How Did She Do It? A Q&A with Colette Courtion, CEO and Co-Founder of Joylux, named a ‘most innovative company’
Jen Levy and Deb Doyle, Managing Directors of Golden SeedsApril 25, 2019
How one woman’s journey into motherhood, coupled with her passion for transformational beauty products and medical devices, led to an innovative health solution for the enormous, but underserved female intimate care market.
Joylux is a FemTech company that creates innovative consumer and medical devices and products that transform women’s pelvic floor health, empowering women to live their best lives. Joylux seeks to improve vaginal health for postpartum, perimenopausal and menopausal women through its portfolio of non-invasive, at-home solutions using innovative red light, thermal energy and sonic vibration under the vSculpt and vFit brands. Joylux recently won the prestigious Luis Villalobos Award, given each year by the Angel Capital Association to the company considered the “most innovative company.”
Golden Seeds’ Jen Levy and Deb Doyle discussed with Colette how she used personal inspiration and professional experience to found a leading FemTech company.
JL and DD: Tell us about the origins of your company.
CC: I started Joylux from my own personal experience. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had girlfriends who shared their pregnancy experiences with me. Of course, there were some things I expected to hear — weight gain, nausea, those sorts of things — but I wasn’t expecting them to share with me that after I gave birth, I’d wet my pants when I sneezed or if I jumped up and down. No one had shared this before. I had no idea. Why was nobody talking about this? I did some research and realized that this was stress incontinence and it affects a large number of women, at least one in three women, though we suspect it’s underreported and it actually affects more like 50 percent of all women.
I also learned that there are very few options for women. Surgery may be an appropriate path for very severe cases. But, for the most part, if you didn’t have surgery, you just had to live with it or change your lifestyle to avoid these embarrassing moments.
My background is in medical aesthetics — tightening, toning and restoring facial tissue — and I had this “a-ha” moment, when I thought, “Why can’t we take this same technology and apply it to pelvic health?” That’s what led to the creation of Joylux. I was looking for a safe and non-invasive way to help women tighten and tone their pelvic floor.
JL and DD: What market need are you solving, and how is your approach different from how others have addressed this need?
CC: When I first conceived the idea of Joylux, it was specifically designed to help women suffering from stress urinary incontinence. But now that we’re in the market, the feedback we’re really hearing is that menopausal and perimenopausal women are buying our product because they’re experiencing relief in the three major issues of pelvic health — stress incontinence, vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse. In fact, we did two surveys — the first was 2,300 women and the second was more than 5,000 women — and in both cases, well over 50 percent of women say they suffer from at least one of the three issues.
When you look at the amount of money that is being spent to mask these three problems, it’s astonishing. Incontinence pads make up a $7B market in the U.S. alone. It’s believed that the sale of adult diapers will actually surpass sales of baby diapers because of our aging population. So incontinence alone is a is a massive market. Then, take a look at the market for vaginal dryness: Women spend $8 billion on hormone-replacement creams and another few billion dollars on over-the-counter lubricants.
We are the only non-invasive, multi-symptom device on the market. The limited options that are on the consumer market don’t address the tissue damage. We’re the first home-use device in the world using our patented energy-based technology. Our solution uses red light, gentle heat and sonic vibration to target all three symptoms by depositing energy into the tissue to increase collagen production and impact vascularization.
JL and DD: What challenges have you encountered along the way? How have you overcome them?
The first challenge was funding. This is a sensitive topic and talking pelvic health with investors is not easy. We live in a male-dominated funding world, so many of our potential investors are men and simply don’t understand this problem. This became a real challenge when it came to raising funds for the company, but we overcame this challenge by seeking out funding from female investors, like Golden Seeds. If the women aren’t specifically familiar with what I’m talking about, chances are they have girlfriends who are. Women want to support other women, so it’s always been a great audience for us to talk about our company.
We’ve also had marketing challenges. For our target demographic, one of the best vehicles to approach them is Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t allow ads for any products that have to do with women’s intimate health to be marketed on their platform. They allow for men’s intimate health products, such as condoms or erectile dysfunction products, under the umbrella of “family planning.” But they don’t categorize women’s intimate health products under family planning. Instead, they classify it under sexual content. This has forced us to be very clever and creative in how we talk about our product. There are so many women who are desperate that they are seeking out solutions.
JL and DD: What’s coming up next for your company? Any big milestones on the horizon?
CC: I’m happy to report that Joylux recently won the prestigious Luis Villalobos Award, given each year by the Angel Capital Association to the company considered the “most innovative company.” The Angel Capital Association is made up of more than 14,000 accredited investors, including Golden Seeds. We’re really excited about that because it validates all the hard work that our team is doing.
We’re also growing. We launched last year in the U.S., and today we are sold in more than 200 doctors’ offices in the U.S., which is great because physicians are the most knowledgeable and trusted resources on what works to help pelvic health. We’re also being sold direct-to-consumer online, and we just launched a partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow’s online marketplace, Goop. Goop has been very vocal about women’s sexual health and we’re thrilled that a figurehead as well-known and respected as Gwyneth has embraced our solution. We have other online retailers and very prestigious e-tailers who have also invited us to sell on their channels.
We’re launching consumable products this year — oils, creams and cleansers — that are geared toward vaginal health, and we have additional innovations we’re adding to our current device, such as bluetooth connectivity, which allow us to provide customization with the individual on what treatment is appropriate for them. We’re working through a 510(k) clearance with the FDA. It’s a very exciting time.
JL and DD: What advice do you have for early-stage founders about raising money, growing a team, fostering company culture or other issues you’ve had to address?
CC: First and foremost, even if you have the greatest idea, you must have a team in place to help execute it. You simply can’t do it by yourself. You have to surround yourself with people who are passionate about your company and your solution. There are many highs and lows in entrepreneurship, but there are definitely lows. You need to make sure the team you surround yourself with is prepared to take on those tough times with you.
Always have more money in the bank than you think you need. I’ve found myself in the position several times where I thought, “If we only had a little more money to take this or that to the next level.”
Networking is also an area where I wish I had spent more time. We’re setting out to make a real difference in women’s lives, and in order to truly do that, you need introductions to people in the industry to connect you to different channels or to help make introductions to companies to partner with. Networking is critical to a young company in the early days.
JL and DD: Tell us about your experience with Golden Seeds. How has the Golden Seeds network been helpful to you?
In addition to funding, Golden Seeds, as a network of angel investors, has been incredibly supportive. They understand the challenges we face and support us through them. They’ve been so helpful as we grow and scale and have made invaluable introductions to physicians, which is critical to the success of our company.
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