Fundraising Success Through Authentic Storytelling: Ruby Love CEO & Founder Crystal Etienne Describes Her Journey

Following the discharge of our contemporary record “A Decade in Evaluation: Investment to the Feminine Founders” Crunchbase is highlighting feminine founders who’re paving the best way for the following technology of glass-ceiling-smashers. The “Feminine Founder Sequence” is produced from tales, Q&As and thought-leadership items from feminine founders who overcame the percentages, raised investment and are actually main a success corporations.


Crystal Etienne is a mother (of two stunning youngsters), spouse and multitasking businesswoman who, like such a lot of people, juggles 50 issues in one day. She’s additionally a girl who will get her duration as soon as a month and offers with occasional incontinence. In August 2019, after serving to her daughter navigate the united statesand downs of “Aunt Drift,” “the purple wave” or no matter euphemism youngsters are calling classes at the moment, Crystal made up our minds sufficient was once sufficient.

She effectively introduced PantyProp on Dec. 5, 2019, bootstrapping her strategy to $10 million in fewer than three years. Etienne, who has just lately secured a sequence A investment of $15 million from The Craftory, rebranded her corporate as Ruby Love, relaunching on June 11, 2019. “Ruby” denotes menstruation, a undying gem that symbolizes well being and enlargement, whilst “Love” represents the dedication to proceed to ship the very best degree of care. In combination, Ruby Love brings to existence its supportive, unifying message that classes will have to by no means prevent girls from doing, being and going.

Crystal is an excellent chief who can indisputably be labeled as a glass-ceiling-smasher, making an allowance for she raised the fourth greatest spherical of investment in historical past for an organization based via a black lady. 

We figured Crystal would have some nice recommendation to proportion, and requested her a couple of questions on her adventure, elevating investment, and the affect of COVID-19 on her trade:

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted what you are promoting and what recommendation do you may have for different founders navigating those unsure occasions?

A: A couple of weeks again when the sector was once actually close down from the pandemic, we right away refocused our trade on what issues maximum and knew that we might nonetheless want to have the option to be there for our shoppers and stay our staff protected and wholesome. Our workforce regrouped right away to be delicate to the present occasions. My best possible recommendation to any founder is to focal point handiest on what’s essential nowadays – your shoppers’ wishes, your workforce’s well being, and vital spend. 

Q: How have you ever adjusted to the present financial local weather and ready your corporate for the long run? 

A: We promote duration merchandise to assist get rid of the concern and building up the boldness to do anything else when you are menstruating. Our merchandise are maximum essential in those occasions. It is helping to get rid of one extra downside to fret about whilst this pandemic occurs. The corporate has all the time operated on a lean trade fashion and product construction for our true buyer base. We’re satisfied in an effort to proceed to take action approaching.

Q: Stroll us thru your enjoy with the investment procedure. When did you get started making plans? What demanding situations did you face? How did you conquer the ones demanding situations?

A: For me, elevating finances was once unplanned. Then again, being a black lady within the tech trade is a problem in itself. I had to conquer many stumbling blocks, however after I did, elevating investment turned into my largest energy.

In 2019, after I first reached $1 million in earnings, I assumed it was once sufficient to lift finances from VCs. I temporarily realized it wasn’t, so I quickly refocused my time. I spotted that point spent specializing in the trade, studying a real target market, making plans a long-term technique and ignoring the noise would put the trade in a greater place for future years.

Q: What questions have been you requested via buyers within the procedure?

A: In my enjoy, VCs normally ask just about the similar issues: What’s the finish objective for the corporate? What are your metrics? The place/who’s your marketplace? Even though the questions are the similar, they’re typically requested differently.

Q: What was once the most efficient piece of recommendation you were given while you have been within the means of pitching?

A: The most efficient piece of recommendation I ever gained was once from most sensible angel investor Jason Calacanis. Inside of two seconds of pitching him he instructed me to get to the purpose–and I did simply that. He was once completely proper. To nowadays, I give that recommendation to many of us I mentor or those that inquire from me for recommendation. It’s the most efficient recommendation you’ll be able to give somebody, since you in reality handiest have 15 seconds to be a focus for your target market when pitching.

Q: How did you’re feeling right through the pitch procedure?

A: I completely dread pitching. I feel it’s such an ungainly second for any, or maximum, founders. It wasn’t till I finished taking a look at it as pitching and began taking a look at it as me telling the tale of this nice corporate and opportune marketplace that I began to really feel utterly relaxed. I do know Ruby Love is, and can be, a  good fortune with none hesitation, so speaking about it comes simply for me. In reality,I now not name it a pitch, I name it a good fortune tale unwritten.

Q: The place did you opt for sources?

A: I had completely no sources or community, so I scoured Google, Quora and Energetic Angels on-line to respond to questions which I had no one to actually resolution; I created my very own web community in some way. I might seek the similar factor in numerous techniques and all the time ended up with higher effects than the ultimate time. I might then apply up via achieving out personally. I’ve handiest as soon as requested for an creation to an investor. I discovered doing the analysis and legwork myself all the time labored higher and felt extra original. This authenticity is what impressed other folks to provide me alternatives.

Q: Did you do mock pitching/pitch practices?

A: By no means. I do the whole thing via intestine and within the second–it’s actual and original to center.

Q: How did you construction your presentation? Was once your pitch a tale or extra fact-based?

A: Each. By the point I began assembly VCs, telling the tale was once grounded in info. I used to be ready to visually display actual corporate metrics of 400 % enlargement 12 months over 12 months, true marketplace data and a transparent figuring out of our buyer base.

Q: As a feminine founder, did you’re feeling your pitch procedure differed from that of a person? 

A: I realized early on to not make it any other. I researched and located that demonstrating the lifetime price of the corporate and its merchandise–together with plain metrics–painted the massive image, so there was once little need to check out to influence. VCs both wish to come alongside and make cash after all, or they select to choose some other trade.

Q: Consistent with knowledge from the decade, girls, on reasonable, raised 13 % lower than male founders. Does that marvel you? 

A: Girls, particularly black girls, have no longer been given the chance to sign up for “the community” like maximum white, male founders. Maximum don’t even know the place to show. 

Q: What wishes to modify to assist girls shut this hole?

A: I feel tech leaders will have to call for that girls are equipped the similar alternatives, invitations and community let-ins. As soon as we have now the similar alternatives and connections, girls would be the pressure and majority. Girls are herbal leaders, so via opening the doorways and alluring us in, we can shut the space. Most significantly, this will have to be completed in reality or those efforts received’t subject. 

Q: What recommendation would you give to girls coming into the pitch procedure?

A: Don’t concern in regards to the now, focal point at the long term. Should you do not need an finish objective, fundraising might not be for you. At all times be considering forward so telling your tale is more uncomplicated.

Q: Anything you’d love to proportion?

A: I simply need each lady to understand that converting your mindset isn’t a fail, it’s part of the method for good fortune.

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