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How to create a 5,000 person waitlist for your DTC startup with pet care brand FABLE Co-Founder Sophie Bakalar

by Female Startup Club
June 1st 2021
00:51:11
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Joining me on the show today is Sophie Bakalar, co-founder of FABLE. 

FABLE is a direct-to-consumer product innovation studio that solves real problems for pets and their humans through thoug... More

before we dive into the show today we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network. Something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup, Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is Sophie baccala for female startup club. No, hey everyone, it's doing here, your host and hype girl joining me on the show. Today is Sophie baccala, the co founder of Fable Fable is a director, consumer product innovation studio that solves real problems for pets and their humans through thoughtful functional designs. The brand leverages the latest research in pet wellness, designing the most convenient, versatile, secure and durable gear to help you appreciate every moment with your pet inside and outside the home.

In this episode, we're chatting through the lessons learned after spending time working in VC what to do and what not to do when you're pitching your startup idea, How she built a 5000 person waiting list through thoughtful design and why you shouldn't keep your idea a secret before launching. If you're listening to this firstly, thanks And secondly, I am just so excited, we've got some really exciting things in the works and what I can say is that we're about to launch our new brand. Look and feel it's been a few months in the making right now and I am just on the edge of my seat to share it with you. Also please keep your eyes peeled and if you're not already on our mailing list, pop over and drop your email in to be the first to see the new look when it comes out. I can't wait to share it with you. Okay, let's get stuck into this episode. This is Sophie for female startup club. Yeah. Are you working around the clock to build the business you always imagined?

Do you want to communicate with your fast growing list of customers in a personalized way. But in a way that gives you time to work on the rest of your business. Do you ever wonder how the companies you admire the ones that redefine their categories do it? Companies like living proof and chubbies. They do it by building relationships with their customers from the very beginning while also evolving in real time as their customers needs change. These companies connect quickly with their customers, collect their information and start creating personalized experiences and offers that inspire rapid purchase often within minutes of uploading their customer data. Clavijo empowers you to own the most important thing to any business. The relationship between you and your customers and the experiences you deliver from the first email to the last promotion to learn more about how Clavijo helps you own your growth visit Clavijo dot com slash f S C. That's K L A V I Y O dot com slash f S C.

Female startup Capri since Sophie Hi and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hi, thank you so much for having me. It's so great to be here. I'm really excited to dig in. Me too. I'm so excited to dig in. I always love to start by getting you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what your business actually is. Yeah, absolutely. So my name is Sophie, I'm the co founder and co Ceo of Fable. It's an e commerce business focus in the pet space and we think of ourselves kind of as an innovation lab for pets. So we like to really focus on design and problem solving around the specific pain points that pets and people have, particularly, you know, young pet parents in cities that's sort of what we are. And so that tends to be our focus but very broadly pets and people across the board and yeah, we really orient around what are specific pain points that this customer has and how can we solve them through being more thoughtful about product design.

So creating leashes, collars, harnesses, beds, bowls, creates all of the products that pets and their humans use every single day, but really rethinking the very fundamental core design process and making products that just don't exist anywhere else in the market. Yeah, a lot of the things I saw in your website work so unique to me and I was like I don't even know what that is but it looks really cool, that's what we like to hear, I don't know what it is. Let me tell you about it. Really important question 1st. Do you have dogs in the office? Is your office one of those officers with lots of pets? Uh huh. Once upon a time it sure was. We do not have an office right now because everyone is remote and everybody has dogs at their home offices of course. Um but once upon a time, yeah, pre covid pre pandemic. We had a very, very pet friendly office which I highly recommend for a number of reasons. There's a lot of evidence that having pets in an office can be really good for morale and and work ethic and just keeping everybody emotionally and productive productivity of lee I don't know on track, I know what you mean, I know what you mean, I just love officers with dogs, they are just the best.

So the best. Yeah, but let's go back to when this all started, I want to kind of rewind and go back to the time where you actually thought about starting this brand and where the entrepreneurial pathway kind of kicked off for you. Yeah I mean to really talk about The entrepreneurial pathway, you kind of have to go to the previous business that we started which um my co founder and I had started an enterprise task business back in 2015 and that was data visualization software for management consultants, so very, very different space really could not be farther from pet products. And I only mention that because I at least started that for all the wrong reasons, I wanted to quit the job that I was in which was a trader at a hedge fund, I wanted to be my own boss, I just basically didn't want to have a manager anymore, that was kind of the driving force. Um and this opportunity kind of fell in our laps for a number of reasons which you know, might be a whole separate discussion but only bring that up because I I do think that I often hear that as from newer entrepreneurs that one of the reasons they want to start a business is because they don't want to work for anybody.

