Female Startup Club

1 of 623 episodes indexed
Back to Search - All Episodes

Ju Rhyu Sold Her Business, Hero Cosmetics, for $630 Million. Here’s her Playbook for the Life Changing Acquisition (Part 1)

by Female Startup Club
May 10th 2023

This is Ju Rhyu for Female Startup Club

Hi everyone and welcome back to the show! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl! I’m coming to your ears from Sydney Australia and it is a beaut... More

This is Ju for female startup club. Hello, everyone and welcome back to the show. It's June here, your host and Hype Girl. I'm coming to your ears from Sydney Australia and it is a beautiful day over here. It's very sunny, no clouds in the sky. If you've just found us, I am so grateful and so happy to have you here every week on the female startup club podcast. I interview some of the world's most successful founders and women in business to understand their blueprint to success. And today you're gonna meet someone very, very special. Ju She's the founder of a company called Hero Cosmetics. Now we had you on the show back in 2020. And as you can imagine, it was the pandemic. I was London based and it feels like a total lifetime away from where we are today. But she was on to share her journey in starting the business. And if you didn't hear that episode, I highly recommend you go back and listen to it because you took a very interesting path to launching Hero and it's well worth a listen.

It's got so many interesting gems and many tactics that we can all take note of. But today we're digging into something very different. It's very exciting and it's kind of crazy, like insane, crazy. It's her path to acquisition. We often hear on the show from entrepreneurs who have raised millions of dollars in capital and are in the middle of the journey. But last year in 2022 ju sold her business for $630 million $630 million. That is more than half a billion dollars. Wow! Crazy. And it's rare that we get to learn from someone who's actually pulled this off at this scale. This conversation is so insightful and as always due shares it all. So buckle up because we are in for such a treat today. Just one thing before we get into this episode and while I have you here, I just wanna give you some hype girl energy to get out there and start posting on tiktok today.

Today people last week I shared something completely left a field to my usual content online. It's very personal. It's kind of gross and it has just exploded online. I'm talking millions of views, thousands of followers, hundreds of new subscribers. And it really just reminded me that the power of tiktok is still just so insane. And so here for everyone to access, we can all use it today. It's free to use. It's just a time investment and it's so worth it. So go check out the video and then D M me if you want to chat about your tiktok strategy because I'm thinking about doing some solo episodes where I break down key strategies and also answer some questions. Alrighty, let's do this. Let's get into today's episode. This is due for female startup club. Hello, welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hey, no, I haven't seen you in so long.

How are you? I know I haven't actually seen your face on camera or R A L in a really long time, but I have seen you all over the news, so I have seen your face a lot. I love this for us. Oh, my gosh. How are you today? How's Paris? I'm doing great, Paris. We're, I mean, it's springtime so the weather is getting better. Uh, there are a bunch of, uh, protests recently but that's sort of calmed down. So things are, things are good here. I feel like on tiktok, Paris looks really bad. It looks, it doesn't look good. Yeah. Is the, is the rubbish cleaned up? Is it as bad as it looks online? What's the vibe? It's all cleaned up? It was that bad. So, whatever you saw on tiktok, it was pretty bad. I mean, the trash, it, it was like walls of trash. You'd be walking around, you would just be grossed out. But, uh, it's all cleaned up. It's all back to normal. There are no more protests. That's died down. So, yeah, sort of back to normal, back to normal. Relatively normal. Yeah. Oh, my gosh.

I'm so excited about today's episode and I want to give everyone listening just a little bit of context because if anyone's starting to tune into the show recently, you might not know that we've had you on the show before and I think it was in like, 2021 maybe early 2021 or even 2020 potentially don't remember. But yeah, it was a while ago for sure. And a lot has happened, it was a while ago, a lot has happened since then. At the time, you were absolutely crushing it. And I recommend everyone going back and listening to the first version of your story because that tells the kind of early stages of what you were, what you were building and how it was going. And you'd always done things a little bit differently. You launched exclusively through Amazon, you grew through these crazy retail partnerships like Target and Alta. And then in 2021 you crossed over the $100 million in revenue mark and you went on to sell your business for something totally nuts, like 630 million acquisition vibes.

