Tara Langdale-Schmidt hadn’t planned on being an entrepreneur. But after suffering from unbearable pain, numerous medical misdiagnoses, and several ineffective surgeries, she felt that she had no choice.
For four long years, Tara suffered from Vulvodynia, a chronic pain experienced by an estimated 15 percent of American women. Tara had sharp, stabbing, burning pain in her pelvic area, making it impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy with her future husband. The pain – physical emotional and mental – was agonizing and impacted her quality of life. After undergoing several surgeries and even having a doctor suggest she drink wine before trying sex with her husband, she had enough.
From her previous positive experience using magnets to reduce back and neck nerve pain after a car accident, she had a “lightbulb moment” to add neodymium magnets into a vaginal dilator. With the help of medical experts and advisors, she turned her idea into a nonprescription medical device. That’s when VuVa Tech was born.
Her startup was not easy, she went three years without a paycheck and suffered some setbacks on the product design, but she knew she had a game-changing medical device that today has proven to help women relieve pelvic pain and sexual discomfort.
The dilator device has allowed Tara and over 7,000 women all over the world to live a more normal life and finally enjoying sex without pain, helped expand families and brought relief for the men who suffered along with them.
StarCentral Web recently sat down with Tara Langdale-Schmidt to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
Many people know they want to follow the entrepreneur path from the getgo, but I was not one of them.
In fact, I never gave a thought to being a startup business entrepreneur. But after suffering from unbearable pain, numerous medical misdiagnoses, and ineffective surgeries, I decided I had no choice.
I am one of the millions of women worldwide who suffer from Vulvodynia, which causes chronic pain and discomfort in the Vulva region.
For four long years, I experienced sharp, stabbing, burning pain in my pelvic area, making it impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy with my boyfriend, Jason, who would become my husband. The pain, both physical and mental, was agonizing and impacted my quality of life.
For the first two years that I dealt with pain during intercourse, my OB/GYN told me to drink wine and take some Advil before sex. Some advice!
Searching for another answer, I went to a pelvic pain specialist who did not even examine me. Instead, he wanted to put me on an antidepressant for the pain. Can you imagine??
Finally, I had enough. I took my medical condition into my own hands. Searching for an answer went on for years until I ran across an article on vulvodynia and I realized that is what I had. From my previous positive experience using magnets to reduce back and neck nerve pain after a car accident, I had a “lightbulb moment” to add neodymium magnets into a vaginal dilator. With the help of medical experts and advisers, I turned my idea into a nonprescription medical device and startup business – VuVatech www.vuvatech.com – to relieve the pain and sexual discomfort experienced by so many women today. The dilator device has allowed me and over 6,000 women all over the world to live a more normal life and finally enjoy sex without pain. This device has also improved relationships, marriages and even helped couples expand their families.
Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
The journey started when the pelvic pain began. I knew that making Neodymium Vaginal Dilators would work for others because they worked so well for me. There was no doubt in my mind. These women needed help, and I was going to be the one to do it.
What is your main source of income?
Our VuVa Magnetic Dilator product has been wildly successful. It’s been able to fund the company and myself.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
We are working on making our vaginal dilators in different materials, a very exciting development. Also, we have just hired a new marketing company that will help open new doors and opportunity for the business. The ads will launch in the coming weeks. And we’ve been using a fabulous public relations professional, John Goodman, who has gotten us a lot of attention and awareness.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
We are very active on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. All have been incredibly successful in creating awareness of our company and dilator products. We’ve received interest from all over the world, from Australia to the US.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
We have found it very helpful and definitely has paid off. I like Google AdWords the best. We like to focus mainly on our patient outreach, public relations campaign and aggressive social media.
What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
Branding is everything. You must have a unique, recognizable logo and brand. Stay consistent with colours, fonts, and your story.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Word of mouth has been very helpful. We have the best reviews which are heartwarming. We’ve helped women regain their sexuality and, in some cases, have saved marriages. Also, some women have become pregnant after they thought they never could because sex was too painful. It is incredible that we have pelvic pain ambassadors all over the globe sharing their successful VuVa stories.
How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
We are the only vaginal dilators with a patented magnetic sleeve inside to help reduce pain quicker and calm muscles. There are other dilator sets on the market, but ours are made right down the road from our office, and we know exactly what type of safe material that is being used. We also help women find doctors and pelvic floor physical therapists in their area, even if they are not a customer.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
We are growing rapidly, so deciding on how much product to order from the manufacturer to keep orders flowing. I have a hard time spending money because I like to see the bank account grow, but you have to spend money to make money. I would say this can be a tough decision, but a good one to have to make!
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?
If you can do something yourself, do it. We spent a lot of money on a marketing and branding company to make our site. I was very unhappy with it and created a new website in two days. Do not underestimate yourself. Now I do most everything myself, and Google is my best friend!
What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
I’m hardly wealthy at this point. I have seen many entrepreneurs that define success by how much money they have in the bank, the car they drive and the house they own. I think differently. I define success by how many women I can help. My main goal is to help women overcome pain and resume normal, healthy lives; anything monetary will only be a bonus.
What new business would you love to start?
I’ve thought about this question for a while, and honestly, I would like to create another business where I am helping people and talking about a subject that people need help with but are afraid to talk about. Similar to VuVatech. But right now, I’m too busy to even think about starting another business! Helping women with pelvic pain is one of the most rewarding things I could have ever done, and I am beyond fulfilled.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
If I could go back, the toughest lesson I’ve learned is always show contracts to an attorney. We had hired a company that was going to help us market our magnetic pelvic pain dilators to physicians and physical therapists. We mistakenly did not send it to our lawyer to review. The potential partner agreed to commission for sales but made a drastic change in the contract one month later. At that point, we informed our attorney, and he sent a termination letter immediately. But the situation could have been avoided if we had sent it initially to our attorney to review. Going forward, we now have our attorney review all contracts and business agreements in advance.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
Don’t go to college. I am so happy I stopped going (which was due to medical reasons at the time). Student debt is a very big issue in our country, and I am making more than most college grads. I wasted time, but you live and learn.
Do you have any favourite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
I love Gary Vaynerchuk. He is an amazing entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He doesn’t put up with any excuses, and that is a lot like me.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Do not believe everything you hear; there are a lot of people in the business that want a piece of your pie right off the bat without gaining trust or respect first.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
You might fail, and that’s okay. It’s okay to throw in the towel. Do not waste money keeping a dream alive that you feel will never be successful. This is very important because every mistake you made the first time around will help you create something more successful in the end.