How Tushy leveraged marketing capital to become number one
March 23, 2022
Industry disruptor and serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal doesn’t mince words. She started Tushy because she wanted to solve an age-old problem that most of us don’t like to talk about: cleaning our butts after we poop. Clearco chatted with Miki on what she believes is the most important part of being a Founder, and about how her company is saving 15 million trees’ worth of toilet paper one flush at a time.
What problem is Tushy solving?
MA: Tushy is a modern bidet that washes your butt after you poop. We’re all deeply indoctrinated to believe dry toilet paper is the best implement to clean the dirtiest part of our body. But toilet paper doesn’t properly clean you! Imagine if you jumped in your shower, didn’t turn the water on, and just used dry toilet paper to wipe down your dirtiest bits. It doesn’t make any sense! Water cleans everything in our lives…why not our butts?
What kind of Founder do you want people to remember you as?
MA: Someone who solves problems in creative ways. Someone who is disrupting the industry with a best-in-class product that solves a real-world problem. I love questioning the status quo and feel a great sense of pride in building companies that tackle these kinds of taboo issues. We live in a world that’s deeply indoctrinated by old, conditioned beliefs—I want to change that.
What assumptions do you think people make about you?
MA: Most people expect female Founders to be sweet and nice all the time. When we say, “this needs to get done” or “you’re not meeting goals or KPIs”—then all of a sudden we’re told we’re acting unpleasant. I think there’s a whiplash you experience as a female leader where you have to be nice but firm, and if you’re too firm then you’re not nice. It’s a tough line to toe, and men don’t have to pick between one or the other. There isn’t that expectation.
Can you give an example of a time where you personally experienced gender bias while seeking funding?
MA: When I sold my first company and went to raise money for my second, lots of investors told me I’d just gotten lucky. As if I hadn’t earned it. It’s changing, but progress takes time. My take on the situation is this: I could complain about how the world is or I could do something with my money to change it. That’s why I’ve invested in over 15 female-led companies.
What is the most ridiculous thing you've encountered in your pursuit of fundraising?
MA: In many ways it’s still an old boys’ club. While pitching my business, I’ve had investors pat me on the head or squeeze my cheek. I’ve burst into tears before; some of the things I’ve been told have been very hurtful. And part of me knows that it most likely wasn’t said to be hurtful, but at the same time, you would never say that kind of thing to a man. I think there’s this mentality where people are like, “I’m treating you like this because this is how I should treat a woman”. When really I just want to be treated like everyone else.
When you were fundraising for Tushy, did you face any challenges getting marketing capital?
MA: We’re unique in that we’ve been growing our business using our profits, which is pretty hard to find these days. But it also means we didn’t have a ton of relationships with funders. Our goal is to become the largest bidet company in America, and we know the only way to do that is to put some gasoline on the fire we’ve built. And that’s where getting funding came in.
It’s been a humbling journey for us—building relationships with these partners. Clearco is great because it wasn’t about who you knew; we were able to secure funding solely based on our business metrics and performance. Tushy grossed over $40M in revenue last year, and we were able to achieve this through the marketing capital and inventory funding we got from Clearco.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned from being a Founder?
MA: Hire slow, fire fast. Focus on the team, because in the end, culture beats strategy every time. I learned that the hard way. It’s all about hiring people who are a culture fit. At Tushy we focus on hiring team players, people who are like Swiss Army knives!
What do you think are three traits every Founder needs to be successful?
MA: Being nimble, being able to solve problems under pressure, and most importantly, constantly looking to self-disrupt. Never get comfortable. Continue to disrupt your own business by challenging what you believe over and over again. Make it better and different and better again and different again. Always be iterating. Actually one of my favourite sayings is ‘iteration is perfection’. It’s not about being perfect, but it’s about the iterative process. Entrepreneurship is a constant exercise in iteration.
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