Like that's, that's, that's on track to a billion dollars like that still blows my mind. So I'm so excited and I'm so happy and I'm so inspired by what you've been able to achieve. And I'm very grateful to have you back on the show to talk about part two of the Hero Cosmetics Journey. Yeah. And just for anyone listening, additional background is Jude and I were having drinks for coffee in Paris and this was before we sold the company and I was talking a little bit about it and June was like, oh my gosh, you have to come back for part two. So here we are, we're doing it and I'm happy to share a little bit about the experience. Gosh, I really remember that night and I just remember like feeling, feeling what I feel now, very excited for the future you of what was about to happen and how the course of your life was going to change in a very significant way. So I'm, I'm really excited to get into it. Where do we want to start this? Because I wanna obviously circle around the acquisition. How do you sell a company? You know, you're still kind of fresh. This is like six months since it's been actually announced.

So maybe let's start by just understanding your point of view on an acquisition, had you always planned to sell the business from the get go or was that something that came along the way for us? We always knew that at some point we would want to sell this company and especially when we took on investors, we took on investors in 2020. And usually when that happens, the investors, you know, they put in a, a certain amount and they, they expect actually their money to be returned to them with some kind of return. And usually that's, that's um the way that that gets done is in some other kind of transaction. It could be another, another sort of growth equity round or it could be selling the company to a strategic uh which is what we did in our case. And then, and then I have two co-founders who are not families. So the other thing to consider is who, who you have started the company with. Because if you, you know, if you started the company with family, a lot of times those businesses get passed down to the, you know, the next generation of the family.

Uh but for us, since we were not related in any way, uh it just, we knew that at some point there would be some kind of exit where eventually, you know, the company would be under the wings of someone else. And we'd probably have, you know, we'd probably move on to different things. I bet those investors are real happy with that return. They're real happy. Yeah. And I mean, um and for context, I mean, we were their first investment. This is a, this is a new fund. Uh The fund is called a Growth Partners. And I mean, they're both longtime consumer investors, but they, uh it's Jackie and Trevor and they came together to start a new fund and we were investment one. So I think we, we both took bets on each other because they took a bet on us. But we took a bet on them and it worked out really great and I think they're really happy. I think we're all happy. I just missed the name of the fund. Could you say it again? Aria. Growth partners. Yeah. A Ria. Aria.

Ok, great. Gonna look that up later. So you're building the business. It's going really well. In 2021 you crossed that 100 million mark. What point were you like? Hey, let's like, look to start selling the business or was it like, let's be proactive, identify the buyers that we would go to and like see what happens or is it like someone actually just dropped into your inbox one day and you went down a different pathway for us so it can happen many different ways. But for us, the way that it happened was internally, we always had this $100 million mark as the benchmark. Like once we get there, once we're on that path, we should seriously think about trying to sell the company. And I didn't realize why the $100 million mark is uh is important until after we started the process. But internally that was just sort of the, the hurdle that we had. And so we got there a lot faster than any of us really expected to we were on that path in 2021. And uh we had received the investment in 2020.

So we had a board with board members and uh two of the board members were the investors from a growth and then it was the three founders. And so once, once we were well on to the track of $100 million it became a board topic actually. Um Hey, we're gonna hit this, this benchmark. Uh, do we want to do, we want to consider putting the company out for sale, you know, sooner rather than later? And, um, I, I remember at that board meeting, uh, one of our investors, I mean, without hesitation, he was like, yes, and we should go out as soon as possible because even, I mean, the economy right now is very weird and I, we're probably going to be in the US, at least we're probably going to be in a recession later this year. But even in 2021 I don't know how he had the foresight, but even back then he was worried about the clouds darkening in the global economy. And so for him, he really did push us to move quickly because he knew that, you know, who knows what was going to happen in 2022 or 2023.

