Investing in YourKaya
“It results from upbringing, what our parents will tell us, or more often, what they won’t tell us, and we have many stories from our clients that the first menstruation was a huge surprise for them, because no one had discussed the topic with them before. And they were also afraid to ask. Other of us have memories from school where — during a lesson on the subject — boys were asked to leave the classroom. And in this regard, not much has changed.” As a Polish woman, Kaja Rybicka says she knows how sensitive the subject of menstruation can be.
Subscription e-commerce, led by start-ups such as Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron meal kits, and Stitch Fix personal styling, is a fast-growing new way of buying online. McKinsey research shows that 15 percent of US online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis, frequently through monthly boxes. Subscription e-commerce services offer these consumers — often younger, affluent urbanites — a convenient, personalized, and, often lower-cost way to buy what they want and need.
When we evaluated YourKaya’s potential to achieve 10x ROI, obviously we liked a lot of what we saw looking across multiple categories. But as we think about the many investment opportunities we evaluated over the years, we don’t often come across a company that addresses a market gap based on a taboo subject. And the market gap isn’t Poland’s alone, it exists in many other countries. This creates a great opportunity for a unique and fresh communication style that allows YourKaya to create a special connection with their female users.
It’s interesting that the founders Kaja Rybicka and Marek Gut discovered the taboo-based market gap while doing general research on opportunities around subscription-based business models. During their market research, they said they realized that in Europe, hygienic products for women — -tampons, sanitary pads and panty liners — -are not considered a medical-grade product, so they’re not subject to certain production and quality restrictions. Often these products include a lot of unnecessary substances such as mixtures of synthetics, fibers, polyester and rayon. Mesh casings can also cause chafing and non-organic cotton is artificially bleached with chlorine to give it a snow-white color. YourKaya products are made of 100% organic certified cotton. They are not bleached with chlorine, do not contain toxins, synthetic additives, dyes or fragrance.
When we listened to the YourKaya founders’ story and plans, we realized we were sitting across a couple of special young founders, who resembled passion, dedication and drive. They addressed a market gap left open by a worldwide taboo subject with an environmentally friendly product that is affordable and delivered to doorsteps in customizable orders (which is also timely, given the current pandemic). We were doubly impressed that they organized communication and a community around the subject of women’s menstruation.
Your KAYA was able to create a safe space for conversations about very personal issues — something they said that women in Poland needed. Their Facebook discussion group is at nearly 14,000 members at the time of writing, with even more visiting their website forums and blog posts for personal exchanges.
The firm wants to enter Western Europe, including France, Germany, and Spain — all of which have a similar market gap as Poland. Sales of intimate hygiene products in these markets are worth over EUR 5 billion — The intimate hygiene products market is worth PLN 2 billion in Poland alone, and USD 38 billion worldwide.
Since the introduction of personalization of orders in February, the pace of acquiring new subscribers has increased more than seven times because they can personalize orders — e.g. the ability to precisely specify the number of tampons and pads or the date of delivery. In addition, YourKaya introduced a new user-friendly subscription interface and new payments and delivery methods which much improve user experience.
We are thrilled we can work with such talented young entrepreneurs as Kaja and Marek and are very excited to see them unveil their mission to deliver healthy and convenient feminine products across Europe.