Naava from The Fertility Support Company asked me to chat so that we can get the word out about Hoopsy tests to her audience of acupuncturists, you can either watch the video above or read the transcription below 🙂
NAAVA: Good morning, everyone. We have an extra session this month. We’re talking to Lara Solomon. Lara and I connected when she sent me her product. I hadn’t heard of it before and it’s now sitting in my treatment room and I’ve used it, I want to just tell you a little bit about it.
This is my favourite pregnancy test. I love it because it’s biodegradable and it’s 98% accurate five days before, so it’s definitely a rival to Clearblue, which is what everybody usually uses. There are so many things to like about it. There’s a little tube that they have some guidance as to ways you can reuse the tube itself.
It’s really great to have it in the clinic because often clients come just before their period and I want to make sure that they’re not pregnant before I give herbs or do a treatment. So I have them go off into my bathroom and do a pregnancy test and it’s really been important to me in as many areas of my life as I can to reduce the plastic.
So this was a real godsend and it came also with a really gorgeous business card, which was embedded with seeds, which is now in my garden feeding the bees. So I asked Lara to come and talk to us and just tell us a little bit about how this came to be, a little bit about the product.
And this is going to go out to the growth partnership too, because I want as many people as possible to be able to switch to something like this from the stuff that’s available over the counter. I think this is what should be in Boots too. So hopefully, Lara, you will tell us how you’re going to get that into all the mainstream products too.
Lara’s happy to take questions as you go and we’ll be here for just under half an hour. And without further ado, I hand over to Lara Solomon.
LARA: Good morning, everyone. So lovely to be here. Well, I thought I’d start by telling you a little bit about how I got to hoopsy and then I can tell you a bit about the product and what the plans are going forward.
So I did IVF in 2021 to try and get pregnant with donor embryos and I didn’t really know much about pregnancy before that or trying to conceive. And I joined a lot of Facebook groups and I was really surprised to see just how many pregnancy tests women were using.
And I now know that on average, people use three tests every time they check, because obviously, the first one did it work, check it with the second one, and then just going again to be triply sure. Obviously, if you’re going through IVF, you’re going to use a lot more because you’ve got the ten day wait, but most people crack before ten days and start testing early and then you’ve got a lot of people that worry about being miscarrying.
So they will test every single day up until week twelve. Just even though they’ve had ultrasounds and blood tests they’re just really worried about this. So I kept seeing all these pictures of about ten different pregnancy tests and they were all plastic and I just thought this is crazy, why isn’t there a sustainable option?
And most women like to use the midstream ones and there wasn’t a sustainable option so I just thought. I’m going to have to do something about it. So, first of all, I looked into it a bit more.
I looked at home based testing kits, and about 11 million kilos of plastic goes into landfill every year from testing kits in the UK. There are twelve and a half million pregnancy tests sold. So there’s about 120,000 kilos of plastic goes into landfill each year in the UK.
So lots of people say, well, you’re not really doing anything massive, but actually it’s one of those everything adds up and it becomes a huge problem. And the other thing with the plastic kits, is that they take 30 years to break down in landfill.
And when I tell people that have children that are ten, did you know your pregnancy tests are still around? They’re a bit like, really,
it’s kind of crazy. And they really don’t need to be plastic. So inside those plastic cases, there’s a tiny little strip of paper, which is the same as the one you do when you’re doing the dip test. So all I did was make the strip bigger. So this is our product, so this is it in real life.
So it’s basically just a cardboard strip. We’ve got a tiny piece of plastic here, but it’s like a layer of nail polish, so it’s really small,
it’s 99% paper, so it’s really easy to write on. You probably know lots of people like to record, like, I did this one at ten and I did this one at six, and the dates, and so they can see how their line progression is going.
And the other nice thing about it is that because it’s paper, you can actually cut it in half and put half in paper recycling if you want to. The bit you wee on has to go in the bin because body fluids aren’t allowed to go in the recycling. But it’s just a lot more sustainable option than what’s currently out there.
