By Michael Hinkelman Philadelphia Daily News.
MOLLY HAYWARD, 26, of Swarthmore, is founder of Cora, a startup that distributes customized packages of organic feminine hygiene products to college women in the U.S. and Canada.
Part of the proceeds are used to buy sanitary pads for schoolgirls in India. Cora won the Philly Geek Award for Startup of the Year on Aug. 16.
Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Cora?
A: I learned girls were missing school several days of every month in some countries because they couldn't afford sanitary pads. Also, the more I learned about products women use in the U.S., I realized it was important to offer organic products.
Q: Startup money?
A: I bootstrapped it with $20,000 in personal savings. I started in early 2013 and spent the year researching and building partnerships. In May, we did a crowdfunding campaign to gauge response and raised $33,000.
Q: What's Cora do?
A: We enable women to create a customized box of organic feminine hygiene products, any combination of tampons, sanitary pads and panty liners. Then we mail the boxes on or before the first day of every month.
Q: The biz model?
A: All sales are online at corawomen.com. We're subscription-based so we get most customers via word of mouth. Right now we ship only to the U.S. and Canada. We have several monthly plans ranging from $15 to $35.
Q: Value proposition?
A: This is a product for women who understand the risks of using conventional products. We cater to women who want a healthy alternative and be invested in a firm with a social mission.
Q: Your customers?
A: College students who like our social mission and also live on a campus and like getting the product mailed to them. We also have young professional women who are health-conscious, pro-organic, and are willing to pay more and like the convenience of our model.
A: There are other subscription-based companies selling feminine hygiene products. We are one of the only companies that's exclusively organic, plus you can fully customize an order.
Q: The social impact?
A: We partner with an organization in India who manufactures sustainable, plant-based, disposable sanitary pads [that] we purchase. Another partner distributes the pads to 1,500 girls in two schools, one in Calcutta and the other in New Delhi.
Q: Where's the money come from to help girls in India?
A: For every box we ship to a woman in the U.S., we purchase 16 sanitary pads from our manufacturer to give to [girls] in India each month.
Q: What's next?
A: In another year or two, I want to reach more women on campuses in the U.S. and Canada. I also want to raise a seed fund of $500,000 in six months.