Revelstoke local business, Ovry, became a finalist last week for a Small Business BC award for the Best Youth Entrepreneur.
Ovry founder and CEO, Jackie Rhind, sat down on Friday to talk about the company, which sells alternative reproductive and pregnancy tests. Rhind spoke about how the company started, the challenges along the way, and how running the business out of Revelstoke has helped her. Ovry was borne out of a personal health issue that made Rhind aware of the problems with store bought pregnancy tests.
Whether the possibility of being pregnant is appealing or not for the individual taking the test, it’s indisputably stressful, which was one of the problems that Rhind had with the brands in stores. Some brands charge as much as $30 for just two tests, even though most –no matter the brand– use the same technology.
“It was really like capitalizing on a really vulnerable experience,” said Rhind.
Whether it’s an expensive test from the pharmacy, a less expensive test from a dollar store, or at a doctor’s office, most simply look for the presence of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Marketing has given certain brands the upper hand with a reputation for dependability.
Rhind partnered with her co-founder and director of marketing, Christina Witzel, who has been integral in getting Ovry products onto store shelves. Competing with the established names in the industry was the biggest challenge that Rhind isolated.
“It was evident we had to spend quite a bit of money on marketing and just like creating a really pretty brand, and a really trustworthy brand,” said Rhind.
Rhind said that one her favourite parts of the business has been the constant learning curve. One area that she noticed quickly was the difference between different buyers.
“There was such a stark difference between like female and male buyers,” said Rhind, adding that female buyers “immediately ” understood the anxiety that purchasing a pregnancy test can bring.
Unlike traditional pregnancy tests, Ovry’s are designed to be understated and appropriately priced. Early in the company’s life, they faced delays in manufacturing due to the pandemic. The factory that makes Ovry’s testing strips diverted all of their capacity to making COVID tests. Rhind said launching during the pandemic was tough but came with some benefits for the company.
“I think one of the benefits of starting the business during the pandemic is people were already more comfortable buying things like pregnancy tests online,” said Rhind.
After Witzel came on board, the company continued to expand, adding three more employees. Rya Kobewka is director of operations, Tianna Grey is an influencer and brand partnerships manager, and Sarah Nicol is the customer care manager.
“It doesn’t happen without help,” said Rhind, of the team at Ovry.
The community of Revelstoke is woven into the success of Ovry implicitly and explicitly. At the beginning of the journey, Rhind weighed the prospect of the company on a Revelstoke Community Facebook post. The initial survey gave Rhind the data she needed to support her decision to pursue the business—without the input from the community, she wouldn’t have felt comfortable chasing the business.
Living in Revelstoke has helped Rhind’s quality of life, which she believes has helped the business.
“I can be innovative because I’m spending time nurturing myself doing things I love—spending time with people I love,” said Rhind.
Rhind said that moving into the final group of nominees for the award comes back to community support.
“It speaks to the strength of the community that we have built. And the support that we have for what we’re building,” said Rhind.
To get this far in the award process, friends, family, and community members all voted for Ovry for the award. The next stage in the process is an interview where Rhind will pitch the company to the award’s oversight committee. Rhind expressed her appreciation for the Small Business BC awards for the help they provide, and for their impact.