And it turns out, uh, he's very right because I think the M and a environment right now is, uh, it's not great and is that what you mean? When you said 100 million was actually very important or was there a different reason why 100 million specifically is very important? So what I learned, so why 100 million is important is because uh a lot of a lot of bigger companies when they want to buy these growing indie brands, they want something quote unquote of scale, that means they want to know that you have proved out that this product or business, it can reach a critical mass. So usually, I mean, some, some companies go earlier, but usually they like to see you around, let's say an $8200 million mark. And then what I've heard is that the bigger you get, the harder it gets to sell the company because your universe of buyers gets smaller. And so once you're at the level where you're looking for close to a billion dollar valuation, I remember our banker said, you know, if you're looking for a billion dollar valuation, there are four people who can buy your company.

And so it just really limits the pool of potential acquires the bigger that you get because not every company has that much money to be able to, you know, mix to big acquisition. So there's kind of a sweet spot uh which I I didn't realize until we started the process. So it's around like that 80 to 100 million I mark. And does that mean also, like if you're growing bigger than that and you're doing multi 100 millions of revenue, then you would need to go straight towards IP O because no-one can then buy you. It depends. I mean, we've seen some really expensive acquisitions, right? Like ASAP just got bought for over $2 billion 2.6, I think. Yeah, some, something crazy like Paula's choice was over a billion neutral, I think. I mean, so, um there are definitely exceptions. Uh but then, you know, if that path doesn't work out, like if you don't sell to one of those four buyers, then the only option that you might have is actually, yeah, in the public markets.

But that can also, I mean, that also comes with risk, right? Because we've seen some of the IP OS, especially with some of these like G DC brands that haven't gone so well. Totally. So you're in this board meeting, your investor is like, hell, yes, let's go for it right now. Today, what happens then? Like do you hire an M and a firm to work with you directly on like going out and, you know, brokering this deal or do you hire like a team internally to build out a strategy blah, you're gonna hire uh a banker. So that's what we did. We interviewed four different banks and we gave them a little bit of information about the company and then they took that they digested it and then we had sort of had a pitch off. So we asked them to, you know, take the materials that we had sent them and basically pitch us, why they would be good for us, why, you know, we, they should be awarded uh this amazing business to uh find a buyer for.

And so that took probably a few months, I wanna say, yeah, 3 to 4 months. And then, um so we probably kicked that off like, I don't know, July ish. And then by November, we had picked the banker and we had signed the engagement letter with them. So we went with a bank called Raymond James. And yeah, and they're the ones that really run the whole process for you. They do, they do a lot of work actually, um all sorts of um financial models and they create the decks and they're managing the relationships and, and then even at the very end, they're helping with the negotiations on all, you know, all the points as you're about to sign the purchase agreement. And what made you choose that banker out of the fall? Like why did they win the pitch? So we worked with a woman named Vanette and she's, she's like the beauty banker. I mean, if you look at the previous clients that she worked on uh drug elephant Taa, she worked on the Paula's Choice, you know, deal.

And then, and so, I mean, she has a really amazing track record but uh it's not just that like, I think we're all really impressed with their pitch because again, you know, we had prepared a few slides to give more information about our company. And then when they pitched us, it was clear that they went one level deeper and they did, they like commissioned um, some study and they, they did really go one level deeper than other banks to help, really inform the story that eventually would be really important in the deal. Because even in, you know, in M and A, if you're an M and a banker, you're actually still a marketer because because the story that you tell to potential buyers is actually really important, the way that you position a company and the way that you talk about like the strengths, it's really important. So um so it was really clear from the deck that they had sent over that they went a level deeper in researching who we are and how they felt like they could position our, our company in the best way.

