- Napkin Notes
- 🤳🏾 Meet Marlow: The startup idea that got to 100m+ Tik Tok Views and won a TV slot on Dragon's Den
🤳🏾 Meet Marlow: The startup idea that got to 100m+ Tik Tok Views and won a TV slot on Dragon's Den
By the end of this article, you'll wanna add these cofounders on Linkedin.
Good Morning, this is Napkin Notes: where sometimes we have brunch with cool founders in real life then ask if we can share their advice with our newsletter so you can listen in. 🍳
They’ve got some gems all of us can learn from. Like how they scaled to 100 million views on TikTok. Or landed a pitch on CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Or how their startup (valued at $5m+) started as a university project between 4 friends. But we’ll get more into that later. 📺
For now, let’s intro you to our starting line-up.
Cue the smoke and music. 🎶
Our Starting Line-Up
📰 News you missed if you were busy buildin’
📺 How Marlow scored it’s TV pitch on Dragon’s Den
👂 Startup ideas of the week
🗓 Next demo day: November 7
🤣 Laughs + Learns of the week
📰 News You Missed: Canva elbows Adobe with the launch of their new AI features. Biden cancelled $9B of student debt. The Google Pixel Event happened. Netflix is planning to raise prices again. Sam Altman spoke at a YC hangout. Kernaler Shankar just hit the $1,000/month revenue milestone. Our Next Demo day is November 7th. And you still need to book a time to take your fam to the local pumpkin patch. 🎃
Pause your Spotify and top up your fresh press coffee, it’s time to get rolling.👇
📺 How Marlow Secured Its Pitch on Dragon’s Den and Was it Worth It?
Let’s not beat around the bush. Building a startup is hard. Damn hard. And that’s why most people (bless their hearts) go work at a comfy gig like Google, Goldman Sachs or Deloitte.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s all to say, when someone enters the startup domain, chooses to go build an idea and kicks ass at it, there’s always something to learn.
Nadia and Kiara from Marlow are two of those founders that fit the bill. They’ve:
been named on multiple 30 under 30 lists (at 25 years old)
they’ve passed 100m+ views on their startup tik tok
raised over $1m for their venture
and just finished filming a TV pitch for Dragon’s Den
That last one is what we wanna double-click on today. The reason being, we’ve heard a bunch of you ask us marketing questions like: “does press really help?” or “do I really need to be on social media growing our brand?”
In short, yes. But for more nuanced answers, we’ll toss the mic to Nadia and Kiara. 🎙
Q+A with Marlow:
✏️ Q: For those that don’t know, what’s Marlow?
☕️ A: “Marlow is the first lubricated tampon. We’re founded in 2021 by 4 best friends that had a mission to revolutionize menstrual health. We’ve been featured by Forbes, Girlboss, Buzzfeed and many others about the problem we’re solving. We’re available on Amazon, Well.ca and announcing retail store partnerships in early 2024. We’ve raised over $1m to date and have our Dragon’s Den episode dropping Oct 19th”
✏️ Q: What was the process like to land a slot on Dragon’s Den?
☕️ A: “There were 3 stages we went through. A written application, a video interview and finally an in-person meeting. If you are serious about taking it on, we’d recommend having 50+ hours allocated to do it well.
We all chose to show up and pitch as a cofounder team of 4 since we thought it was key to our story. But we’d recommend having one cofounder lead the charge on all the applications and pitch planning.
We were surprised how draining the filming process was. It objectively went really well, but it still takes a lot out of you.”
✏️ Q: What was the biggest surprise about the filming of the Dragon’s Den pitch?
☕️ A: “I think the biggest curve ball for us was remembering that at the end of the day, the Dragon’s Den pitch experience is all about a good TV episode. Whereas a conference pitch has no edits and is all real time, the Dragon’s Den pitch gets edited down, polished and refined to fit what the TV producers would like to showcase to their viewers.”
✏️ Q: What unique outcome has come from doing the pitch?
☕️ A: “The biggest value add has been the credibility and FOMO it’s given for pitching investors. It’s also has created a powerful ripple effect across our staff and customer community. When the episode is live on October 19th, we’ll be able to hyperlink it and share evidence of our pitch and which of the dragons invested.
Another huge win for us, in preparation for the traffic increase we’ll expect with the episode airing, has been the improvements we’ve made to our email flow and drip sequencing so that as new members sign up we have a strongerretention strategy to keep them engaged.
✏️ Q: Any tips for brand building on TikTok?
☕️ A: “We’d recommend having 1 team member who knows the customer inside and out to can own the entire content creation process from start to finish.
We have someone named Jaimie (featured here) who’s been super helpful keeping our team on top of trends. So much so that our community has come to love her. Collaborations with people like Azia, who’s been a huge driver of our content on Tik Tok, has also been a 10x’er for us.”
✏️ Q: If others want to pitch on Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank or another big show for publicity a) is it worth it and b) what can they do to increase their chances?
☕️ A: “We would definitely recommend the process. If you want a good shot at landing a pitch, you should be proactive about getting your reps in. Our team’s probably pitched the Marlow story 200+ times at different conferences, demo days and fundraisers so when we had the opportunity, we were ready.
We’ve found building an audience on Tik Tok, Instagram and LinkedIn has been quite valuable to catching the TV producer’s attention and showing how well we know our customers.
Lastly, we wanted to make the most of the brand-building journey with our startup regardless of the ups or downs along the way. So I think setting that intention from the start has been a powerful rock for our team to come back.
✏️ Q: Can you share a bit more about the Oct 19th episode drop?
☕️ A: “We’re excited to share there is a good result, but we can’t say anything until it’s dropped. We hope our story can be an encouragement to all the founders out there that you never know where your big idea can go.”
So there you have it folks.
Tune in Oct 19 at 8pm ET to see if Marlow got the angel investing deal they dreamed of. If you’re biting your nails already, here’s a sneak peek of their episode.
Last demo day we had a great question from our friend Bruno below.
If you’re asking the same question, it’s called Kernal Dealroom. You can sign up to use it here.
💡Startup Ideas of the Week
📌 One Last Thing
On another note, we are putting together an investor newsletter to showcase our top startup ideas on the platform that are raising funding.
If you’d like to sign up for that, please email [email protected] and you’ll be on the list to receive our first email.
🍷 Swipes of the Week
Imagine if you could rate your seat buddy after your flight… ✈️
Truth bomb from Julie 👏
Not the license plate founders want, but the license plate founders NEED 🔥
💚 The Kernal Fam
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Canadian readers 🇨🇦