80% of women report issues related to their period, from irregularities and inconsistencies, to debilitating pain that doesn’t seem to subside. The Founders of Food Period (discount code THEMENTORS20) are on a mission to help women everywhere through a completely natural process called seed syncing. They’ve simplified the complicated seed consumption protocol by creating delicious energy bites that get sent to your door every month. Within just a few months, for less than the cost of a protein bar, customers have reported major improvements in their periods – all without taking any medication.
This episode starts from the very beginning, when founders Britt Martin and Jenn Kim met in boarding school. They quickly developed a friendship that would last through college, where they would have long phone calls brainstorming different business ideas with the dream of starting their own company one day. That day came years later, after Britt started attending NYU to study business journalism after working in finance for years, and Jen was living in Seoul doing branding work for major clients like Facebook. The idea came from a personal problem. Britt had been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and after undergoing chemo her period stopped completely. In an effort to avoid putting more chemicals in her body, she sought healthy alternatives and discovered seed syncing, the process of taking a specific set of seeds at specific times every single day.
Soon after her period came back, her and Jenn realized that this is something many women could benefit from. After surveying hundreds of women, they realized that a majority had some issues related to their period, validating that there could be a lot of demand for their solution. Within 2 weeks, Jenn moved from South Korea to run the business with Britt. In this episode we dive into deep detail to uncover how this business was built, from how Food Period has been able to grow completely organically with zero advertising to how the two best friends deal with conflict when making critical decisions.
We also learn about their process for building out the supply chain for the business, and even dissect how they think about pricing. If you think this product can help you, you can get $20 off of your first box of Food Period by using the code THEMENTORS20 at checkout.
0:30 Food Period creates functional food products that improve menstrual health
0:44 Sergei has been working with this team at the NYU Summer Launchpad Accelerator
1:30 The cofounders first met in boarding school in Canada where they immediately got along
3:30 After High School they went their separate ways. Britt went to the UK and Jenn went to Boston.
4:20 They kept in touch and continued talking about different businesses they would start
5:00 Sergei: What’s the funniest or dumbest idea that you tried?
5:16 For some reason they kept thinking of ideas that required a tech cofounder, which neither of them are
5:50 Vadim: Why did you guys want to start a company together?
6:00 They knew they wanted to have their own business, because when they started working in the real world they would have phone calls for hours wondering if this is all there is to working life
6:46 Sergei: What was it about the day to day that turned you off from the real world working life?
7:06 Just being so disconnected from the end result of their work and not always being passionate about the work
7:40 Vadim: How did the idea for food period come about and how did you start working on it?
7:51 Britt moved back to NYC for a Masters degree after working in Finance.
8:00 Called Jenn and told her the idea and she actually said, “when do I move to NYC”?
8:10 Sometimes the right idea can spur you into action. Having insight into an idea that gets you excited is how many people get off the ground, even if the idea later changes.
8:40 Sergei: I know this problem came from a personal story you had. How did you come across this idea?
9:03 2.5 years ago Britt was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma
9:12 During that time she stopped getting her period, and her doctors acted like it was normal, and that the birth control pill would help her get back on her normal cycle
9:40 Britt didn’t want to put more hormones and chemicals in her body
10:04 She went to every doctor she could find and that’s when she heard about seed syncing (or seed cycling), which involves eating 4 different seeds in 4 different combinations.
10:57 After following this protocol her period came back to normal
11:20 When she moved to NYC and stopped seed syncing her period stopped coming back, so this is how she tested if the seeds worked
11:50 She had been making them into energy bites, and a business idea was born because she thought other women would need this.
12:10 Jenn knew this is a brand that could make a difference in women’s lives. So Jenn decided to move from Seoul, South Korea.
12:20 Vadim: How did you know that there’s a big enough market where enough women are affected by this issue with their period?
12:34 At NYU they really hammer home the idea of customer discovery so you can figure out your customer segment and market as soon as possible
12:50 They started talking to women about their periods, and surveyed 250 women
13:10 One thing to listen out for here, is the reason why they noticed this as a problem they could solve. They were already thinking about a business they could start. They were listening for business ideas
14:00 Vadim: You also figured out a business with a product you could create yourself, and not depend on an engineer
14:24 Sergei: How far along were you when Jenn decided to leave South Korea?
14:45 Jenn quit her job within a week, and moved to NY a month later
15:13 Having worked a few years they had a bit of savings saved up
15:20 Jenn worked in design for big clients, but they already have brand guidelines and it was strict, and she wanted to unleash her creativity. It was important for Jenn to feel like the product was her own, not someone else’s.
17:30 Even Britt was surprised that Jenn would quit her job and leave her country for this, which put the pressure on to execute.
18:05 But they had a lot of trust for each other
18:30 Being best friends with your cofounder makes things even more exciting. But it also means you also know each other’s flaws and nothing is hidden
18:52 Our strength is that we’re so open with each other that we just talk about everything right away
19:46 Sergei: What’s the first step that you took in starting this company?
19:55 Applied to the accelerator first, and didn’t even get an interview
20:25 Needed to start anyway. Decided to come up with a brand identity first – logo/website
20:41 And started working on the recipe for their moon bites to commercialize the seed syncing practice
21:01 Vadim: How did you get to the moon bite idea?
21:03 They experimented with users and realized that they couldn’t have just one bar people would eat – too much. Turned it into little balls
21:45 Vadim: How did you get your first customers?
22:19 Britt started telling some friends about her side business and one friend in class one day asked to buy some
23:40 They were never timid to talk about their product because they knew from reading about startups that you shouldn’t be too protective of your idea and start talking to potential customers right away.
24:38 Made the first few out of their kitchen and now make it out of a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn, which is the only way to have it certified
24:57 Sergei: How did you continue to get more customers?
25:03 Still have yet to do paid advertising. Have been talking about it to people early on and have been getting all their customers through word of mouth.
25:50 But sometimes have to do individual sales with them because still need to educate the customer about seed syncing.
26:09 Instagram has been helping, from 2,500 followers.
26:39 Sergei: We’ve learned that it’s important to have a product that has some pull in the market where people are asking you for it once it’s there.
27:11 Sergei: You also have a monthly renewal baked in because people need this every month
27:46 They only really see churn after month 1, if they use beyond month 1 they’re committed.
28:20 Have had some customers renew for 9 months
28:40 Vadim: How did you come up with your price point?
28:50 They looked at possible competitors like supplements and daily snack bars, and when you break down the $68/mo it’s only $2.34/day which is equivalent to an RX bar a day.
29:30 Didn’t do a cost analysis – just guessed what was going to be reasonable and charged it
30:34 Sergei: Tell us about how much you raised and how
30:58 Raised $104,000 in non-dilutive grant funding to date
31:10 $75,000 of that was from the NYU 300K competition
31:33 Been full time since the beginning – in it to win it!
31:48 Started NYU Summer Launchpad Accelerator this summer with about 40 customers, grew 79% the following month, and have been growing ever since.
32:20 Sergei: How will you grow from here?
32:25 Been doing it through word of mouth because of limited production capacity. Working with co-packers to set up supply chain to put their growth strategies into plans.
33:05 Health influencers on social media like nutritionists have worked well so they will double down on that strategy.
34:10 Go back and forth on whether they should raise money or not. Want ownership but also want to change the world, and you might need money for that.
36:00 Can find them on Instagram at Food.Period and foodperiod.com.
38:00 Use the code THEMENTORS20 at check out when you purchase at Foodperiod.com for $20 off your first order.