It does come in a plastic pouch, which obviously is not ideal. It is soft plastic, so you can recycle that as well. But at the moment, we need to keep moisture out of the pack because otherwise, it doesn’t work. And that would be a bit of a problem if we sold a test that didn’t work.
So we’re still looking for an alternative that can do that for us.
At the moment, we’re selling in the UK through various pharmacy stores, online and physical stores, as well as on our own website. We’ve also been featured in the media over 70 times since we launched within places like Women’s Health, Metro, Daily Express, Marie Claire. So it’s starting to get seen by people, but the biggest concern that I normally find people have is that they want to know, will it work?
And we have the same level of accuracy as any other pregnancy test on the market, it’s over 99% accurate, on the day your period is due, and if you take it earlier, the accuracy drops a little bit and that’s the same with every single test that’s out there.
It was so fabulous to be asked to speak to you guys today because it’s just letting people know that just because it doesn’t have the plastic doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. There is no reason why we need to have plastic because plastic is perceived to be clean and hygienic, but actually it’s really not needed, especially in something that’s used for just five minutes.
So at the moment, we’re not in any big supermarkets or like Boots or anything, we’re in Superdrug online, but we are in conversations with Boots and Holland and Barrett.
The thing is that these things take a while, like Sainsbury’s we’re talking to them now and this would be to go in March next year, everything takes quite a long time, but it’s looking really positive. It’s just one of those things that we just have to keep plugging away and keep educating people on and the people that do use the product absolutely love it.
So it’s just a case of just getting it out there and getting more people seeing it.
I know your presenters probably normally have a lot of information, and a lot of technical data, which we don’t. I do want to tell you about our affiliate program, if you do have clients that you send out newsletters to, we do offer a 20% commission on our affiliate program and that’s on all orders online through our website. Also, I’m more than happy to send you a pack to try and some of the seeded cards.
Clients can plant the cards we send you and they give clients a 10% discount. It’s just another reason for them to pick it up. It’s really just a case of it will be great to have people who enjoy the product and are passionate about it, who will be happy to share it with other people and help us get the message across.
Obviously, with Hoopsy I’m trying to build a business, but at the same time, I’m really passionate about keeping plastic out of landfill and changing people’s behaviours and habits.
NAAVA: Thank you so much. Can I pepper you with questions now? Where does the name come from?
LARA: Hoop is a Dutch word meaning hope, and when you’re taking a test, I always think you’re hoping it’s one thing or another and then added the S to the hoop to make hoops, because I feel like going through your fertility journey is like jumping through hoops and then the Y just rounded it off.
NAAVA: Love it. Funnily enough, my mom is Dutch and I was talking to her speculating about whether that was something to do with it.
LARA: It was very hard to find a name and then the website and the socials and everything.
NAAVA: I have some experience with trying to trademark things and I know that if you can find something that’s actually quite distinct from a descriptor and distinct from the product right, the better it is in terms of having something available and able to be trademarked and used. So I think that’s such a catchy name.
Will you tell us a little bit about the journey that you went on? Because I do love a female entrepreneur. Will you tell us a little bit about behind the scenes, what it was like to create this, how you went about finding the technology and learning what you had to do, and what your background is.
LARA: Sure. So my background is in business. I’ve had various different businesses. I’m not a chemist, I’m not medical, so it’s been quite a steep learning curve from that point of view. I always thought pregnancy tests were pretty simple, apparently not. They seem simple because they’ve been used for so long, but actually, the lateral flow technology is actually quite complicated and quite hard to do.
Like, if you were starting again from scratch, it wouldn’t be something you could knock up in a day. It would take months of research to get it. So I started looking into it about November 2021, and I started by trying to find a manufacturer and I knew what I wanted in terms of the size of the test.