And it's such a common misconception about starting a business that you don't work for anybody. And in fact you work for so many people as a startup founder and as a ceo you work for customers, you work for your employees, you work for your co founders, you might work for your investors. There are a lot of parties that you have to consider. In fact way more than if you work in sort of a traditional office environment where you typically behold in maybe 21 manager, maybe a couple people above you, but for the most part, you know, there's a hierarchy and there's a, the buck doesn't stop with you the way that it does at a startup. And so that was a really quick learning for me that the independence of starting a business is not quite what you my envision and that that's not a reason to start a business. However, it was a wonderful experience. I loved what we built, it was just full of challenges that you cannot access doing anything else because there's such breadth of problems that you have to solve on the fly and it's really great if you have sort of a puzzle solving personality, which I think I do.

So I loved it. It just really fed my appetite for operating and entrepreneurship. And that company was actually acquired in 2016. So it's a very quick pathway where we started the business, we ran the business and we sold the business in a little less than a year and a half actually, it was very, very quick. And then I moved into VC into venture capital where I started investing in startups and that actually just continued to feed my passion for starting my own business, which ultimately led to fable, just sort of a culmination of a bunch of things where my business partner and I are huge, crazy pet people, we love love love animals, all animals, especially a crazy dog person. So there's that and then just seeing this really big opportunity in the market from sort of this macro perspective that I was getting an opportunity to have at this central capital fund where I was seeing a lot of businesses and similar spaces and seeing where the opportunities were. So that was more the, that's the second origin story, which is much more authentic and positive because you know, start ups are hard, You have to absolutely love the thing that you're building or it's going to get very tiresome very quickly and you have to go into it knowing that you're beholden to a lot of different parties and you know, there are benefits to being, you know, the boss and not having anybody to report to.

But then there are definitely a lot of challenges to that to which is nobody the plane. Absolutely. With your background coming from the venture capital side, did you decide to fundraise for the brand, like from the get go or did you kind of have a plan to boot strap and then raise like what was the business model? I guess you would say? Yeah, I mean we bootstrapped the first business completely um, and I'm happy to talk numbers there in terms of exactly how much it costs and all of that kind of stuff, but with this second business with fable because of my venture capital background, I had such a good network of angel investors, nBcs who I knew and to, it happened so quick to be frank that we didn't really even have a plan for what the fundraising was. It's just, I started talking about this idea to a few friends that I had in this space and they were very interested in coming in and you know, it's a very different thing to take capital from people that, you know really well and that you've worked with before. And so it just felt very natural.

So we never really had to make a plan for bootstrapping, although I'm a big fan of that, especially after the first experience we had with our startup because there are a lot of advantages to that and that is one way that you get to retain a lot of control and independence over your own business obviously. Yeah, absolutely. Again, going back to this experience that you had in VC, what is the biggest pitfall that you see new entrepreneurs coming into the space and like pitching for money that they kind of like suffer from or maybe a better question is what are the things that people do really well? And then what are the things that people don't do really well? Like what should people look out for? Yeah, it's funny because I see sort of a bifurcated mistake, it's on, on two brought into the spectrum. One is people coming way too early and just not being prepared at all, which you would like to say that you get a lot of shots and like there's a learning curve with V. C. But it is hard VCC so many companies they talk to so many entrepreneurs, it's very easy to make a bad first impression and then not get another chance.

And that's not to say that you shouldn't go in and pitch if you're not like fully, you know, dialed up and everything is perfect and it's really, you know, at 100% because it's never going to be there, but just making sure that you are prepared for that and that you, you know, have some validation of your concept and you have it flushed out and you have a deck and you know, I'm a big proponent of having some sort of website, even if it's just a landing page with like a opt in for a mailing list, having something I think is really important. But then on the other end of the spectrum, just waiting too long and just waiting for everything to be perfect before you start chatting with people because again, it's never going to be perfect and I think there's a lot of fear about talking to vcs from entrepreneurs, especially if it's your first time. And I mean I saw so many companies as a B C. I can't even tell you it was, you know, sometimes it doesn't meetings a day and if you're the type of person who gets really nervous and like your voice shakes in a meeting or you're worried you won't have exactly the right answer.

