Showing the power of startup women’s health brands, P&G buys This is L
The P&G acquisition of This is L., a startup retailer of period products and prophylactics, shows just how profitable investing in women’s healthcare brands and products can be.
A person with knowledge of the investment put the price tag at roughly $100 million — a healthy outcome for investors and company founder Talia Frenkel. But just as important as the financial outcome is the deal’s implications for other mission-driven companies.
This is L. launched from Y Combinator in August 2015 with a service distributing condoms in New York and San Francisco and steadily expanded into feminine hygiene products.
Frenkel, a former photojournalist who worked for the United Nations and Red Cross, started the company in 2013 — roughly three years after an assignment in Africa revealed the toll that HIV/AIDs was taking on women and girls on the continent.
“I didn’t realize the No. 1 killer of women was completely preventable and I think that really inspired me to action,” Frenkel told TechCrunch at the time of the company’s launch.
Now the company has distributed roughly 250 million products to customers around the world.
“Our strong growth has enabled us to stand in solidarity with women in more than 20 countries,” said Frenkel in a statement following the acquisition. “Our support has ranged from partnering with organizations to send period products to Native communities in South Dakota, to supplying pad-making machines to a women-led business in Tamil Nadu. Pairing our purpose with P&G’s expertise, scale and resources provides an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a more equitable world.”
The company is available in more than 5,000 stores across the U.S. and is working with women entrepreneurs in countries from Uganda to India and beyond.
“This acquisition is a perfect complement to our Always and Tampax portfolio, with its commitment to a shared mission to advocate for girls’ confidence and serve more women,” said Jennifer Davis, president, P&G Global Feminine Care. “We feel this is a strong union and together we can be a greater force for good.”
For investors with knowledge of the company, the P&G acquisition is a harbinger of things to come. The combination of a non-technical, female founder operating in the consumer packaged goods market with a mission-driven company was an anomaly in the Silicon Valley of four years ago, but Frenkel’s success shows what kind of opportunities exist in the market.
“With this acquisition investors need to update their patterns,” said one investor with knowledge of the company.