Hoopsy: bringing health and sustainability together

Startups are a unique breed, where passion, innovation, and the daily grind intersect. One such startup that embodies this spirit is Hoopsy, a company on a mission to change home-based testing kits by eliminating single-use plastics

This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Startups Magazine. Click here to subscribe

Passion-led beginnings

Lara Hoopsy headshot mar 24

Lara Solomon, Founder of Hoopsy, has a colourful history with ventures in various product-based businesses, each of them driven by her love of products she believes in. However, it was her personal experience with fertility treatments that engaged Lara's entrepreneurial spirit and led her to the idea of Hoopsy.

"The reason for founding Hoopsy is because I did IVF to try to get pregnant. I did my own egg harvesting. And that didn't work. I did two donor embryo transfers. They didn't work either. But in doing that, I realised just how many pregnancy tests we use and how much plastic there was and how much plastic there didn't need to be."

Hoopsy’s sustainable vision

Hoopsy's mission is clear and unapologetic: to eliminate single-use plastic from all home-based testing kits, starting with pregnancy tests. Indeed, the origin of the company name reflects the brand’s essence and affirms that with hard work comes the hope of a more sustainable future.

"The word hoop is Dutch for hope. I added the ‘s’ because, like the fertility journey, you’re jumping through hoops in life. And the ‘y’ nicely rounds it off."

Lara's environmentally friendly tests use 99% paper and 99% plastic-free materials. However, creating a fully flushable product in-line with her mission proved to be a formidable challenge.

"Making a test fully flushable is a hard one because there are no global flushable guidelines. It all depends on each country and the system they have.”

A global problem

"Globally, every year, over 11 million kilos of plastic from home-based testing kits go to landfill. That's about the same weight as two Eiffel Towers. And that's the problem we want to address."

This problem extends beyond plastic waste; it encompasses the issue of microplastics and the strain on landfills.

"Plastics end up as microplastics, which end up in us, and landfill is filling up. We'll get to that stage where there won't be any space to throw rubbish into landfill. So Hoopsy is looking at health and also at the environment."

Hoopsy’s vision for the future

Hoopsy currently focuses on pregnancy tests; however, Lara has a roadmap for expanding their product range into ovulation tests, highlighting their goal to create a comprehensive suite of urine-based tests.

Beyond that, Hoopsy plans to white-label for other brands and license its sustainable test technology to lateral flow manufacturers, ensuring that the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are not forgotten.

Building the Hoopsy community

Hoopsy's commitment to women's health and sustainability goes beyond its products, and Lara explains the genesis of the Hoopsy community was when she was going through IVF.

“I had quite a lot of friends that were going through the same, and I found it was really helpful to talk to them about what was happening and to ask questions.

"Our community is different in that it's got experts like fertility coaches, acupuncturists, dieticians, doctors, etc., as well as regular people that are trying to conceive."

The solo entrepreneur

Lara runs Hoopsy as a solo entrepreneur which she acknowledges wasn't always the plan.

"I did have a slightly bigger team, but I'm fundraising at the moment, and it got to a difficult stage where I had to make a choice. Keep people and have less runway, or have more runway but less people. I decided that having more runway was a better option for us because the fundraising landscape is quite slow at the moment. But the goal with our next fundraising round is to add more people to the team.

“However, fundraising is not easy. They say that only 2% of funding goes to women. The thing I find hard is when I meet people and tell them what Hoopsy is doing – they love it, but when it comes to offering funding, there’s a disconnect.”

Triumphs amidst challenges

Whilst fundraising remains a significant hurdle on the Hoopsy journey, another unexpected challenge was customer education. Though the accuracy of the tests is on par with other leading brands, Lara is often asked if they work. Despite this, the support and enthusiasm for Hoopsy has been heartening.

"The overall arching highlight would be the excitement and the support I've had around the brand –when I pitch, I get people coming up and offering to help me for free. I've never had that before in business."

Growing with Hoopsy

Lara has a well-defined plan for Hoopsy's growth. The company is expanding into new territories, starting with Europe, with an eye on the US market. They're also developing the next generation of sustainable products, slated for release in 2026.

However, Lara acknowledges the unique challenge of getting their product into physical stores.

“We're trying for the big supermarkets where our reach can help more women and the environment. But I’ve found that the buyers are reluctant to stock sustainable products. But sustainability is the way consumers are going, the way the world is going, and yet, in this category, they just don't seem to want to take the chance.”

Hoopsy's journey is a testament to the tenacity of startups, the importance of sustainability, and the enduring power of passion. Lara’s path from personal adversity to founding a company with a vision is an inspiring story for anyone looking to make a difference. Hoopsy, with its commitment to sustainability and accuracy, is poised for a future where innovation and eco-consciousness lead the way.