It just feels very intimidating. Don't worry. We've seen that a million times and that doesn't predict success at all. You know, there's so many started founders who came in and their voices were shaking or they were super nervous. And I'm like firstly don't be nervous. It's just a conversation. But secondly, you know, there are plenty of founders who are wonderful at managing a business who just aren't really great at that part of it and it's fine. So just don't be afraid of not being perfect in the meeting but come prepared. I think it's crucial. Mm Yeah, That's so interesting. And such a great insight. Thank you for sharing. Okay, so you make the decision, you're going to fundraise are we talking 2018 here because you launched in 2019? Right. Yeah. It was the end of 2018 when we started chatting with people about the concept and that's when we ended up taking in some capital? Um, yeah. Are you able to share? Like how much capital you raised to essentially get the brand launched into your DDC store, that kind of thing.

That inventory finding the manufacturer etc. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We raised about two million. But that, you know, we didn't need all of that for the launch necessarily. That's You generally want to raise for 12 to 18 month runway. Um, so I think one, there's a scenario where you can always launch for Using much, much less capital than that. Um, and we did, we use very little capital for the actual launch because what you want is to make sure you have enough runway in the bank to iterate if that launch doesn't go well. If there are some issues that come up that you're not expecting, which always do and definitely did for us when launching fable. Um, in 2019. And yeah, having that capital to support marketing or support other initiatives depending on how the launch goes. So we raised two million, partly just to have that runway and partly because again, it, it just, it happened very quickly and it was a lot of uh, friends and investors that I knew well. And so it it all came together much faster than we were anticipating. So it was more to be frank, was more capital than I would have if I had sat down and made a plan for how much money we needed and how much we wanted.

We probably would have raised way less. But when you're in that moment and people are offering you money? It's a little harder to say. Now that's so exciting though. Love that for you. You mentioned that you had some hurdles in the beginning, what were the hardest things to overcome that maybe we're a bit more unexpected and you didn't see coming. Yeah, I mean, there were a few things that in the beginning one we had a competitor come into the market right around the same time that we did a competitor we didn't know about when we first came up with the idea and when we first started working on the design, so that did kind of change our perspective on the space and where we want what our sweet spot was and ultimately ended up being a really good thing for us I think. But it did change the dynamics and the timing of a few things. And then, you know, there's so many hiccups. There are sort of product market fit is such a big one. I mean, we launched with a very basic set of products and really kind of followed this lean startup approach which we have used for our first startup. But our first startup was a software business.

It's a lot easier to follow. The sort of iterative launch, get feedback, iterate launch, get feedback to iterate cyclical mentality than it is with physical products where the lead times are so long and it's hard to launch a product and then make a change. And but we ultimately kind of did that where we launched our small batches very slowly and got feedback from customers. And so a lot of the initial products that we launched don't exist at all. Our current products that is very, very different from what we originally launched with because I wouldn't call them test products necessarily. But they were products that we were able to get a lot of feedback on. And now our products incorporate so much data, So much feedback from customers. We really, really focus on getting narrowly into like what are their pain points? What do they need us to um incorporate into these products? And we would not have had that data if we hadn't done it that way where we launched with sort of not a perfect set. Exactly. Absolutely.

Yeah. That's so interesting. When you say you were using, well now you use data to drive your innovation and your design and you really understand the pain points and things like that. How do you actually get to understand what the pain points are at scale? Like how do you actually get that information? We run a lot of surveys, both for our customers and for just people and pets. Across different demographics that we're targeting. But we find surveys are really, really helpful. We also, you you just as you start to get a lot bigger, you do start to gather data through all sorts of things. Like if somebody is making a return or exchange, we try to collect as much data at that point. If somebody is subscribing to or unsubscribing from a mailing list, we try to get data at that point. We collect a lot of data from comments on instagram or comments on facebook or Tiktok we get an overwhelming amount of UGC user generated content which includes comments and feedback. So we do not miss anything.

