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HBS Business Plan Finalists – YouTea!

1. YOUR PITCH.
YouTea! delivers an over-the-counter solution to a prevalent women’s health problem. YouTea! is the first functional beverage powder specifically designed for women’s health. We have a specific condition in mind to gain initial adoption but will position YouTea! as a general women’s health product as we grow our business. We have developed a prototype; YouTea! has fewer than 10 calories per serving and tastes great!

2. IDEA: WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BUSINESS PLAN?
Alex: Tina and I took Innovating in Healthcare, and we learned about the significant regulatory and reimbursement barriers that the healthcare entrepreneur faces. Then I had a case in Entrepreneurial Finance about a guy who developed a low-cost spinning toothbrush and sold his company for $400m+. I thought that the secret to getting easy wins as a healthcare entrepreneur must lie in consumer products. I approached some of my friends in my healthcare courses to discuss consumer healthcare business ideas with a focus on women’s health, because that seemed to be an under-served market.

Tina: When Alex approached me wanting to work on a consumer product, I immediately had an idea. As an MD/MBA student, my peers constantly seek my advice for a variety of medical issues. One women’s health issue resonated as a recurring problem. And an over the-counter-solution is evident, yet no one had developed it yet.

3. TARGET MARKET: WHO ARE YOU TARGETING? WHY?
YouTea! will benefit all women, we will just have to position and promote our product differently for each target demographic group. Young women (18-44) face a unique set of health challenges, as do post-menopausal women (45-64) and seniors (65+). YouTea! actually addresses many of the health problems for each of these segments. We will therefore develop different promotion and distribution strategies for each segment – more online marketing and distribution for the younger demographic, more trade promotions and print advertising for the older segment.

4. CHALLENGES: WHAT DO YOU FORESEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OR IMPEDIMENT IN REACHING COMMERCIAL VIABILITY/SUCCESS?
The strength of YouTea!’s strategy, low barriers to entry, is also its weakness: namely, a well-funded competitor could emerge. However, a competitor’s marketing campaign may help generate consumer demand for our product. Additionally, gaining shelf space can be a challenge in retail channels; being a beverage powder, like Emergen-C, will help in obtaining shelf space. To acquire customers in the retail channel, we will employ experienced distributors and use trade promotions to publicize our product and its health benefits

5. FUNDING: IF YOUR TEAM WERE TO RECEIVE $100,000 IN FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT? WHAT IS THE MOST CRITICAL INVESTMENT YOU NEED TO MAKE IN ORDER TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
In order of priority:

1. Product Development: We have a good prototype. We need to refine our flavors and packaging.

2. Marketing: Market research to refine our product and our branding. Early promotion to generate clinician and consumer awareness for YouTea!

3. Legal: We have done a good amount of prior art research, but we do need professional counsel to finalize our IP protection.

6. TEAM:
It was really a series of no-brainers. We needed an advisor and mentor, and who better than Professor Higgins? Having him on our team is like having Michael Jordan coach a youth basketball team. We realized that we needed someone with consumer products marketing experience, and anyone that knows Nimmi knows that she’s a CPG guru. We went to MIT to find someone to help with product development, and had a good amount of interest. Ashkan stood out from the crowd as he had significant product development experience in the pharmaceutical industry (including several patents) and business acumen as an MIT Sloanie.

April 27, 2009
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