An interview with our Founder, Suzie Welsh, and written by English Taylor. English is a freelance writer and contributing author to the BINTO Blog.
Beyond the About page on BINTO’s website, you may be curious to learn more about the heart and soul behind the brand. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to pitch to investors and raise money as a female founder? How does Suzie balance being a wife and a CEO?
I had the unique opportunity to chat with Suzie about everything from wedding planning to the role mentorship has played in her career. It was refreshing to hear more about this inspiring woman’s personal life, not just periods and probiotics. (But of course, we couldn’t help but touch on these topics, too.)
Tell me about BINTO’s beginning. How did the concept and company evolve?
Going into nursing school, I always knew that I wanted to veer more in the direction of the business side of healthcare. When I was working as an IVF and fertility nurse, my patients would ask me about drinking smoothies with exotic ingredients or the benefits of royal jelly. Really, they were reading a lot of junk. But who hasn’t stood in front of the supplement or feminine care aisle totally confused? I realized I could make a difference by helping women find the right products, regardless of their reproductive lifecycle stage.
Tell me about fundraising. What was the process like for you?
My program at the University of Pennsylvania ended in a Shark Tank-like experience. The idea for BINTO did well and we got our first angel investor from this pitch. I also invested my own money, which was a big step for me. With the help of angel investors and my own money, we raised $100K. I would describe this stage as fun and exciting.
But I’m now working on raising another round, which has been a completely different experience. BINTO has numbers, users, and a product to talk about with investors. I’m also a young woman toting a women’s health company to old men—it’s incredibly challenging. You get chewed up and spit out, but you also have those who believe in you and see the demand and opportunity. I’ve developed a thick skin, grit, and confidence.
2017 was marked by incidents of sexual harassment in various industries, including venture capital. What has your experience been like as a female founder?
I’ve never been put in an awkward situation—thank goodness. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve just been fortunate. However, I question whether or not to wear my wedding ring to pitches. Will they think I’m just waiting around until I have kids? Some investors think I don’t “get it” because I’m a nurse. So, while I’ve never experienced sexual harassment, I have experienced not being taken seriously.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a founder?
Being an entrepreneur is incredibly isolating. Even my husband can’t relate to this. He didn’t choose the path of entrepreneurship, but we chose each other. I try to surround myself with a network of other founders to combat the loneliness.
Also, the pit in my stomach on a Sunday night before the work week has grown in size. Now, all the pressure is on me. But like Billie Jean King said, “Pressure is a privilege.” It’s terrifying but it’s also one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur.
And the biggest highlight?
Reading customer reviews—hands down. One woman got pregnant after using BINTO products and was about to pay $30K for IVF. Another customer who had suffered from anorexia regained her period after using BINTO. She said we gave her back her femininity. These stories remind me of why we started BINTO. We’re improving health outcomes for women.
Are there any misconceptions about being a founder? What are they?
Some people think that because it’s my company, the company’s money is my money. But I’m not Mark Zuckerberg! I’ve never paid myself and work a second job teaching nursing for Villanova University.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given while starting BINTO?
My good friend and fellow female founder, Kim Ramirez, told me that even though you’re desperate for funding, you have to remember that you’re entering a contract with someone. She compared it to building a team. Finding investors is like finding someone to be on first base or in the outfield. You need to know who you want, and need, on your team. Who is the right person to help you build and scale the company?
One of BINTO’s advisory board members also told me to stay true to myself and not to lose sight of who I am, my morals, and my values. I want to be a transparent leader and BINTO will always be a transparent company.
You got married this past year. How do you achieve work life balance as an entrepreneur?
Ha! It takes a lot of work. I never understood what people meant when they said relationships take a lot of work until I started BINTO. When I founded BINTO, we also moved in together, bought a house, and got married. Wedding planning, merging two families, and running a company resulted in a few meltdowns,
I would advise someone to close their laptop, step away from the phone, and actually check in with your partner, family, and friends. This will only improve your ability as a founder. Your company depends on you being healthy, so don’t be afraid to take “me time” each day.
Do you use BINTO products? What are your favorites?
Of course! I’ve never had a regular menstrual cycle, which is part of the reason why I’m passionate about women’s health. My BINTO supplement regimen changed my life. Like clockwork, I get my period every 30 days. I also suffer from celiac disease. The probiotics and digestive enzymes help me with digestion and uncomfortable side effects like bloating.
What motivates you to wake up each morning and go to work?
As an entrepreneur, you can’t wake up every morning and think to yourself, “This is fun, but I’ve got plan B in the bag in case this doesn’t work out.” That’s setting yourself up to fail. You have to wake up every day, dream big, and live in the present moment. This is my plan A-Z.
After hanging up the phone with Suzie, I felt even more connected to BINTO. It’s easy to forget that there’s a person behind these personalized products. Getting to know her better makes me more excited to receive my monthly box. Though I’ll be opening it by myself, alone in my mailroom or kitchen, I have a hunch that I’ll feel she and her team of experts are right there beside me.