This inspiring story is of a rising startup called The Balm Box started by Liz Benditt. The Balm Box is disrupting the cancer gift market by connecting these two groups: Well-meaning adults purchasing gifts, with recipients who need functional help. Providing cancer patients with functional items BEFORE they start their treatments is a phenomenal, thoughtful, gift. Here is the story of The Balm Box in Liz’s own words.
Introduce us to the idea of The Balm Box
Balm Box features self-care and gift boxes for patients undergoing medical treatments. The first line is focused on Breast Cancer surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, with future releases in development. Curated for cancer patients, by a cancer patient, Balm Boxes aim to deliver functional support products that help and heal.
What’s your strategy story? What led you to start The Balm Box?
I like to think of myself as a medical miracle. I survived four cancers over 8 years:
2009: Melanoma Skin Cancer
2010: Thyroid Cancer
2015: Basal Cell Skin Cancer
2017: Breast Cancer
If you google “get well soon cancer gift” you’ll find countless pink-ribboned shirts and tote bags, chocolate, and flowers. American adults spend thousands of dollars a year on gifting; according to primary market research conducted by Balm Box, about one-third of adults 18+ have purchased a gift for a cancer patient in the past, spending on average $50-$80.
People undergoing cancer treatments need myriad functional items – and rarely do they realize they need those items, until they need them IMMEDIATELY.
I’ve been contemplating various forms of Balm Box since 2017. After developing a business plan and gaining seed funding to support the hard costs associated with the startup expenses, I made the (oh so terrifying!) decision to keep my part-time teaching position at the University of Kansas School of Business, but leave my full-time job as a marketing executive and focus on Balm Box full time in Spring 2020. Who could have known that would coincide with a global pandemic?!
What marketing, operation strategies are you adopting at The Balm Box?
To control costs and lean into my own area of expertise, I focused the first line of self care and gift boxes on BREAST CANCER treatment symptoms for a few reasons:
1: Breast Cancer is the #1 most prevalent cancer in America. One out of every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
2: It’s a competitive advantage against the few generic “cancer gift boxes” on the market. While most will include some sort of lotion, lip balm, and ice pack, Balm Boxes feature items SPECIFIC to breast cancer like aluminum-free deodorant, arm pillows, and seat belt protectors.
3: The niche focus cuts down my initial product start-up expenses. I can mix and match a single product assortment into a variety of gift boxes without over-investing in individual components.
Any strategy mistakes you have made and what did you learn?
As part of our new business launch we conducted market research with almost 600 respondents. We asked cancer patients what items helped them through their healing journey. The idea of essential oil resonated heavily with many respondents. So – I ordered “Lavender Essential Oil” from a questionable website – after all, it was 30% cheaper than other varieties!
Sadly, when it arrived it turned out it was “Fragrance Oil” NOT “Essential Oil” – with explicit warnings not to use topically. Oops! I re-ordered organic essential oil from a domestic manufacturer and now am the owner of 90+ bottles of Lavender Fragrance Oil.
Finally what advice do you have for your fellow entrepreneur readers?
I recently came across this Zig Ziegler quote, “Fear has 2 meanings – Forget everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise.” I am at a crossroads in my life and career, taking a huge leap of faith based on an idea that I could fundamentally change ‘get well soon’ gifting, making it better for patients and gift buyers alike.
Leaving the security of full-time employment, cutting our household income in half, with two kids still in the house who will eventually need college tuition, in the middle of a global pandemic… it is A LOT to take on. It is terrifying and exhilarating. Run or Rise – those are the options – and every day, I proactively choose to Rise.
Disclaimer: The information in the above story is provided by the startup and The Strategy Story takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the product and services offered by the startup. Reader’s discretion is advised.
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