Jude, the healthcare company on a mission to bring bladder care into the mainstream, has raised £2m in the biggest pre-seed round by a solo female founder in the UK.
Founder Peony Li has set out to tackle a problem that impacts 1 in 3 women or 14 million people in the UK but was initially told by potential investors the issue wasn’t “sexy enough” to invest in.
Targeting an “invisible demographic” of women aged between 40-60, Jude joins other challenger brands on a mission to break down taboos in rapidly growing women’s health and ‘elderly’ care markets.
Its bladder-care essentials – fully biodegradable, 100% plant-based liners, pads and clinically tested supplements have been co-created with its community of 300 women.
The pre-seed round, led by June Angelides MBE at Samos VC (Ocado, Charlotte Tilbury, Lick, Bloom & Wild, Skin + Me), has a diverse cap table featuring 12 female angel investors and also includes Access VC, Reckitt’s innovation fund; Stephen Bourke, Founder of Echo Pharmacy, now Lloyds Direct; and David Rowan, Founder of VOYAGERS and Founding Editor-in-Chief of WIRED UK.
Launched in January 2022, Jude has since shipped to 2,600 customers and will use the pre-seed funding to invest in R&D to further develop its innovative and affordable solutions for bladder care, running large scale clinical supplements trials, expanding the marketing team and continuing its focus on educational content to break down taboos and remove stigma around bladder health.
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Peony Li’s (28) background as Head of Investments at Founders Factory offered her “military training” for her fundraise, and she delivered over 100 pitches in one week.
Women investors contributing to the round include Montse Suarez, Founding Partner of Vaultier 7 and Iris Ventures; Rupa Popat, Entrepreneur and angel investor in under-represented founders; Maya Moufarek, ex-CMO of Pharmacy2U; Deepali Nangia, Co-founder of Alma Angels; Eva Tarasova, Investment Director at Wharton Asset Management; Renee Parker, ex-Head of Luxury Beauty at Amazon; Triin Linamagi, Co-founder at Sie Ventures; Lian Michelson, Investment director at Vala Capital; Viktoria Tchoudakov, VP Growth Marketing at ZOE; and Samira Ann Qassim, Co-founder at Pink Salt Ventures.
June Angelides MBE, Samos VC said: “Samos is attracted to exceptional founders looking to develop new consumer brands, where the mission is abundantly clear, and which have the potential to disrupt existing industries and upend the incumbents. With Jude, Peony ticked all these boxes.
“There’s no denying that this is an industry that has seen limited innovation for many years and women’s health has sadly been underfunded for too long. The reality is with better access to healthcare, women are living longer and working longer. It is imperative that innovation continues beyond menstrual tracking, fertility and pregnancy. I want to see more products and services being created to truly enable older women to live full lives.”
Peony Li, Founder, Jude said: “Over 14 million of us experience problems with our bladders, so why do we continue to suffer in silence? I want to break the stigma around bladder care and create a community and brand that makes people feel heard, seen and supported. I know I’ll have succeeded when we all start having conversations about incontinence in the same way we talk about periods and menopause.
My passion for finding and investing in solutions to health problems for underserved communities has led me to invest in men’s hair loss treatments and commercialised pain-relieving tampons for women with endometriosis. Now I want to smash one of Britain’s biggest taboos and bring bladder care into the mainstream conversation.”
Greg Chabidon, Head of Global Business Unit for Vitamins Minerals & Supplements, Reckitt said: “Bladder issues, incontinence and leaking is a severely understudied and stigmatised space. Jude’s Bladder Strength Supplements are clinically tested and formulated with two natural botanicals that have shown very promising results for improving bladder care and the impacts this has on both sleep and overall wellbeing.
“At Reckitt, we’re particularly passionate about supporting innovation in our journey to a cleaner and healthier world, with people living longer, there is growing near-term demand for health and wellbeing products that allow people to live their lives to the full – with both a healthy body and mind.”
Jude has been created with the support of world class doctors and advisors, including Andrew Vallance Owen MBE, recently Group Medical Director at Bupa; Dr. Leena Pradhan-Nabzdyk, CEO of Canomiks and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Shahzadi Harper, Medical Expert in perimenopause, menopause and healthy ageing and Mr Jai Seth, Consultant Urological Surgeon.