Yeah, I love that. They like gaining your trust. Yeah. And also I love that she's, she's a woman, she's a woman in historically, a very male dominated industry. And yeah, I mean, I mean, that's not why we chose her, right? But like, I think that's, I think it's really amazing that, that, you know, she's such a kick ass thinker in a very male dominated 100% you said that um you know, in that process, they also helped you on the negotiation side of things. Like, how does the negotiation work? And I have a, it's like a multi question, multi multiple question here. Like firstly, like how did you settle on the valuation? Obviously, there's numbers and spreadsheets and blah, but like, do you guys also have a feeling of like, I want this to be our valuation and then you kind of have to settle on it and then like go into a room with lawyers on both sides and like discuss or like, are you in the room discussing? Like, how does that work? Ok. So, you know, it's so weird because first of all, like our transaction happened last year, but everything was over, like almost everything was over zoom.

We did a lot over zoom. I mean, there were in person meetings and stuff but even the like, I've seen pictures of deal of deals where um every, you know, both sides are in like one big conference room and, and they're all stuck together until four in the morning because they just have to like hash it out and then they like physically sign um the documents but it was not like that for us. It was all like digital and docusign, which was kind of weird. Um But uh oh shoot, I just forget your question. Yeah, like how does the negotiation happen? Like, are you in the room like, do you settle on evaluation based on like personal, like take like an informed like choice or like, how does it work? So, yeah, I mean, internally you kind of have your own number and you can, you know, you can do your own models. Like our, I remember our V P of finance, she had like done her own model and, and, you know, shorthand, we were sort of like, well, we, we think we're gonna end up here in terms of revenue. We think a fair valuation for this company would be blah.

And then on the other side, uh the bankers will talk to all the potential parties and, and, you know, people who might be interested and they asked them with very limited information to come back with a valuation number. Um And so at that point, it's a very, it's a very loose number because they don't have all the data to kind of, you know, that usually goes into evaluation, but it's sort of a um you know, like a strawman approach, like here's some limited data, like what would you be, be willing to pay? And so they all come back with our number and usually you, I mean, I don't know for us, like we in that first round, that first round there was like a very wide range of valuation numbers and I think our number was definitely towards the upper end, but it's interesting to see because you can see sort of what general sentiment is in terms of how they would value your company. And then from there you whittle it down, like, uh, you know, these numbers are too low or these people, um, we don't think it'd be a very good fit or, you know, we're not sure, you know, these people would actually be able to make it happen.

And so you start whittling it down and then from there, you know, you pick the parties that you want to go into the next stage with and then from there you give them more data, more information. So all the, you know, financial reports and, you know, all sorts of data room items and then from there, that's where they really do the homework and they dig in and they start spending money on things and then they'll come up with usually a firmer number, like based on all the information that we've seen and, you know, based on the, uh the resources that we've hired to look at this category, like this is our number and that number is usually a lot more solid. And then from there, there's sort of like a third phase where you might end up, you maybe you're, you're with like two or three potential acquires. And the number is sort of like, I don't know, in a closer range and then to pinpoint the exact number you want, that's usually when the banker will go back and forth and say, hey, you need to do better, like you need to do better. Uh, you know, we're looking, you know, more for, um, like this sort of number and then, and then it just gets, it gets more, um, it gets tightened up.

Did anyone that lowballed you get through to, like, the last round? No, no, no, you're out. See ya. Yeah. And is the number that you settled on 630? What you expected or thereabouts? I mean, I think we're all really happy with it and I, I think as a founder, you, uh, you know, you, you always want more, you always want more and you always have huge ambitions for your company. Uh But in the end, yeah, I think we're all really happy with how it turned out. Did you have like, you know, other founders in your network and like people around you kind of like advising you through this process or were you like upskilling through? I don't even know what resources like, how do you navigate this? It feels so like there's only such a small pool of people who have actually done this. It's a really good question because I did, I did have a hard time finding other founders who had sold their companies.