You know, anything that is related to our brand. If it's out there, we want to get as much data from that touch point with the consumer as we possibly can because, you know, I think surveys are a wonderful tool, but it is a different mentality that the customer is and when they're filling out a survey versus when they're organically speaking about your product, like when they post about it on social media, what do they say in that instance? Is it positive? Is it negative if it's positive or negative? What is the specific thing that they're asking for? Yeah. So there's a lot that goes into it and we're very, very data driven. And our website also, you know, incorporates a lot of what are people asking for? What are they focusing on? And we're doing a big website re hall right now and that's something that we're really, really focusing on as well. Wow, that's so cool. I love that. I want to shift gears and talk specifically about the launch and the marketing side of things in that beginning peace around 2019 I read that you had a waiting list of around 5000 people and that's so amazing.

There's so many people, I'd love to know how you built that list and kind of what the strategy was there. Yeah. Actually the wait list is a current wait list for a specific product that we're launching. So we did not have that when we first launched, when we first launched, it was very, very, um, you know, elbow grease oriented in terms of how to get our first customers. So it was a mix of all sorts of things, including, you know, even just going into instagram and looking at specific hashtag what customers were posting about these specific hashtags and messaging them and asking them if they would be interested in trying the product, obviously posting as much as possible and tagging people and just really trying to get a conversation going on social media. We did get lucky, well, partly lucky and partly as a result of some of that elbow grease was we got a lot of press early on for the products, some of that was just pure luck and some of that was us just standing a lot of product to press really rolling up our sleeves and finding as many editors with pets who we thought would be interested, who had written about the space before, who, you know, we thought might be interested just standing as much product to them as possible so that they could try it.

That's a really scary thing, especially early on, when you don't have a ton of validation, you're like, well what if they hate it and then what if we get a bad right up and what if we never get a shot again? But you do kind of have to just shoot your shot to some extent and see if um and just be willing to take feedback. You know, we do get a couple of press people who are like, well I don't really get this particular product and ultimately they were right and that product is rolled off now and yeah, it's a scary thing, but press editors are people too and you can have a conversation with them, they're probably not going to be super, super scary. So yeah, it was a combination of really trying to build a conversation on social media and press and then very slowly, very lightly doing some advertising, some marketing primarily on social media again, because that was 2019. So we had some advantages of being able to use digital marketing tools as well and what were you seeing during that time that was driving the most growth and really getting the wheels kind of turning and building that momentum definitely since the beginning of the company and now as well, it's a user generated content.

You know, we are very fortunate to be in a very share a ble space. People love to post photos of their pets, they love to talk about their pets, they love to talk about the products that their pets use and, you know, everyone at the dog park is sharing what's the annoying thing that's going on right now, that their dog is chewing up the apartment because they're not used to their human leading for extended periods of time because of the pandemic. So what are products that you use to help solve that? Oh, I've heard of this product and Fable called the game. That's really great for that. So user generated content, that organic conversation that people have is really good. We try to foster that as much as possible. Just really encouraging people to post, giving incentives to pose, giving incentives to tag your friends running contests for that. You know, anything we can do to really push encourage UGC and then when we get really good content from customers. So for instance, of video showing their dog playing with one of our toys, if it's a really, really good video or something, will put some marketing dollars behind that and promote it so that we can leverage that content as much as possible.

So yeah, that's really been, you know, that's something that we liked about the space before we even launched was that it is a very terrible category. And so they're really good network effects in it. But it's blown us away the magnitude of that because we just could not have imagined how much people were going to be posting and sharing this content, which is really, really nice. Yeah. And I think as well, like even if I look at my own behavior with my dog dog mums, no other dog mums and everyone's chatting, you know, like there's a lot of chat. I'm not even really in the dog park group like in when I go out to the park, but I mean the WhatsApp group and I chat like all the time to the other dog parents being like what is this for? What are you doing for this? It's got that like inherently word of mouth category thing built into it because dog parents stick together. Yes, someone finds something good and they tell everyone about it. Yes, It's 100%.

Yeah. Yeah. 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 mix 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. 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 asked my instagram community if they had any specific questions. And one of the things that came up from my friend Geo is she was wanting to know that when you look back over the past few years, was there a key pivotal moment for the business when things really started to change or has it been more of that gradual growth over the years? Yeah. I mean we're still pretty new even though we launched in 2019, we actually considered January 2020 our launch date because you know there was sort of this ramp up test period. So it is a very new business but I will say there were two moments that spring to mind as being extremely um as driving like some pretty big step changes.

