In the hostile world of entrepreneurship, it’s a comfort to see familiar faces in the fray.
Alex Chuang, enjoying a burst of popularity online for his heartwarming proposal video, has been a fixture of the Vancouver tech scene for years—he’s the managing director of Launch Academy, the cofounder of Weeve, and as a partner of Emberyl Creative, he’s dedicating his energies to the production and promotion of innovative business models.
With the exception of his newest project, that is, which takes both a traditional model and a familiar project and does it to the utmost. It’s called Safe, and it intends to be the Netflix of condoms.
These aren’t just any drugstore rubbers; Safe is distributing Okamotos, a Japanese variety known for producing the world’s thinnest condoms. You won’t find these at Shoppers Drug-Mart—only one brick and mortar store in the Lower Mainland carries them. For sizing reasons, Safe won’t be distributing the full range (the men of North America are free to take that as a compliment).
So, why condoms?
“The idea struck me when I was in Japan, but originally it was called Mr. Box. It would’ve been a box of sleepover essentials—makeup remover, contact lenses. I think every man should have an emergency kit,” Chuang explains. “We dove into it, and we realized that there’s twenty different things to source here! And what if they didn’t like the sourced brands? We took a step back and picked one thing out of the box to focus on, and it was condoms. Because we hate buying condoms. Buying them sucks. Running out of them sucks. The whole experience of buying them in a drugstore sucks.”
In condoms as in Shakespeare, discretion is the better part of valour. The condoms arrive in a sleek black box; invoices only read the URL, Safetheday.com.
“We’re not selling condoms, we’re selling confidence. We’re selling peace of mind, where you never have to worry about buying condoms again. We’re selling aspiration.”
They’re launching nationwide, and they’ll launch in America in three weeks. A referral program will provide one month’s worth of condoms free per new customer. Safe will soon be expanding into other products; once the platform has a foothold, Chuang sees their line diversifying into lubes, massage oils, and other bedroom paraphernalia, though the first expansion will be into extra-large condoms. As to what Alex’s parents think?
“They.. don’t know yet,” he laughs. “I’ll tell them when they come back from Taiwan! They’re going to go to my room and find out that my apartment has turned into a fulfillment center for condoms. But they’re both entrepreneurs, so, I can’t imagine them saying anything.”
It helps to understand the product that you’re selling; Chuang and his partner clearly do understand aspiration. But he wouldn’t be the first BC businessman to found a fortune on necessary goods. There’s a 25% offer for early adopters, so if you see yourself needing protection, there’s no time like the present.