In the Familiar Faces series, our Target Accelerators Program Managers check in with companies who have participated in one of our Target Accelerators programs. This is a chance to dig in and learn more about each company’s growth since completing their Target Accelerators experience and our way of continuing to root them on every step of the entrepreneurial way. Welcome to Familiar Faces. 

Checking in with Privy, Target Takeoff Wellness alumni | Interview by Anne Kitchen, Target Takeoff Program Manager

Privy is developing the next generation of science-backed feminine care solutions with an emphasis on care – as women, we want to feel comfortable and confident in every moment, and we think that’s something all women deserve, no matter their life stage.

Privy’s first product, Finess, hit shelves nationwide at Target on Sunday, October 11th, 2020. For more information, check out Privy’s first company video featuring Finess.

Anne: It’s been about a year and a half since you went through the Takeoff Wellness program and it seems the world is completely different from then. What are the top three things that come to mind about the growth andevolution of Privy, including your first product Finess, over the last 18 months? 

Thomas Berryman, Founder, Privy: Bladder leaks have historically been a pretty staid category in femcare. The willingness of Target to take on an emerging brand, especially one that is pioneering an entirely new category, speaks volumes about Target’s commitment to be a leader in the space, and provides real validation that what we’re doing with Finess is important.

Knowing that partnering with Target was going to bring much greater national exposure motivated us to really look at every aspect of how we present the product and the brand. One result of this was all new packaging design, including addition of a new SKU – a trial pack – that the femcare merchant team really wanted.

It meant a big increase in demand for our small team. Moving from online direct-to-consumer only to becoming a supplier to Target was a big challenge. Being a startup doesn’t exempt us from having to comply with Target’s supplier requirements and learn its systems. We’ve had to ride up a very big learning curve – still are!

Anne: You recently brought in a CEO, Evi Heillbrun. Walk me through that process – how did you know it was time? What advice would you have for other founders who are considering a move like this? 

Thomas Berryman, Founder, Privy: My expertise is in the medical technology world, more oriented toward clinical science and product development, along with how to build new ventures from the very beginning. I knew when I started the company that the time would come when it would be essential to have a woman at the helm of the company. We are, after all, fundamentally a femcare company, and the more consumer-facing we were the more important it became to have someone like Evi leading the way, not just for “optics” but to have her deep understanding of the consumer guiding our decisions.

Evi Heilbrunn, CEO

Anne: Congratulations on joining the team, Evi! Finess is part of a larger company strategy, Privy, which seems like a smart and strategic business move in terms of deepening your portfolio. How has an approach like that benefited you in such a turbulent economy, world?

Evi Heilbrunn, CEO, Privy: I began investing in the future of women’s health early in the pandemic. What we do when we are most fearful says a lot about who we are, and in a time of such great unknowns in New York this spring, I realized it was time for me to step past the fear of taking a big risk and enter the world of healthcare startup innovation and supporting the next generation of female CEOs and founders. That’s what led me to meeting Tom and joining Privy.

Anne: Fem Tech is a growing category of products and services and has been for some time. What are you most excited about in this field, both from a Finess standpoint and what you are seeing in terms of innovation beyond your company? 

Evi Heilbrunn, CEO, Privy: Women got the vote over 100 years ago, and yet, this past August Rock Health published a report calling out that while women continue to make up 80%+ of health purchasing decisions in this country, less than 3% of venture capital since 2011 has gone towards companies trying to redefine, and in our case, invent, entirely new subsections of the women’s health market. I’m most excited about being in a cohort of female founders and entrepreneurs who are creating and investing in innovative solutions for age-old problems.

It’s important that we at Privy not only seek to create a line of safe, clinically sound products at an affordable price – but that we also start a much louder conversation about the need to invest in solutions that offer women additional choices  that differ from traditional products and are unique to her own body.

As women we are offered a bevy of choices on almost everything on any aisle at any store, until you get to the feminine care one.  We’re excited to be part of that change.

Anne: You recently announced that Finess has been added to Target shelves across the country. What does this milestone mean for you and your team?

Thomas Berryman, Founder, Privy: It is a huge milestone in two important dimensions.

More than anything, becoming a Target partner greatly amplifies our message to women, that there are real science-based alternatives available to her for addressing this very prevalent issue of unexpected bladder leaks. Seeing a product like this on the shelves at Target gives the Guest confidence that this is a solution to consider.

This opportunity provides a solid foundation for us from which to grow the overall Privy brand, bringing women more solutions to address these so-called ’taboo’ categories in women’s personal care.

For more information on Privy, check out privywoman.com and follow them on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. For more information on Privy’s first product, Finess, check out havefiness.com and follow them on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. For press inquiries, please reach out to info@privywoman.com.

Privy founder, Thomas Berryman, taking part in the Target Takeoff Wellness program in 2019.