In conversation with Shakivla Todd, IFundWomen’s Content Marketing Director, and Drew Jarvis, Co-Founder and CMO of Sunny
#Funded is a series where we talk to past IFundWomen crowdfunders about how they prepped, launched, and executed successful crowdfunding campaigns. Read below to learn about the crowdfunding journey of the team over at Sunny.
My name is Drew Jarvis and I am the Co-Founder and CMO of Sunny. Sunny is a small period care business that created the Sunny Cup + Applicator, the first reusable period cup that inserts like a tampon using the reusable applicator. We are on a mission to create the best sustainable period care products, deliver honest period education, and build global give-back initiatives to help end period poverty.
It’s been 2 whole years since Sunny first launched our crowdfunding campaign through IFundWomen! We raised nearly $9,000, which was crucial to taking the next steps in product development. At that time, we were in the thick of prototyping and testing what is now known as the Sunny Cup + Applicator. We were doing everything we could to bootstrap product development and were looking for non-dilutive funding opportunities left and right. IFundWomen was the perfect platform for uplifting our small two-person, women-led team.
Getting the messaging right was so challenging. We were constantly going in and tweaking things and learning better ways to communicate our mission. It’s taken years for us to hone our message and deliver it clearly, especially to those who may be less informed about periods and reproductive health. Our business looks so different than it did during our crowdfunding campaign, but we learned a lot about what resonates with people. Our biggest takeaway, though, is how much work should be put into a campaign. Make sure you understand your brand or at the very least your mission and goals.
And NETWORK! Reach out to people weeks in advance to let them know you’re crowdfunding and keep up with communication throughout the entire campaign. We expected funds to just roll in, but it took legwork. We had to quickly shift our strategies and be much more hands-on with communicating.
Since the campaign ended at the end of 2020, so much has happened! Thanks to the IFundWomen crowdfunding campaign funds, in 2021 we were able to create the perfect product, we rebranded to Sunny (formerly Menstrual Mates), built out our website, and launched our social media platforms (@sunnyperiod on Instagram and TikTok).
It wasn’t until 2022 that everything changed. We finished our design and have three patents pending; all that was left was to build the perfect launch plan for our finished product. However, things didn’t quite go according to plan. In April of 2022, we unexpectedly had a video of us demoing the Sunny Cup + Applicator go viral on TikTok. We got such a great response from the video that we decided to launch pre-orders in a matter of 24 hours and hire another full-time employee to keep up with this new traction.
We’ve continued to see Sunny Cup + Applicator pre-orders flood in and our online community grow!
After the crowdfunding campaign, we continued to bootstrap our funds. We entered into every pitch competition we could and ended up winning quite a few. We wanted to hold off on giving up equity as long as we could, and crowdfunding through IFW, pitch competitions, and grants was a good place to start.
However, we knew eventually we’d have to raise a pre-seed round to manage the capital-intensive process of manufacturing a physical product. The momentum from our viral TikTok in April 2022 allowed us to go and raise a $1.5M pre-seed round to begin manufacturing and start this process of getting our product out to customers. The dream is finally coming to reality after several long years. Crowdfunding, pitch competitions, and grants are a good place to start, but now that we’ve closed our pre-seed raise, we can focus on manufacturing and shipping.
Be flexible. Things always take longer than you think they will, and sometimes you have to be okay with that, especially if capital is an issue. There were many times our bank balance was dismal or delays in prototyping made us lose steam, but we always pushed through. Entrepreneurship is funny because it forces "Type-A" people to let go of things we can’t control and go with the flow more than we’re probably used to.
We’ve been building the plane as it takes off, as many entrepreneurs do. We are so excited to continue to develop sustainable period products, get creative with our educational arm, and expand our global give-back initiatives; all priorities outlined in our original crowdfunding campaign back in 2020.
We’ve certainly grown and evolved since crowdfunding with IFundWomen, but we’ve stuck to our core values and couldn’t have made it past those first couple of milestones without the people who believed in us so early on.