One is covid in the pandemic because that's something that we were could not have anticipated. And when, you know back in March of last year we were only really a few months old at that point and terrified of course like everyone else and for a number of reasons, but in the specific context of the business, just having no idea what's going to happen is everyone going to stop shopping is that is everything just going to be totally shut down what's going to happen to this space? Should we be, you know, should we be looking at closing up shop, who knows, anything can happen over the next few months and in fact it was the exact opposite and that there's then as I'm sure a lot of you have heard about this pandemic pet boom where people just started adopting pets that's unprecedented rates and it's led to just a crazy boom in the in the pet space. And then also a lot of the challenges that have come with being quarantined with your pets and working from home have led to a lot of people looking for solutions to specific behavioral issues which bring them to us on a pretty regular basis.

And then the rise of e commerce and people shopping online more because of work from home. So all of these tail winds sort of happened at the same time and created this absolutely Unexpected, crazy amount of growth back in April of 2020 April May of 2020 that then we were just sort of scrambling to keep up with and scrambling to meet demand for, because every projection we had was blown out of the water at that point. So that was the first one, and then the second one was in November December of 2020 around the holiday season when we launched our product called the game, which you know, did super super well. It's a product that specifically targeted towards dealing coping with separation anxiety and boredom and pets, which we started developing before the pandemic obviously, but is extremely useful to people right now who are dealing with this increased amount of separation anxiety as they start to go back to work or start to leave their homes a little bit more and pets aren't used to it.

Um, so I think it, it's a product that would do well regardless, but we ended up just sort of going viral on Tiktok. There was a video that was posted about a dog using the product and that's the sort of thing, you just can't predict. Somebody posts a video that really hits well and resonates on a platform that to be frank, I wasn't super familiar with at that point, Obviously we're super familiar with Tiktok at this point. But yeah, that video racked up, I think like two million views in a couple of days and just continued to skyrocket after that and again, just lead to some issues about keeping up with the demand and making sure that we had enough supply to meet that demand, particularly going into the holidays because you know, you want to get everybody their products in time so that they can can enjoy them for the holidays or give them for the holidays. So yeah, those are the two main ones, but again, it still feels like early days to me obviously so much gets packed into one or two years when you're starting a business. So it's, it feels like longer. But yeah, I'm sure there'll be a lot more, a lot more big moments coming up this year as well.

I bet two million views. That's crazy how what's the impact of that, like how many orders or how many units are sold if a video goes viral and gets that kind of viewing? Yeah, I can depend in this case we were selling one of those products at that point, like every few seconds. Um it was just going absolutely crazy. I think the conversion rate is very high um for this sort of price point product, we had a lot of press validation for it. So it can depend, we've had other marketing boosts, you know, I wouldn't say viral content at all, but we've had some ads that have really popped or videos or press articles that have really popped. It didn't necessarily have that kind of conversion because it can depend on such a wide range of factors. What is the price point of the product? Is it a low risk, you know, they're typically some barriers to purchasing a product is like, is it right for my dog? Is that the right size? What is the price point? Do I have to replace another product?

So anyway, it really depends. But for this product in particular, because the price point is a little bit more accessible and because, you know, it sort of checks all those boxes, people were just buying them up very, very quickly too quickly for us to keep up with unfortunately, but it's a better problem to have them the reverse. absolutely. And does that circle then back into this 5000 person wait list? Is that the product that the wait list is full? No, no, that's So the wait list is for we have another sort of hero product which is our signature crate, which doubles as a side table. It's both a dog crate and a furniture piece. And that product has done incredibly incredibly well, particularly again as people have been locked in their homes and really focused on making their homes as comfortable for them and their pets as possible. It's also highly recommended as sort of an anti anxiety tool for pets because it creates this very den like environment and it's really good for giving them their own space and home. So anyway, that product has done super well.

