Rael, the southern California startup was founded with one thought in mind: bringing comfortable and safe menstrual care products to women everywhere.
Led by three fearless women with significantly various backgrounds, journalist and best-selling author Annes Ann, former Walt Disney Studios distributor and Harvard MBA Yanghee Paik, and architect-turned-art-director Binna Won, the company announced today that it closed $2.1 million in it’s pre-Series A funding round. Ignited by SoftBank Ventures Korea and Thrive Market Ventures, this latest funding round enables Rael to continue its founding mission of “empowering women with healthy period products that don’t sacrifice comfort or performance” by growing its team, expending its Research and Development efforts and marketing outreach.
“Despite knowing what types of products we wanted in our own lives, we weren’t certain if there was an actual need for this new type of feminine care,” said in a press statement Yanghee Paik, Co-Founder and CEO at Rael. “So, after months of research and development, we conducted an initial test on Amazon. The response was overwhelming. We became an Amazon Bestseller within a few months. Women started writing in, sharing their stories, thanking us for creating organic pads that actually worked. At that moment, our vision for Rael was affirmed.”
In a short year since its 2017 launch, Rael has expanded its product line from the original organic pads to a complete range of products for every stage of the menstrual cycle including pads, pantyliners and biodegradable tampons made with 100% certified organic cotton, as well as period underwear, facial sheet masks and cleansing washes and wipes.
The line is already available for purchase in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and South Korea. 1 “We’re excited to partner with investors like SoftBank Ventures Korea and Thrive Market, whose visions align with ours—offering innovative and healthy products at approachable price points while providing the resources women need to make safe and educated decisions for their bodies,” said Paik.
The line biggest hurdle may be its pricing as it is pricier than mainstream products. For example, a box of 16 tampons from Tampax with a plastic applicator (Procter & Gamble) goes for less than $4.00 while a box of Rael’s 16 regular tampons with a cardboard applicator runs for $9.99 (on special right now at $7.99).
Following the initial Amazon success, and with good direct sales on its website, Rael successfully pitched venture capital firms and investors and raised seed financing from investors including Spigen, an Amazon Top 5 Seller; BAM Ventures by Brian Lee, Co-Founder at The Honest Company; Strong Ventures, a seed fund based in California; and Primer, a startup accelerator in South Korea.
“Aness, Binna, and Yanghee are visionary leaders who value women’s personal development and happiness,” said Edward Chung, Principal at SoftBank Ventures Korea. “This vision helps them lead an amazing team and build trusted products. For the past year, the founding team has strived to meet the product-market fit promptly and have thus gained a sterling reputation from customers. I believe they have established a solid foundation to build a strong brand in the organic product category.”
Rael’s funding round also includes a strategic investment from Thrive Market Ventures, the venture investment arm of Thrive Market. “We’re especially impressed with the founding team, who has quickly built a community of loyal customers around their differentiated line of products,” said Nick Green, Founder, and CEO at Thrive Market. “For years, customers have been looking for an effective and affordable feminine care line that uses only clean ingredients. The Rael team has built a beautiful brand around exactly that.”
Paid added, “Half of the world’s population is female, and the average woman experiences menstruation once a month for forty to fifty years. Conventional period products absorb well but are full of toxic chemicals. On the other hand, natural alternatives are healthy but remain unreliable. We created Rael, so women don’t have to sacrifice one or the other.”
(Main photo: Annes Ann, Yanghee Paik, and Binna Won)
Photos courtesy of the company.