Evidently men value premium hygiene products for their privates. Three weeks ago we published my interview with the CEO of U.K.-based Balls. It competes with Manscaped, the industry leader.
And then there’s Ballsy, co-founded in 2017 by Adam Hendle, a former Google employee, who sold the business in 2021.
He and I recently discussed his journey, from the start of Ballsy to his eventual exit and, now, his new venture, a laundry-detergent sheet. The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Eric Bandholz: You’ve sold one business and launched another.
Adam Hendle: I owned a men’s personal care brand called Ballsy that focused on below-the-belt hygiene products. I started that in 2017 with just a few buddies. We had a shoestring budget and were able to build an eight-figure revenue business. We sold it in 2021. I took some time off. Now I’m ramping up the next thing, a laundry detergent brand called Slay.
Before Ballsy, I worked for Google. It was a dream job. Then I had the idea for a brand offering hygiene products for men’s genitalia. Initially it was a side business. We grew to $1.5 million in sales. That’s when I realized I needed to pursue it full-time. I told my boss, “I’m leaving Google to wash men’s balls.”
We started with $5,000 for marketing and our initial inventory. We caught lightning in a bottle with the product launch. We launched on Black Friday 2018 with 500 units of Ballswash, the main product. We sold out in 24 hours. The manufacturer quickly made an additional 5,000 units, and we sold all of them in that first holiday. Essentially, we turned the $5,000 into $75,000 or more. We used that money to fund the following year when we had $3 million in sales.
We received occasional acquisition offers from investors and aggregators. None of them felt right. In 2021, we started to get a few offers worth entertaining. We were about to sign a letter of intent when another interested party emailed us. We told them we had an LOI and they would need to move quickly. They responded, “Can we talk today?” We jumped on a call and received their LOI 24 hours later. We signed that one.
Bandholz: What did your content look like?
Hendle: The name Ballsy was feed-stopping, as were our main products: Ballwash, Nut Rub, and Sack Spray. This was before Manscaped was huge. We launched at roughly the same time. No one was talking about testicles. Reactions were, “Is this real? What’s going on here?”
Our best-performing ads were the Ballwash bottle on a white background. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t outperform that. It was new and different.
When we launched Ballsy, we thought 90% of customers would be male. Interestingly, 70% were female. We tried different audiences for our ads. We had five male-focused campaigns and one female. The female campaign would always dramatically outperform the male versions. Females liked buying it as a fun gift. As a bonus, they liked the fact that the product was good. We used quality ingredients, all sourced in the U.S.
Bandholz: What were your customer retention tactics?
Hendle: It wasn’t easy. A lot of people would buy for a holiday gift exchange, and then we would lose track of that customer. We created a scratch-off ticket promotion that helped. We designed a card with Santa holding a gift box. The recipient had to scratch the box to reveal the gift. It was a code for the website to win a free year of Ballwash. We were able to track customer attribution when a gift was given.
We improved email marketing as the brand progressed. Many females replied, “This doesn’t pertain to me.” We tried to segment by gender but never really figured it out.
Bandholz: What now?
Hendle: After taking some time off, I felt the callback to the game. I love operating an ecommerce company. The idea I’m pursuing now is a laundry-based business. Again, the brand is called Slay. I’m hoping to launch by July. The idea is, “Don’t do your laundry. Slay laundry.” Our product is a laundry detergent sheet, not a liquid or granules. It’s called Holy Sheet. There’s no measuring, no plastics.
Our Ballsy team is back together. This time we’re taking a more grassroots community approach. We launched a Facebook group three weeks ago called Laundry Slayer, and we’re building content on social to promote it. We’ve got 150 members. We let our community vote on our box design. It’s a different landscape than four years ago. I’m keeping my expectations low. This is more about doing something fun and creating a worthwhile brand.
Bandholz: How can people connect with you?