But when we launched, we only launched a small version of it, an extra small, small for pets, kind of under £25. And again, that kind of goes back to the lean startup model and also just making sure that there is a market for a product before you launch it. It's an expensive product to manufacture. It's a very large, it cost a lot to ship. There's a lot of wood involved. It's for a number of reasons, just not an easy product to make. And so we just didn't have the capital to spend on inventory for a really large version unless we knew that people wanted it. So originally we launched the small but there was so much demand for the media and we decided to make that as well. Um and so that's what the wait list is for. Is that medium create, which we're hoping to launch any day now, are you know, hoping to be able to start shipping any day now. But that waitlist sort of was born organically from people who had seen the smaller version and wanted one for their pets that were larger. So we didn't put any marketing behind that or anything. And in fact we try really hard not to market it at all because the way this is so big that we we want to be able to fulfill all those orders before we start pushing it at all.

So because you didn't kind of market it or anything, does that mean you literally just put it, you know, kind of the word out on social media and the word out to your email database, for example, and that's what generated that list. Not even that, we literally just put it on the way, we just put it on the website as an extra size and put an email option there to say if you want this, you know, put your email in and get on the wait list. So we did not do anything, we didn't we don't post about on social media, we don't do any of that, but people see the smaller version and want it for themselves for their situation, so that's how it ends up happening. But we'll say we've used wait lists for product launches for previous product launches here and in other businesses as well. And I'm such a big proponent of that. I was actually talking to a friend recently and she's looking, she's in the very early stages of starting a business and I was really pushing for her to, I think before you get too far along the business, it feels very intimidating to make a website or to do anything that's too formal, but I was really pushing just get a really cool cover page up and a input for people's emails and get people to sign up for the mailing list and start getting them excited about the product that you're launching and start you know, even if it's a pretty long process before you actually have to launch that you can start emailing them and getting information, ask for input on problems that you're trying to solve or brand design or whatever and you might find that that mailing list grows organically just by sending to your friends and they send to their friends and they can kind of balloon much faster than you would expect or you can put a pretty, you know, a pretty modest amount of marketing dollars behind it and just start you know posting on social media and getting people to sign up for it and you know it's a good validator to see if just the very high level concept is resonating with people, if it's resonating enough for them to sign up for mailing list which is extremely low friction and doesn't ask much of them.

That's a good validator. But if it's not, that's also good data point because if you can't get people to sign up for mailing list, getting them to buy your product is going to be a lot more challenging. That's a whole other level of expectation. Yeah, that's so true. That's a great insight. It's like just as soon as you've kind of got this idea and you're playing around with it. Put up the website, put up that like email holder so you can gauge interest from the get go as you're building. Love that Really clever and just to give you some numbers, you know, if it costs a few dollars to acquire a customer. So let's say like it totally depends obviously on the price point of your product, but let's say it costs $5-10 to acquire a customer through social media marketing. The cost to acquire them to sign up for a mailing list, which is a specific um action that you can target for in social media marketing and digital marketing across the board. That should cost less than a dollar. That should only be a few cents per customer. So you know, if you're doing it right, so it's a, it's a much more cost effective way to build an audience before you launch and again have all those built in data points and opportunities for surveys and also a really, really good data point to bring into a meeting with an investor if you have nothing else, if you haven't even launched your product, But you can walk in and say, Oh but we have a mailing, you know, we haven't done anything but people are so excited about this concept.

We have 3000 people on our wait list or 3000 people on our mailing list. That's a good validator. That's something that you can talk to. So I highly recommend it. Obviously obviously so because you have this wait list, what I'm thinking and what I'm wondering does that then kind of dictate your design and product development moving forward in terms of, you've seen the wildly successful launch of this particular product and now you're like, okay, well that obviously shows us something like, what else do we need to innovate and create in that, you know, maybe it isn't that furniture category, space or whatever, but does that kind of now shape your future plans? Yeah, for sure. I mean, whenever you can kind of get that actual numbers behind how interested are people in this concept beforehand, before you start doing part of development, that is really, really helpful for sort of long term product strategy, portfolio strategy, but it's only one data point, you know, there's so much, at least in our category where we're creating a lot of different products, we have sort of a broad portfolio of products, there's a lot more than just will people buy this product, you have to consider your unit economics, you have to consider your margin.