I mean, I know I knew of a few. So I did, I did ask them uh from time to time their advice and, and what they had done and, um, but it is, it does. I mean, it's true like it gets lone, it gets lonelier the bigger that you get because not everyone has had successful um, outcomes. And, but I did have probably three people that I knew who I had had asked questions along the way. And then outside of that, you're sort of relying on your bankers to teach you your investors to teach you the lawyers. And then, and, and then there's a good chunk where you're just figuring it out on your own. And there's no one that, that, you know, you can, you can really ask. Um And that's where I think having co-founders or having like our leadership team was involved in the process too and having them was really great too because then, you know, you like, complain to each other or you ask each other questions and you just, you figure it out together if your exec team is kind of across it.

Do your staff know at all during this process or you, like, you have to keep it under wraps because it can't leak to somewhere or something? Yeah, we kept it very well. We tried to keep it very under wraps. So we, you know, we had a question, you know, I remember very early in the process, the question was who's in the tent and who's not? And so, um we, there was a very clear line in terms of like, who should know that we were uh going out with this process and everyone else should not know just because I didn't, you know, we were still pretty young and I didn't want people to worry about what an acquisition meant. And, and also God forbid, like if it didn't happen, I didn't want people to feel disappointed or like we failed or anything like that. But I've seen different approaches, like I've seen some companies make a press release saying, hey, like we've hired such and such bank to look at strategic options. So I'm, I mean, I don't know, it might be more of like a personal preference as much as a strategy discussion.

Um But for us, we decided to keep it under wraps. I think you said you had that first board meeting in March 2021. How long did it take? Like from that kind of meeting of like, hey, let's actually start taking action to like the sale is done. We have announced it sign sale delivered. Yeah, I think it was ok. So we probably had that meeting. Yeah, maybe, maybe around March I and then I think it became finalized around June because by then we had six months of data and we knew we were well on that track and then that summer so like July to August September, we were meeting, you know, we were interviewing the four different banks and getting uh giving them some information about the company. And then we had the pitch offs. I think September ish September, early October, I think we had the, we had the banks pitch us and then probably by the end of October, November, we had signed with the bank that we worked with and then from there, um we kicked off immediately, so November we kicked off and then we closed our transaction, October of 2022.

So, so from signing the engagement letter to closing our transaction, it, it was about 12 months. Wow, that's like 12 months is so short in so many ways, but also so long in so many ways when you're having to still run a company, make sure it's on the up still managing like life, everything else. And then also trying to do this huge thing. That is, yeah, it went by really fast but in some, but it was, it was a hard year. I mean, selling a company is no joke for sure. And you feel a lot of pressure because there's like, I mean, in our case, like hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, you know, and it's not just you as a founder but you know, you're thinking about your investors, your team, um like you want things to go well. And I mean, it was my number one priority for those 12 months. Like, I mean, and luckily, you know, I we were a good team where we had enough people who were focused on like the operations.

So that I could be focused on making sure this transaction really went well, but it's a lot of time just meeting, you know, meeting potential buyers and traveling here and there. And I mean, I had to go to New York a bunch of times. I went to Korea a bunch of times and, and sometimes like the travel is, is literally, it's very last minute. Um like I found out on a Monday, I had to go to Korea and I had to leave two days later. So I booked an emergency trip like things like that. So, um yeah, it's, it's a lot of work for sure. I've heard on other podcasts that acquisitions are rarely kind of straightforward and, and linear. Were there any moments or hiccups when you were feeling like, holy shit, this might actually fall through like at the last minute, it's not gonna work. I mean, you know what? There was um a sort of do we do this or not? Because last year is when the war in Ukraine started, it started in February.

