I've Got 2 Tampons and $200,000: A Memoir
Let me start by saying, startup life is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for people who value things like consistency or guarantees or sense. It’s a journey. A wildly unpredictable journey. It comes with anger, frustration and tears. Real tears. But, it also comes with triumphs and laughs and determination (and lots of wine). And THAT is why startups are a breed all their own, but a breed worth getting to know. FlipperSplash is a startup and the first startup I have ever been involved with. As a millennial, it is in my genetic makeup to be interested in startups. I mean, if I’m going to jump around from one job to another anyway, I might as well do it with companies that have a 75% rate of failure. Am I right?! ;-) Real talk though, the feeling of being involved with something that brings you more than just a paycheck is a feeling unlike any other. (Disclaimer: the paycheck is also super important for things like rent, food and general survival.)
Many of you know FlipperSplash through our Instagram presence or the super rad parties we’ve thrown throughout the summer. You see a room full of Influencers and the local Brands eager to work with them. You see smiles and laughs and a whole lot of Instagram posts. We seem pretty put together – most of the time. But, let me tell you, this has been a LONG, winding road. With bumps and bears and stuff.
So, let me give you the full story. The story about a dream that is well on its way to becoming a reality and why on Earth it was worth all the heartache along the way…
For those of you who don’t know, FlipperSplash started as an idea dreamt up by our fearless leader, and current CEO, Monica. As she has quite the impressive background (cough – she was an extra on Saved by the Bell – cough), I will give you the abridged version. After being a member of the 7-person startup team of Salesforce.com, she had some kids and then thought “hey, I should invent a product to make raising all these kids easier”. I mean, that’s how we all think, right? Especially those of us with 3 kids under age 3. (yeah right!) So, Monica invented the Little Looster – a potty-training stool. With a dwindling budget and a whole lot of product to sell, she began working with Mom Bloggers. Using a simple product-trade campaign strategy, she worked to get her product into the hands of moms who were reaching THOUSANDS of other moms, nationwide. While we more commonly use the term Influencer now, as opposed to Blogger, the idea of Influencer Marketing is still there. And it worked. Here’s the problem: Finding Mom Bloggers with kids of potty-training age was a daunting task and one that took many, many hours on the Google. And this is how FlipperSplash was born. Of course, back then it was just an idea. There was no name, no team, no anything.
Fast forward a few years. Semi-fresh out of college, I had just left a job that was not right for me and was stoked to start working as a Social Media Coordinator under a very vibrant, somewhat insane boss. (Spoiler Alert: It was Monica.)
While focused on our current company, Monica and I chatted about her dream to start a company. We talked about the premise of the platform and who it would help. We talked about how incredible it would be and about how nothing like it currently existed. Well, lucky for us, there is no motivation quite like the desire to leave a toxic environment and our job had become just enough to push Monica to do what she had wanted to do all along and, bonus, she wanted me to come with her!
Now, I’m not sure how much you all know about startup companies, but one of the key things you need to start a company is money. When developing a platform totally different from anything in existence, you need a lot of money. So, there began our journey. It started with all-nighters at Monica’s kitchen table - building investor decks and reaching out to any and all connections we had to try and get this company in motion. Then, it happened. We had our first investor. Someone who knew and trusted us enough to give us money (and a lot of money) to make this dream a reality. That day will forever stand out in my mind. Monica and I both had it all riding on the start of this company and had become so mentally, emotionally and fiscally drained waiting for this silver lining. We had empty wallets, empty bank accounts and were running dangerously low on some serious life essentials. Monica turned to me and said “Well, I’ve got two tampons and $200,000 in my purse – let’s do this.”
It was that moment that I realized how much I wanted this dream to be a reality. I realized that I would put everything I had into making this succeed. Sure, I had some things to lose if things went south, but nothing like what Monica was risking. She believed enough to risk it all and that is something incredible. Especially with the stats stacking up against you.
(Fun Fact: Only 17% of startups have a female founder.)
I’d like to report that things have been smooth sailing since then, but that would be a lie. We have had some extreme highs and some even more extreme lows. Our team has grown, changed and all things in between. Three years, two names, five business card designs, countless logos and an obscene number of hours later and here we are - still standing with our heads above water. Countless people have been there to help us along the way and we are eternally thankful. We couldn’t be more excited to show everyone the FlipperSplash App that has been in our dreams for years. We look forward to ringing in 2018 with a real-life, functioning mobile app available in App Stores! Stay with us, we’re almost there.