Is this product a profit generator? Is it more of a brand builder? You know, what are the potential variability around freight costs and tariffs and shipping and all of that. And so it it is really just one data point and it's hard to, it's hard to condense it down into anything, um less complex than that, honestly, because it is a very complex thing, building a portfolio of products, we have to balance a number of things or you just become, you know, a one hit wonder you're just making one product that people want? And then one of the most important considerations at least in the consumer products category is lTV lifetime value. That's what we talk about adventure all the time because it costs more and more to acquire customers over time. It costs more and more to acquire customers in this moment in history as customer acquisition costs are going up for a number of reasons. And so once you acquire a customer, you really, really want to be able to extend the value of having acquired that customer as much as possible.

So you want to, you know, either it's a very expensive item obviously that their purchasing and so then you get that lifetime value very quickly or you want to be able to create new opportunities for them to come back to and interact with your brand so that it's not just a one off purchase. Um, I think that's super important. So that's a long way of saying that we're not just going to create medium sized crates because this large wait list, we know people want that. But there's a lot of other stuff they want that they haven't even thought of yet, that's our job is to think of the things that they haven't thought of that they can tell us what's annoying in their life and what their big pain points are around having a pet. But we're product developers and designers and it's our job to, to put something in front of them and say, do you want this? That's so cool. I love that. Where is the business today? And what fun things can you shout about besides the medium? Great. Oh yeah, medium creates a big one.

I mean we have so many changes coming this summer. I'm very, very excited. I mean everyone stay tuned first or july august because there's going to be a lot of new stuff coming. We have a new product launch that is I think going to revolutionize the industry. It deals with the problem that everybody has every single day multiple times a day with their pet. And so I think will really impact your daily experience in a way that we're really, really excited about. We have new sizes and colors of all of our existing products, including the crate. Um, we have some really fun partnerships coming, including some retail distribution, that's going to be a new experience for us. We're launching a new website and the new website has a bunch of really cool features, including some personalization and some just sort of fun interactive opportunities for you and your pet. There's a ton that we're doing. It's really, really an exciting time and yeah, I don't want to give away too much because we're trying to, we like to build up suspense as much as possible but definitely stay tuned.

It's going to be a good second half the year. Well I'm excited for myself. That sounds super fun. I'm looking forward to seeing what you bring out. What is your key piece of advice or your top piece of advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business. I mean start out start talking to people. I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make is there's this weird fear that somebody's going to steal your idea. People don't, for the most part steal your idea. It's so much harder to build a business than it is to have an idea. And that's one thing I learned in B. C. Is anybody I ever told that I was a venture capitalist. They had a business idea. Everybody has a business idea. So don't be so afraid of that. It's it is very hard to just steal someone's idea and make it into a business. It's much more important for you to get as much feedback as possible early on and as many offers to help as possible early on. And that's the second piece of advice I would give which is just be shameless about taking people up on their offers to help.

Worst case they don't. But if somebody says I can help you with this you have to be willing to just push that as far as possible because you're going to need a lot a lot of help and yeah you should not be shy about that if you feel shy about taking people up on their offers to help, that it's probably not your big passion project, you should feel like not that it's a privilege for them to be helping you, but you should be so excited about whatever you're starting, that you get why they would be excited to be involved or why they would be excited to help you have to have that mentality of like this is going to be a huge thing, this is gonna be a revolutionary concept, I'm so excited about it and I want you involved and not, I'm burdening you by asking you for something because there's a lot that goes into starting a business, it takes a lot, it takes a village, it really does. Yeah, that's such great advice, thank you so much. At the end of every episode, I asked a series of six quick questions to everyone that I speak to, some of the things we might have already covered, but we go through them anyway all the same.

So question number one is, what's your, why? Why are you doing what you do? Um wow, I mean solving pain points for pets is a huge passion, I mean that's something that if we can make pets lives easier and humans lives easier through product design, that's such a good reason to wake up every morning, it's also, you know, I geek out on the design process a lot, it's a really fun thing to get to do and to get to see a physical product being made and get to use it myself. That's that's really awesome. So true question number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop? I mean definitely is that sort of viral Tiktok video that we just could not have predicted? That was just an absolute shock. And yeah, you've got to leverage those lucky moments as much as possible because you don't know when you're going to get them, but it was awesome. That's a wild one Question. Number three is where do you hang out to get smarter?