And that, uh I just, I remember like, everyone was so freaked out about the war and how it would impact the economy and like politics and all that. And so I just remember all of us, we were like, do we do this or do we not? Because, you know, no one had, had been in a process when there was a global war happening in the world So, you know, there was no data in terms of, oh, you know, we saw a process in a similar situation and it went like this. So we feel confident that, you know, things will continue as normal or, or the reverse. So we literally all on a conference call, had a whole hand hold hands and just say, let's give it a shot. Um But I remember that that was a big, a big moment for us. Yeah. Gosh. No precedent set. Wow. And now you've said it. Yeah. Yeah. Now you've done it. So you sell everything's finalized. October 2022. I can you describe the moment when the money hits your account?

Like, how do you feel when everything is like 100% done somehow? You've got this wild number in your bank account and your life has forever changed. Yeah. It's, it's pretty surreal and, but, but you know what, in a way it's like you forget about it too because it's, it's in your bank account. And I mean, I, you know, it's not, I mean, maybe for the first, like few days I was checking my bank account all the time just to make sure it was still there. But, but also how do I explain it? It's, it's not in your face all the time. So a lot of times I forget, um, I don't, you know, I forget about it. Um, it's not something I, I think about all the time these days. But, but it's, it is very surreal and I remember looking at my bank account and just almost like just laughing because it was so ridiculous and then outcome I had never even dreamed about happening. Um And I remember when people were asking me like, you know, how has your life changed?

Like, what are you gonna do differently? And I don't know, my life hasn't changed that much. I, you know, we still live, live in the same apartment in Paris and, you know, I still have the same clothes. Maybe some clothes are a little bit nicer. But, but, and, but I don't think it's, it's something where your life goes from 0 to 100 and it changes overnight. It's probably a gradual thing. Um, and, and I think it also depends on sort of like, like how you value money, what you want to do with it. I mean, I'm sure there are some people who just go crazy with it, but in my case, um, in my case, I think I'm just gonna sort of ease into, ease into this new lifestyle. Um, and, yeah, and kind of see what I'm gonna do with it. Wow. I mean, becoming kind of like richer than your wildest dreams that you could have imagined and then having it actually kind of like happen. It just seems so, yeah, so strange to even talk about and be like, what, what is that like?

Like all of a sudden. Did you actually do anything to celebrate? Like, buy something, do something. Take a moment, meditate. Like, what was, what did you do, like, straight away? Oh, gosh. Well, you know what? I, it's not just one thing. I did a lot of smaller things, I guess. So, um, I, last year was just so busy, so I want to take a minute. So I went to a Monzo in Greece with a girlfriend for a few days because I just, I was like, I want to get away. I just, I wanna stay somewhere kind of iconic and just relax. So did that. And then, yeah, I mean, I treated myself to like, you know, certain things. I hosted a party in New York actually. Um and that was really fun. So I bought out this pizza restaurant and invited like my business school friends, my college friends, I invited people in the C P G community. A bunch of people that actually met on Twitter who I never met in person.

But, you know, we were friendly. Um I invited vendors and, and you know, people that the the company had worked with and, and I didn't invite anyone from the company. Uh because for me, it was really just like a personal um a personal party, but that was really fun because I even, I remember like on the paperless post in my, like the title of the event was I sold my company party. And, uh, and I just invited everybody. I was, like, just come. And also because I hadn't seen people in a really long time. But I mean, the process, it really does take a lot out of you. And every time I was in New York I had no time to see anybody. I had no time to do anything personal. So that was my moment to, you know, to see my friends again and, and catch up as best as I could. And um that was really fun and, and it was just great to celebrate with, with a wider community too because they had been cheering us on from the beginning. Your hype guys and gals love that. Are there any negatives? Like I know that of course, everything's so amazing.

