Meet Peony Li, Founder and CEO at Community-Led Healthcare Company: Jude

Jude is a community-led healthcare company. We break taboos on less talked about health topics and want to challenge the way society views ageing. Our first priority is to bring bladder care into the mainstream so people talk about it and those experiencing it feel less isolated.

Using a foundation of science and innovation, we have developed daily essentials and clinically-proven supplements that strengthen your pelvic floor and soothe your overactive bladder.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

My family have worked in the area of women’s health for over 30 years. It was perfectly normal to talk about ‘incontinence,’ ‘periods’ and ‘menopause’ around the family dinner table. There were no taboos in our home! When I came to the UK I was shocked at how many of these subjects remained ‘hush hush’ and I wanted to change that. It’s only very recently that people have begun to talk about the menopause and that’s great, but there is still a lot of room to share more and demystify a lot of everyday health issues that millions of people experience everyday.

I later went to the Founder’s Factory to learn different types of business models. I invested in over 60 companies and began to realise that consumer healthcare was where my passion lay.

Then, I joined DAYE as Head of Operations, and I helped the company scale and launch their pain-soothing tampon. I loved the fact that we’d hear back from women saying how much the product had changed their lives.

During the pandemic, I distributed over 6 million pieces of protective equipment to frontline workers in care homes, charities and distribution centres. I met a lot of women who were in their fifties who were struggling with bladder issues.

These personal stories made me think about the area in more detail, and I later discovered that 2.3 billion people suffer from overactive bladders worldwide. I kept thinking about a business that could provide a 360 solution- clinically-trialled products, an authentic community, and trusted experts. This was how Jude was born.


How has the company evolved over the last few years?

Being able to adapt and being best in class when it comes to execution are important elements in unpredictable times. The pandemic taught us the best practices when it came to remote working, the on-going war in Ukraine taught us how to up our game in terms of supply chain resilience.

IOS 14 changes killed quite a few e-commerce start-ups and that lesson taught us about diversification in marketing channels. All these events taught me to never be complacent and to continue to innovate and look at ways to do things more efficiently. It also taught me to make sure your whole supply chain is insured.

I think the interesting area that has also changed in business post-pandemic is how we work with one another. Hybrid working has become the norm and this presents both positives and negatives (we all know that feeling of having a day full of zoom meetings and the impact it can have on energy levels). We spend a lot of time thinking about how to get the best out of people and how to motivate them.

This requires experimentation and trying new things and also acknowledging that different people work in different ways. Without an engaged and passionate team the success isn’t possible. We want to think differently in terms of working practices and we also have an age diverse team which gives us the edge in terms of understanding our target market.


What can we hope to see from Jude in the future?

We have just launched our leak-proof pants which are gathering momentum and we will be expanding our product range so we can cater to different women and different health challenges. Our products are shaped by our community and their needs but also based on a robust understanding of the gaps in the market and where we can offer something different. We will also be expanding our offering to male customers and thinking about ways we can serve them best.

We continue to think about the way we speak to this older demographic and aim to be part of the shift towards a more inspiring, authentic way of speaking to them.

This means creating our own distinctive tone of voice and not following the crowd. There are still some overused stereotypes floating around in the advertising world, and we know from our community that the way they are addressed is often out of synch with their attitude to life. The way people age has changed but the way people are marketed to has not. There is a lot of work to be done in this space.

I want to also discover other taboo health areas to talk about too. So everything from low libidos to sleep issues – we want to tackle the stigma around certain health issues and bring a new perspective to the table.

What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

It’s important to truly understand your own business (its weakness and strengths). The funding market is always going to be noisy – and you cannot control that.

I’d suggest founders focus on things they can control e.g. optimising product market fit, improving the marketing proposition, improving the touch points with customers, and deepening your understanding with your target audience. These are the foundation of building a stronger business, and should be a constant project to work on in good and bad times.

At the start of a downturn, if you haven’t had product market fit, then make sure you have about 18 months of runway, and if you don’t have, see how much cash you can preserve.

If you have product market fit, then there is a huge opportunity to refresh prices, revisit the talent pool (there are lots of layoffs recently) and rethink other areas of the business too. Surround yourself with good people, talented people who support one another and believe in your mission. Work hard and have fun.