What are you reading or listening to or subscribing to that others could benefit from knowing about good question, I mean, especially because we don't have an office right now, I kinda, and now I'm fully back thankfully, um I do like to kind of coffee shop hop and I find that just being in different environments frequently works really well for me. Um I just love hearing this sort of residual conversations around me, new york city, I think is just such a great place to be if you want to get smarter because everyone is smart and hustling and there's just so much energy here around particularly entrepreneurship that I'm very long new york, everyone come here, everyone come hang out in, all the new york is the best. Yeah, and there are a lot of really good groups for female founders and female Bcs and entrepreneurs, this community is really strong here and much more accessible than I think in some other places like san Francisco for instance, um it's just because it's smaller and still feels a little newer and not as um intimidating, I think it's a really good resource.

That's amazing. Question number four is how do you win the day? What are your am or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? My gosh, I don't know if I've ever one day that's the aspiration, but yeah, I mean I do keep to a pretty um rigid morning routine in that I wake up long before I have to actually start the day and that I want to wake up excited to get out of bed, so I make sure that I have all these things before I start my work day or even check my email that I'm very excited about, so you know, made very luxurious like cup of coffee and doing the crossword puzzle and doing my exercise routine and I, I fit that all in before I do anything else because again, I don't want to ever feel again, like I didn't sort of, my very first career when I'm like God please just let me stay in bed, but that works because I'm a morning person I think if not then just having something to look forward to at the end of the day to just making sure you have a big chunk of me time to do some of those things that you're looking forward to that I think is huge.

Absolutely. Question number five is if you were given $1000 no strings attached grant, where would you spend that money? Who? Good question And there are specific people who I feel like I wouldn't call out on this podcast, but I I think there's always somebody in your life where you're like, oh my gosh, that person is just brilliant and they're going to do something successful and so I that that's my aspiration is to be able to just give grants to those people and let them use it however they want. I do invest in myself a lot, obviously that you have to do that as an entrepreneur and so I have to have confidence that you can spend $1,000 in a way that is highly leveraged able and can lead to success. But yeah, the real answer is that people just gave me no strings attached money. I would probably invested in other people that I think are super capable and competent. Do you want to give a shout out to any of these brilliant people that you have in your mind? I'm so mindful of people's privacy, you know, without getting permission to call them out, I won't, but you can tell them offline, I'll tell them all flying, I'll be like listen to this podcast, you are the person I'm talking about?

You were the person Yeah, I love that. But give me money totally. And question # six, last question is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when stuff doesn't go to plan? Yeah, I mean I have a very vivid memory. I journal a lot. I think back on my failure as a decent amount actually. I think people who have this mentality of no regrets never think about the things that went wrong. I'm sure that works for them, but that doesn't work for me. I definitely think about failure a lot and I think it's healthy. I remember that it didn't kill me that I've gotten through all of those moments. Um I like to kind of go back and think about the really, really tough moments sometime and how much it felt like in that moment that nothing was ever going to be good again and I was never going to get through it. And it was just soul crushing And then I did. So you know, if I could take it then I can take it now, that's kind of my mentality. And then I, I do often think about this phrase that worrying is suffering twice.

That's something that I replay very frequently in my head, which is just, yeah, things are going to go whenever you're faced with potential, fair things are going to go terribly or they're going to work out and if they go terribly then what was the point in worrying about it? You just extended that suffering and if they go well then why did you worry in the first place? So I try to be as even keel as I can about it and definitely have had quite a lot of failure in my life. So I have a lot of, a lot of anecdotes to look back unfortunately or unfortunately that's a good one. I've never heard that worrying extends the suffering. That's so true. I'm a natural warrior, so it sucks for me, but I love that. I'm gonna, I'm gonna keep that in mind now. Okay, good. Sophie, thank you so much for taking the time to share your lessons and your learnings and everything that's happening with fable. I'm just so excited and can't wait to see what happens in july and august. Yes. Yes.

Thank you so much for having me. This is so fun. Um Yeah, I really appreciate it. Had a great time. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup Club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D. I y course the ads, M. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe, rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. No. Mhm. Yeah.

How to create a 5,000 person waitlist for your DTC startup with pet care brand FABLE Co-Founder Sophie Bakalar
How to create a 5,000 person waitlist for your DTC startup with pet care brand FABLE Co-Founder Sophie Bakalar
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