You've sold your company? Crazy, crazy, cool. But obviously everything is not always positive. Life isn't always full of ups. Has there been anything that you didn't expect or any downsides that have come out of this this time? I mean, I, I can't think of downsides but things that I didn't, I didn't really think about before was, I mean, obviously there are a bunch of us that were really excited about the acquisition because we've been working on it for so long and, and you know, a lot of us really saw it as a success, but there were people especially on the team who were not happy about it or very nervous about it because for example, they had been part of other acquisitions and, and as a part of those acquisitions, they lost their jobs or like, I think there were people who can know an acquisition with my bad vibes, you know, and so that I, I, I didn't realize and that, that was something that we were trying to be mindful of.

I mean, with our acquisition, no one, I mean, 100% of people are staying and no one um is losing their job. Uh So it was really important for us to reiterate. But I know there was a lot of nervousness around that. And otherwise, I mean, you know what the other thing that founders probably have to recognize is your job changes. I like my job now is very different. There are things that I used to work on that I don't work on anymore, but also I'm not the end decision maker anymore. And I think that issue probably is something that uh founders get frustrated by because for so long, like you're the boss, you make the decisions, this is your company. But yes, it's your vision. But once you sell the company, you have to recognize that someone bought the company. And probably in a lot of cases, you're not going to be the decision maker, it's really people higher up. And, you know, I've had to make peace with that because they are decisions that get made, you know, at much higher levels than me.

And, uh, and it can take some getting used to. How long do you think you'll stay working with Hero Cosmetics now that you've gone through the acquisition, you know what I'm there for as long as they need me. Um, and, yeah, I mean, I don't really have specific plans. I don't have like, a date where, you know, I'm like, you know, this day I'm out. Uh, I'm just there. Yeah, like this is a an out contract moment date locked in kind of thing, right? You're just going with the flow. Yeah, for us it's not like that. Yeah. Wow, that's cool. Yeah, I'm just, I'm here to, you know, be helpful and, and it's great because now I'm doing things like um I'm working more with some of the international teams to prepare this brand to go international. So, you know, traveling for retailer meeting and I don't know, I might have to go to Canada in a few months for a big like launch event and, and those types of things I think are really fun for, for a founder if you, you know, if you like that type of thing, like sharing the story and the vision and getting people really excited about it now that you've played the business game from literally the very beginning to literally the best case scenario.

And I feel like in business people talk a lot about like the 0 to 1 phase and the like 1 to 10 phase and then that getting to 100 million phase when you look back, what was your favorite phase of building the business? Like, if you had to, like, just choose that bit to do again, where would you sit? Oh, gosh, that's such a good question. I mean, I really liked the 0 to 1. I, I think I liked from 0 to 10. I mean, there were just different things that I liked about different, different parts of the journey. But I, I would say 0 to 10, you know, because now our companies, we're probably like 80 people and I don't, there are a lot of people I don't know. And I, you know, there are a lot of people I don't work with anymore but from 0 to 10, like I knew every single person at the company I knew, you know, what they were doing and we'd have regular check ins and it was like going on in their lives and I, I, I've lost that just because the company is so big now, which is sort of sad.

Um And then I, I just remember like early on like every win is so sweet because yeah, you're literally building something from scratch. And um I mean, I remember moments like when we were mentioned in the New York Times and like, what an amazing moment that was just like seeing our brand name um in that article and and us all trying to get ready for all the traffic that was gonna come from from this article um or our first retailer that was, that was such a proud moment, seeing us in anthropology and like being so excited. So I, I think there's like such sweetness to those like small moments, those small wins because yeah, you literally are starting from that. Nothing that I, I really cherish. Oh Love that. Would you do it all again now that, you know, the journey? Yeah, I mean, I, I would, I don't know, uh I don't know if I would start something from scratch. Maybe I'm not sure. But I'm, I'd also be interested in uh maybe like buying an existing company that I see potential in that um that just needs like a little like some resources and some help.