And I knew I wanted as little plastic as possible. But I just went to about 100 different manufacturers across the world and said, this is what I want, can you help me make it? And only one of them came back to me and said, yes. Wow. So luckily, they have been amazing.
And because the test is bigger in size than the strip test, they had to do some work to make sure that it worked. Like, you need more urine on this one than you do on the strip test, just because the pad is bigger and therefore it’s got further to go.
They had to do some testing around that. But, yeah, they’ve been amazing. So once we got the first test that came back, they sent it to me. I did the test and the lines weren’t very clear and it was really hard to see and also it was really soggy I always thought with paper, people have this perception that you we on it and you’re just left holding a bit then there’s nothing left.
So that was the feedback, they went back and refined it. The second product they sent to me was great. And that’s the one we end up going with as well.
NAAVA: Have you found your route to market? How have you built the marketing and the outreach for this product to the point where we have all these names and all these people talking about it?
LARA: Well, it’s lots of different things. It’s a hard one. Harder than I expected, I have to say, because when people are trying to conceive, they don’t normally tell other people. They tell professionals and their partner if they’ve got a partner, but they don’t normally tell anyone else. So it’s not like you can go to groups and things.
It’s been a case of trying different things. So we’ve done lots of social media stuff, I’ve tried sharing my story, I do a lot of pitching of the business, we did a lot of PR and that’s how we got so much media. I had a PR agency I worked with and it really captured people’s imaginations because there is nothing else like it out there. So we were lucky in that respect that we’re first to market.
One of the big things I find when I chat to people, they’re like, oh, my God, this is so obvious. Why hasn’t it been done? Oh right, you need to talk to this person, you need to do this, you need to do that and so people I meet introduce me to more people so it’s kind of just it goes from that one person which is absolutely fabulous.
NAAVA: There’s nothing so powerful as word of mouth, is there?
LARA: No, it works so well.
NAAVA: That’s why I’m going to put this in my wider community too because we have 550 people who are in the growth partnership, are all fertility acupuncturists or interested in treating fertility and I think that our community has direct access to the exact consumers who your product should be accessing.
I operate a slightly different system in my clinic in the sense that I have made a policy decision that I don’t take any kind of kickback for anything. Because I want my clients to know that if I’m recommending something because it’s right for them.
Do you have the ability for that 20% commission to be passed directly to the consumer? If the party wishes?
LARA: Yeah, totally. I would just need to set you up with a coupon code so I would set one up specifically for you and then if there was someone or we could do a group one but if it’s specifically for you then you can kind of see how many people have used it and stuff but yeah, that’s totally fine.
It doesn’t bother me how we do it really. For me it’s about getting people to see the product, use the product and change their habits.
NAAVA: Amazing. So in that case what I’ll do is I’ll just work with you via email after this is finished, and maybe we’ll get a group code so everybody can we’ll put that up when the video goes up with everybody and they’re able to access it straight away?
LARA: Yeah, definitely. No more than happy to do that. It. Yeah. And if people do want to get some tests to try, then more than happy to do that as well because I know people feel a bit nervous.
NAAVA: If you shoot me the information I need to get in contact with you to get that, that would be great.
It’s really been lovely to talk to you and lovely to get this message and this product out there. So I hope that when this goes out to everybody, we will have an influx of lots of people switching their clients to this beautiful product and steering away from the plastic.
LARA: That would be amazing. I would absolutely love that. And if anyone’s watching this and has any other ideas about anything that they can do or if they’re going to an event and they want to give out free samples or anything like that, then more than happy to chat. So, yeah, it will be great to and great to get any feedback as well from anyone that’s clients have them, because that’s always really helpful, good or bad.
NAAVA: Amazing. Thank you so much. So I’ll be in touch with you behind the scenes and we’ll get all the contact stuff sorted and thank you. Really appreciate your time. Lovely.
LARA: Thank you for having me and lovely to meet you.
You can reach Naava at The Fertility Support Company.