3 min readBusiness 30 April 2019
Transitioning into womanhood has not always been a comfortable experience. However, co-founders Taran and Bunny Ghatrora have successfully created a space for girls and women to celebrate womanhood
Earlier this month, their company, Blume, announced that they had raised $3.3 million in seed funding from Felicis Ventures, Victress Capital, Panache Ventures, and Eric Reis (author of The Lean Startup).
Taran Ghatrora recently sat down with SWAAY to talk about the fundraising journey and what the future now holds for Blume.
After noticing that current personal-care and menstrual products on the market were not catering to the needs of Gen Z consumers, the Ghatrora sisters founded Blume, a sustainable care brand that would provide girls and women with non-toxic period products, clean skincare and educational resources.
"We realized that [Gen Z] was underserved especially in the realm of the products they need when they go through puberty," said Taran Ghatrora. "We knew from experience that that's a really difficult time to go through. You get your period, and then you need to buy a training bra, deodorant, and you're also getting acne and need to buy skincare. That's what made us ask, 'Why is there no go-to brand?' And it's primarily a Gen Z problem because they're the ones currently going through puberty."
As the Ghatrora sisters' research and experiences supported their desire to fill this gap in the market, it was equally important for them to find investors who understood and believed in their mission, as well. "A lot of the investors we met were through introductions and through building relationships." said Ghatrora. "Some people we had known for years and have been mentoring or advising us." The entrepreneurial duo was well aware that not every investor would be the right fit for their company. "We filtered through what investors would matter to us and we didn't just look broadly, we were very targeted in who we would speak to and how they would help us elevate the business." Ghatrora stated.
In order for a mutually driven investment to be successful, Ghatrora also came to understand what it would take, on their end, to attract the right investors. Investors want to know that the company understands their audience and the market of the products they're selling. "We're customer centric. To really know our customers and create a product that they want meant the company was doing well, and in turn, that helped us attract investors." said Ghatrora. Blume was the perfect example of a business that understood their community and remained loyal to them.
Round leader Victoria Treyger, General Partner and Managing Director at Felicis Ventures, was particularly moved by Blume's unique outreach stating that, "How Blume taps into its loyal community to co-create new products is something incumbent CPG brands cannot do themselves." After coming to learn more about the company's mission and audience, Suzanne Norris, partner at Victress Capital, felt that there was a noticeable white space in the market for products aimed directly towards Gen Z consumers. "Blume is the only brand that is approaching the Gen Z consumers' needs in this cohesive way across both commerce, and content [...] We strongly support Blume's mission and we are honored to partner with their team."
When asked about their journey to fundraising, Ghatrora credited her investors for making the experience a little less tumultuous. "Fundraising is very hard. We're really fortunate and grateful to have awesome investors that understand our mission and are behind it 100%. I think a lot of the time, people overlook how important it is to spend time building relationships, not just with the goal of raising money, but to know if you are a good fit for each other," said Ghatrotra. "All money is not equal. You really have to resonate on a mission and raise at the right time." Despite only 2% of venture capital funds going towards women, Ghatrora expressed how happy she was that more funding is slowly but surely supporting women-run businesses.
As a woman and a minority founder, Ghatrora offered a piece of advice to her peers who are also embarking on the journey to fundraising. "My advice would be to go for it and don't let anything discourage you. Build relationships and remember that you have a brand that you're really passionate about and you're the expert at that. Don't be too swayed by mentor whiplash or too much advice. Stick to your guns and to the product and brand that you know best."
Now that Blume has successfully raised funding, customers must be wondering what's next for the female care brand. Ghatrora reassures, "There's so much to be done in this space. We're really excited to build up the community, build on the education, and in the future add additional products to help our customers. It's really just the beginning."
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.