But yeah, but generally, you know what I would do it all over again. This is my first exit. I hope it's not my last. Oh, that sounds exciting. Yeah, I hope to, I mean, there's a uh a little bit of, um, you know, it's probably like giving birth, like right after, right after you saw the company, you're like, oh my God, I'm never doing this again. It was so hard. But then after you're like, hm, I could do it again. You know, I could probably do this again. I mean, as well. Like this was a five year journey for you like, yeah, not that long in the big scheme of things. Yeah. Yeah. Like a that's been around for a real long time. 30 plus years. Yeah. Holy moly. Now, in hindsight and also having like a little bit of distance six months I to like process what it's been like for you. What are your kind of overall key takeaways or like insights slash learnings that you would want to pass on to anyone listening to the show who is a founder or a future founder wanting to build a business?

Oh, let's see. I would say um it really comes down to making an amazing product. I'm reading this book called Breakthrough Brands because I mean, you know, there's so many brands out there and not everyone breaks through to, I don't know, let's say like the 80 $100 million level. So like, what is it about these brands that do break through? Like what makes them break through? And he talks a lot about like the basic thing is just having an amazing product. Uh because when, you know, when people try it and they really like it, they will repeat. Um I think in the beginning, there's a lot of there's probably too much weight, put on brand and not enough weight, put on the product. So I would say focus on your product and for us, I mean, the body product, which is our hero product. I mean, it is an amazing product through and through and, uh, even, you know, in the very beginning when we had, um, we had a different, um, look for the packaging, which was, you know, it's not what it is today.

Like, it still, uh, did really well just because the product experience I think was really amazing for everybody and for us, you know what, I think the fact that we were really profitable was very important in getting that transaction because, and especially these days, I think you have to be profitable. I don't think anyone will. Well, I don't know, I mean, maybe there are exceptions, but it doesn't seem like there are many cases where they will, where anyone will entertain a business that's not profitable. So yeah, like focus on building a business, a good business that can really last the test of time and that's going to be it being cash flow positive and profitable and not always relying on raising money. Love that obsess about the product and obsess about the numbers. What do you want to shout about for hero? Like what are you doing now? Since you've been acquired that are like on this next level kind of stage or arena that you can tell us about?

Well, we just launched our first ever brand campaign on Connected TV. Um I mean, for the first, we're going into year six. So the first, you know, five years, four or five years, we only focus on lower funnel. So it was very kind of Roz driven and it was, you know, really about efficiency. But also we spent the first four years really fine tuning our brand and figuring out who like who we are and what we stand for as a brand. So we did that work the past two years and then now we're, we felt like we were in a really good place to start uh moving our dollars more upper funnel. So I don't know if he's on linkedin, but I posted one of the commercials that we filmed and um it's all around pimple your mighty patch. So we personify the pimple on someone's face, you know, and all those like terrible moments like at a wedding or on a date or when you're on a vacation and then we have the mighty patch, like fall down and really get rid of the pimple. But that I think the hero in this story. Yeah, exactly.

And so far, I think the response has been really great and, you know, we're finally moving more into that brand area which we haven't done for the five, you know, for like 56 years. Um So it's, I think it's gonna be a huge, oh my gosh, how exciting. Goodness. I love that for you. Hey, it's June here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show and want even more of the good stuff I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our free newsletter. We send it out weekly covering female founder, business news insights and learnings in D to C and interesting business resources. And if you're a founder building an e-commerce brand, you can join our private network of entrepreneurs called hype club at female startup club dot com forward slash hype club. We have guests from the show joining us for intimate, ask me any things, expert workshops and a group of totally amazing like minded women building the future of DC brands.

As always, please do subscribe, rate and review the show and post your favorite episodes to Instagram stories. I am beyond grateful when you do that.

Ju Rhyu Sold Her Business, Hero Cosmetics, for $630 Million. Here’s her Playbook for the Life Changing Acquisition (Part 1)
Ju Rhyu Sold Her Business, Hero Cosmetics, for $630 Million. Here’s her Playbook for the Life Changing Acquisition (Part 1)
replay_10 forward_10