Bootcamp and FastPath Member
Company Website: www.MiraiClinical.com
Koko Hayashi is the founder of Mirai Clinical, which makes deodorizing products for seniors concerned with body odor associated with aging. We caught up with her recently to find out how her business has been going since she went through the Founders First accelerator program.
We chatted with Koko to get an update on her success and her thoughts on the Founders First experience.
What inspired you to found Mirai Clinical?
Officially, the company was formed in 2014. But I started selling Japanese soap before Mirai Clinical was even born. I was living with my grandmother when I was much younger. I was very close to her but when my friends visited the house they made fun of the body odor associated with aging, which I later found out is called nonenal [a chemical compound that people develop as they age].
But at that time there was no real science or anything, so there was no solution. But in Japan, years later, they discovered that persimmon extract is really effective in eliminating the nonenal body odor.
So, because of my childhood experience I wanted to do something about that. At that time in Japan, there was a huge market for nonenal. There were lots of body soaps, body wash, shampoos, and lots of things all with persimmon.
And then, when I looked at the other countries there was no product in the U.S., and my mentor urged me to start a business. So that’s how I started Mirai Clinical.
How has Founders First impacted you as a founder and your business’ growth?
Yeah, I think it’s really cool to be around entrepreneurial friends. Otherwise you’re alone. Especially as a foreigner. I’ve been in this country five years, so I didn’t have any in-person friends in San Diego. You get to meet like-minded people and ask questions of mentors easily. To me it’s super important to be in this kind of community.
What was the most important lesson learned from being with Founders?
We implemented the practical advice we got from those programs, and that is very, very helpful.
The mentors have an outside, objective view. I’m inside the company, so it’s hard for me to think outside of the box, but those mentors have an objective opinion.
Like, for example, from the previous bootcamp I participated in, they told me that if you have a subscription model, your company will be valued at a much higher rate—even if it’s the same company, a company “A” and a company “B” that both have $1 million in sales, if company “B” has 50% in subscription sales, it will be valued higher.
I didn’t know anything about that, so we started promoting a subscription model with the advice we got.
We also got marketing ideas, like how to move customers from Amazon to Shopify on our own site because the cost of sales there are cheaper. Every time I participate in this kind of program, I learn practical advice, which is really important.
How did your business have to pivot during the covid? Did you see any change?
Not so much. We have been online from the beginning.
I tried going to Expo and tried to pitch some buyers like Whole Foods. I did a lot of that before covid, but not anymore. It didn’t work because they viewed the senior market as too small. We’ve been online from the beginning, and we are still online.
And we try to find some B2B sales like nursing home sales—that was another piece of advice we got from the program. But because we are online we didn’t have a big pivot.
Some staff got sick, so shipping was crazy. But we managed. We sold body wipes or soap, which is necessary for hospitals or regular people too, so we were very busy last year.
What advice would you have for the next up and coming entrepreneurs out there?
I think it’s good to be around entrepreneurial communities like Founders First. Otherwise you feel alone, and you get depressed. So, try to participate in some events online or even in person if you can.
It’s super important to be in the community. Don’t try to do the business by yourself, because that’s impossible.
Even if you have some colleagues or co-founders, they are inside people so it’s always good to communicate with outside people. They give you good advice and maybe you give them good advice, too, so you learn from each other.