking, how do you approach a partnership like that and like from even just identifying to then actually reaching out like what is it that attracts them to you and to say like yeah, let's work together.

00:26:16 Like I agree to put my name next to yours. So it's something that is actually has been a really interesting process and a pretty big learning curve. Um there's a lot of areas around it and there's around there's always agents and managers involved and there is always and it's a lot around you know creating relationships and very different. But I would say that the biggest thing for us was the fact that we created the community and we constantly listen to consumers because the moment we started listening to consumers, we started identifying people that were on the rise and we started identifying people when they were right before they started like peeking so like right before they started becoming these huge names, we all know, so like for example the Outer Banks stars. So we had in our community and netflix room and we saw every team out there talking about Outer Banks in the first kind of week that the show came out and the moment we started seeing that happening, we were like okay, we have to talk to these people because this is going to be the next stranger things, the next Riverdale, like this is going to be insane.

00:27:22 And then we started building relationships with the agents and the managers and with the talents, which I would say like the talent that we work with an Outer Banks have been such an amazing part of the brand and I personally love them so much. Um, but we've been talking to them from literally the first week that the show came out on netflix when no adult knew that this show even existed. So this was a very, you know, this was kind of the process of like how do we find these up and coming names that are going to be right for the brand, that are going to be right for what we want to create, but not in that moment in time that it's a certain moment in time, it's just impossible to get these relationships. So For us, it was everything we've ever done was always about how do we listen to consumers because they know best and that helps us kind of understand the marketing strategy, understand where to go. We talked about Tiktok since 2019, like When I was pitching to investors in early 2019, I said we are going to be the first brand, Allen Tiktok and then obviously the pandemic happened, everybody went on Tiktok and it was eight months before we launched.

00:28:33 So this was impossible. But we didn't like see it coming because we, we're so smart. It's just because we saw teams using it and then we figured, okay, we need to be there. My follow up question to this is, I feel like everyone says build community. That's like a known thing, right? Build community, build community, build community. But how did you actually Build these focus groups of 4000 people into a room or a Facebook group or Geneva Home or whatever. Like how did you find these teens and get them excited about what you were doing? Like what does that look like? Um, so we actually did like um, like an instagram ad, which was very simple, very straightforward, like saying, do you want to be a part of a skincare launch? And then a lot of teams just joined in that process was amazing because it managed for us to scale very quickly in terms of building our brand ambassador program and building kind of a relationship in our market research and understanding or consumers. But it also has challenges because the internet is filled with trolls.

00:29:38 So we had a lot of challenging moments in the community because of that before we launched. But it was all kind of a part of the process and we've learned a ton from it, but this was kind of our way and we've done it nine months before we launched. So it was for us a way to really kind of understand our consumers, but also to give them something better during quarantine and be able to support them. And we gave them like free access to dermatologists or their pathologists in the team. And we gave them the ability to talk to our product developer to learn more about their skin care products and just, you know, get to talk to each other and just have something to be a part of when it was so lonely and quarantine. So we this was such an amazing part of kind of our journey. I love that so much. I feel really like specifically inspired by that as an idea, like a clear blueprint of how to do it and I have a million ideas in my head racing. That's really, really cool. Thank you for sharing that. When you say there was challenges that come with that and trolls, what do you mean specifically what was the challenge from that?

00:30:44 It's just think of all the terrible things you went through in high school and all the challenges you went through in high school, put a group of a few 1000 teens and one chatroom and just let your imagination work basically got it 11 further follow up question while we're on this. What text did you use for the community? Geneva use Geneva, which is actually which was actually made me excited to hear that you said, was that the Geneva home? Because we were, I think the first group on Geneva, we were there when it was like pretty, pretty beta vote. So I'm like excited that now people are like going it, that's so cool. Amazing platform. We have a private network for female startup club entrepreneurs and we are housed on Geneva thanks to one of my listeners telling me about it because I never heard about it and I love it, it's so great and I love the team to they're really nice people agreed, what do you think your superpower is? You've done a lot, you're young, your brand is amazing, it looks cool, it's doing cool stuff for the world, What's your superpower?

00:31:55 Think superpower is a big word. Um I think it's it's and I think it's also like, it cannot be again in today's environment, it cannot be one thing, but I would say like the main thing that I feel like we created a difference and that I would just love more brands to do is by listening to consumers. So when I launched my last startup, I came into this, like, and it ended well overall, but it was like the whole process of like, I think I know best I have this problem, I'm gonna solve this, this is what this is what I'm gonna do to fix this and just created this entire product based on a vision without truly listening and understanding if other people had that problem, and with bubble, the approach was completely different, it was like, we know nothing listen to our consumers to truly understand what they want, what they're looking for, what they're excited by what they hate, why are they using certain products, who buys their products?

00:33:00 How do they choose products? And that was what changed everything for us, even with the decision, so we just launched the nearly 4000 Walmart a few weeks ago, um thank you, which we were super excited about. It was an amazing journey, um so it was like an amazing process to work with this incredible company, but the choice of walmart wasn't an obvious choice because being in new york city, you know, you don't even have a walmart, so you have a very, very different kind of perspective of like Where to put the brand out there, and then when we listen to consumers, we start at 41% of them. our once to twice a month in walmart, and then we figured, okay, this is definitely definitely the right place for us to be and to create that accessibility and to create the product that we wanted to be out there, and we wanted to be available for everyone, and we realized that a lot of teams don't have a credit card, so they need to pay in cash. so this is why wal mart is a perfect choice and they don't have a car and they need to get their parents to drive it, like walmart has the best accessibility from a retailer perspective, no other retailer has this kind of accessibility, so this was like the main kind of reason why I think everything we've done was so rooted in research, Gosh, I love that, that is so cool and so interesting to hear it coming truly from that perspective, incredible.

00:34:26 Thank you What is your key piece of advice for entrepreneurs who happen to be women? I think it's as wome