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Balanced Hustler: Meet Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder and Inventor of TUSHY & THINX

7 min read

Being an entrepreneur can seem glamorous. We own our schedules, build our companies based on work we love—and sometimes we can even work beachside. But the glamour is second in command to the hustle. 

The hustle is what really defines the ups and downs of the entrepreneurship journey. And to shed some light on the work it takes to build a business, I’m interviewing fellow entrepreneurs who are ready to get real about their journeys. I’ll ask them how they manage to balance the hustle with the passion of what they do, and they’ll share what they had to overcome to get where they are today. It’s all in service of inspiring, supporting and illuminating the path for you, and we’re calling it the #BalancedHustler.

If there’s anyone who deserves to be labeled a “serial entrepreneur,” it’s Miki Agrawal, co-founder and inventor of TUSHY, THINX, Icon and Wild, and author of Do Cool Shit and Disrupt-Her. Miki, a former professional soccer player, brings levity, light and justice to categories that have typically garnered shame when discussing them culturally. She broke open the conversation about menstruation with her period underwear, Thinx, and now she brought that determination to Tushy, her affordable, sustainable and easy-to-use bidet company (hey, everybody poops, right?).

While her brand of activism isn’t without controversy, Miki is a true disruptor in the entrepreneurial space. She sees not just a gap in the market, but she also aptly identifies what that gap is asking for, and how she can actively improve the world, address the issue and make money, all at the same time. We touched base with her to find out how she built her brands and why she’s so attracted to industries that have traditionally been ridden with secrecy and shame.

Fast Facts: Miki Agrawal

When did you launch your businesses?

Wild: 2005

Thinx: 2014

TUSHY: 2015

Do Cool Shit: 2013

Disrupt-Her: 2019

In one sentence, tell us why you started each of your businesses.

Wild: [Personal] stomachache because of intolerance to processed dairy and processed gluten.

Thinx: Constant period accidents [were] messy and frustrating.

TUSHY: [I was] sick of having a dirty butt hole and showering all the time and killing 15 million trees with the rest of Americans who use toilet paper.

Do Cool Shit: [I] couldn’t find a book that gave granular, step-by-step guidance on how to start a business, raise money and make it happen in a fun, story-driven format.

Disrupt-Her: There needed to be a manifesto for the modern woman that pulls back the curtain on the societal preconditioning that is keeping us from living our full, lit-up, passionate lives.

How much did you invest in each one to get your businesses started?

Wild: $10,000

Thinx: $5,000

TUSHY: $15,000

How did you get capital to start?

Wild: Angel [investors] landed at my feet [and we] raised $250,000.

Thinx: [We] raised $450,000 from angels and then a manufacturing partner found us who wanted to invest $1.5 million.

TUSHY: Angel [investors] and small family offices [invested] $1.5 million.

What was your 2017 or 2018 revenue?

We grew 2x in 2017 and 2.5x in 2018 and [are] planning 3x growth in 2019 (under $20 million in revenue).

How long did it take for the business to get profitable?

Two years.

Are you growing your business to sell? Or this is your dream job and you want to be doing this in 10 years?

I love all of my projects. If the right partner comes along who can help amplify it with our values, then that would be amazing. Otherwise, happy to keep it going until it does.

How many hours a week do you work when you started versus now?

70 hours a week initially; 40 hours a week now—mom lyfe.

How many employees do you have?

Across all of the companies where I own a big stake? Like 110 or so.

What two business goals do you have for 2019?

  1. Build TUSHY to $50 million valuation.
  2. Introduce new inventions to the market.

How Miki Balances the Hustle

You’re the founder of FOUR acclaimed brands. Where do you get your ideas and how do you decide which ones are worth pursuing?

In my book Do Cool Shit, I talk about the three questions I ask myself before starting a business:

  1. What sucks in my world?
  2. Does it suck for a lot of people?
  3. Can I be passionate about this issue, cause or community for a really long time?

Let’s take Thinx, which we’ve written about on wellinsiders.com before: How did you grow that business from the ground up?

Starting in 2011, we started working on the product, so from 2011 to 2014, [we were] developing the product.

2015: Viral marketing.

2016: Exponential growth.

2017: Professional CEO put in place.

All of your businesses break taboos and bring to the forefront conversations that we need to have culturally. Is that intentional and why is that important to you?

For me, taboo categories have the least innovation because nobody is talking about it. So there is a big opportunity to disrupt those categories, improve the lives of people, of society and of the planet and make money while we do it. Win win.

You just published a self-help book for the modern woman. Why was it important to you to share your worldview/manifesto?

I think so much angst and hate and an Adderall-induced society is caused by pre-conditioning set forth well before we were born, in all areas of our lives. And when we are forced to follow a ready-made path, it feels so inauthentic to people. Why do we have to do it this way? Because society said so? So we don’t get laughed at? So we don’t get shamed? Doesn’t work for me or for most people anymore.

The more agency I give myself to speak my truth in all areas of my life, the happier and more lit up and alive I feel, so why not share it? Disrupt-Her examines 13 areas in our lives where we feel like we don’t have a say and it disrupts them all one by one.

You operate Tushy, the business you founded in 2015, without a hierarchical leadership structure. What do you use instead and why did you choose that route for an organizational structure?

It’s mostly a zone of genius structure where everyone takes charge of their own domains like marketing, operations and content. Those with less experience are managed by those with experience but the goal is to get everyone to a place where they are autonomous.

Miki’s Advice to Entrepreneurs

What is something I didn’t ask you about being an entrepreneur, about the journey/hustle that you wish I had?

When I give my talks, I talk about fearlessness. To me, fearlessness isn’t the absence of fear—it’s taking action in the FACE of fear. When you are attempting to go for it in the world and shake things up and disrupt things for the better, people and society might want to talk shit and say mean things about you and want to hold you back. It’s scary sometimes to go against the grain but the ones who have the most courage and are the most fearless are the ones who take action in the face of it.

What failure have you learned most from?

Hire slow, fire fast.

How did you overcome it?

Got a great lawyer. Seriously, [I] started taking way more time in the hiring process. Experience matters. I am now focused on hiring people only with real work experience. Also, I check everyone’s social media. If it’s all selfies, they are not hired because I know what kind of person they are. Not a team player.

What is your #1 piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

Put one foot in front of the other every single day and don’t stop, no matter what.

What does being a #BalancedHustler mean to you?

Spending time with my gorgeous husband and even more gorgeous son. Spending time with my incredible tribe of friends who are ALL doing cool shit. We call ourselves the “Boom Spiral,” which is basically the opposite of a “doom spiral.”

I [also] meditate every day and do something active every day.

Interested in what other female entrepreneurs do daily to balance the hustle? Check out our full Balanced Hustlerseries.

About The Author

Gianne Doherty

Gianne Doherty

Gianne Doherty is an inspirational and educational speaker, clean beauty advocate, co-founder of Organic Bath Co. and founder of WELL Summit. You can find her on Instagram @wellsummit and @giannedoherty. Her weekly series, Balanced Hustler, on WELL Insiders is a deep dive into entrepreneurship.

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