Founded by two Harvard Business School grads, Bundle Organics offers a line of organic prenatal juices made specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding women. I got a chance to ask the founders how they identified and built such a fast-growing business in this unusual “white space.” What they shared can help you find your next big growth opportunity.
As cofounder John Mascari suggests, it’s about building a “white space” thesis, testing before investing, being more passionate about your customer than fretting about your career, and knowing that “friends, family and exercise are the most important part of your journey.”
Whatever you’re building, you will find an insight in Bundle Organics’ experience that will help you get there faster.
How did you recognize the opportunity for Bundle Organics (e.g., was it a personal need, did you use some of the frameworks you learned at HBS)?
[Cofounder Kwany Lui] and I knew we wanted to start a business, and when it came to consumer businesses, our holy grail idea, so to speak, would be one that fulfilled a true consumer need. We started digging into prenatal nutrition because we saw real frustrations from my pregnant sister and Kwany’s pregnant best friend. Both women were struggling to get the right nutrients in their diet while pregnant—they were looking for products that were uncompromisingly healthy, convenient and delicious with an ingredient label that didn’t need to be Googled along with the phrase “Is it safe while pregnant?”
When we started to ask more pregnant women and their caregivers (OBGYNs, doulas, nutritionists, etc.) if they would be receptive to a line of organic juices designed just for expecting women and fortified with nutrients that are complementary to prenatal vitamins, the enthusiastic responses made it clear that we had a real opportunity. We knew that if we took on the challenge of trying to make expecting mom’s life easier during pregnancy, we would have a real shot at building a passionate following of folks that would not only be loyal but also eager to refer Bundle Organics to their friends and family.
As cofounders, we certainly think in terms of frameworks and are very data-driven. So once we saw that there was a product opportunity, we immediately started asking questions, collecting consumer feedback and building a thesis that would ultimately serve as our strategic blueprint. That thesis includes, for example, what product attributes would be most valuable to our consumer, where would she want to buy Bundle Organics, what would make her pregnancy more delightful, etc.
Our view was that if we developed a strong thesis, we could be flexible around the execution while nevertheless making deliberate decisions that always keeps our consumer in mind.
Therefore, we built our company infrastructure around the thesis—including our home delivery service—and, when problem-solving, we continue to always ask ourselves, “Is this consistent with the thesis?”
Our readers are very interested in strategic thinking and what it means to approach problems and opportunities strategically. Do you have anything to suggest or say about that?
Test then invest! Our process always starts by succinctly defining the problem that we are trying to solve. Next we look for all of potential reasons why we are having this problem or could have this problem in the future. We brainstorm internally and get feedback outside of the company, including with our consumers, to identify possible ways to overcome these challenges. We “test” all of the quality solutions over a defined, limited amount of time and with minimal financial investment. Then we analyze the results (what worked well/what didn’t/how does it fit with the Company thesis) and, finally, invest more time/money in the winners. This flexibility to test then invest helps us get to the “right” answer quickly and cheaply and keeps everyone focused on the goal.
What made you committed enough to the idea to really pursue it? I imagine you had many other, more traditional career opportunities you could have pursued or continued instead?
We were both committed to starting a business so we were already convinced that the risk was worth it if we could only find the right idea that we both felt tremendously passionate about. I think both commitment to and passion for your business is very important. Entrepreneurship is such an emotional rollercoaster and it’s helpful to always be inspired by your business so you can be thinking, “How do we make this business better, delight the customer more” instead of “should I really be doing this job, what about my opportunity cost?”
With Bundle Organics, we felt that we identified white space where there was a true need and, crucially, we were so excited about creating a great brand and product for this particular customer group. Pregnancy is a major catalyst for changing your eating habits and the community of expecting and new moms is passionate and willing to share products and companies they love and that are making their lives a little easier during what is usually a very trying time for women.
While we were incubating the business idea, many traditional CPG folks told us the market was too small—while that feedback has been tremendously helpful as we think about our vision as a whole, we think those people are underestimating the power of giving a consumer something that makes her life even just a little bit more delightful during one of the most important times in her life. We are pretty thankful to now have an ecosystem of team-members, investors and advisors that believe in that power. Every day our society realizes more and more how important nutrition is and it all starts as early as pregnancy. Bundle Organics represents a way to help new and expecting moms get the best quality nutrition they need, when they need it most and we are so thrilled to have that mission. Women have enough to worry about during their 40 weeks!
Who do you see as Bundle’s competitors and how are you seeking to make Bundle different from them (e.g., it seems you are seeking to create a new category or sub-category or delivery mechanism)?
The competitor we think about most often is the DIY juicer: a woman juicing at home or packing herself a healthy, organic fruit- and veggie-filled snack. As a result, when we think about our product—its cost, the experience and convenience—we think about how we can create value for our customers beyond what they are able to do at home. That’s not easy.
Can you describe who your core customer is?
We have two types of core customers, but their habits intersect during pregnancy. We have the woman that has been picking up a raw juice on her way to work for the last few years and turned to Bundle Organics when she became pregnant and needed a safe (pasteurized) alternative. We also have the woman for whom pregnancy has made her look at nutrition in a whole new way and Bundle Organics gives her a delicious and convenient means to have a healthy pregnancy.
What have been the 1 to 3 most important lessons you want to share from bringing your idea from concept to launch?
Your suppliers can be your best friends or the road blocks preventing you from launching your business. Take the time to get to know your suppliers before bringing them in—ask for several references from startup as well as established clients, meet in person, and don’t compromise on your views of sound business practices (we had suppliers that tried to steer us away from using contracts which should be an obvious red flag). I think this all sounds like common sense, but when you are a startup you will get hundreds of “no” responses from potential suppliers before you get one “yes” and, as a result, you’ll be tempted to skip a few steps when doing the due diligence on the supplier who said he would take your business. We made some mistakes with the first “yes” —luckily that partnership failed before any real damage was done, but we certainly learned our lesson.
Get feedback and be flexible, but keep perspective when receiving feedback. Insights from customers, investors, and other entrepreneurs are invaluable when you are thinking about your positioning and strategy. And while you need to be open to people’s input, also know that everyone will point you in different directions so you need to be able to filter all the feedback and make a decision on how to move your company forward. I am most proud of our team’s ability to take feedback, internalize feedback, and be flexible and pivot if needed.
Friends, family and exercise are the most important part of your journey. Trying to launch a business is emotionally taxing so making time for your friends, family and staying healthy is critical to keeping perspective and sanity.
What is your long-term vision or mission or purpose for Bundle?
To build a full line of food and beverage products for new and expecting moms that becomes the most trusted brand in perinatal nutrition.