We recently probed into what really goes into your tampons, and yeah, we were appalled, extremely — who knew that’s what we’ve been putting into our body for years ?! On pinnacle of the — I’m gonna say it — terrible chemicals, tampons are unpleasant, can degenerate pangs, and can cause yeast illness. That doesn’t accurately sound like enjoyable, does it?
This same logic fetched CEO( and fearless commander) Lauren Shulte to develop The Flex Company, a disposable menstrual disc that lasts up to 12 hours. These little things are power, and Lauren’s story of how she made everything there is happen is absolutely inspiring. “Shes gone” from directing corporate hassles to get her through academy to creating a company from the ground up that is now sold under Target across the U.S. Yeah, we know, she’s that amazing! We talked with Lauren about what went into creating her firm, what being a business proprietor is like, and what’s in store next for The Flex Company.
What was your first occupation and how did you land it?
I started working when I was 10 to help support my family( I’m the oldest of 5 kids ). I babysat neighborhood kids and emptied houses for$ 3/ hour. My first “real” job was at IBM when I was 19. I got the job because I knew HTML and had constructed websites during my teens as a freelancer.
Had you always wanted to be an industrialist?
No way. I required a stable, corporate position. We’d contended financially growing up and I was really focused on procreating my own fund at a young age so that I could articulate myself and my younger sister through college.
How did your education prepare you for a role like this?
When I was in undergrad, I had an academic scholarship, but had to work full go during the day at corporate enterprises to pay for journals and other living overheads. The hours were grueling: 8am- 5pm at the bureau, and 5:30- 10 pm at clas. It took me a little longer to graduate than my peers, but that work ethic provisioned me for the long hours as an entrepreneur.
You’ve strove with stages and illness in the past — like most women! What procreated you want to finally do something about it?
FLEX was born out of a personal problem: I dislike tampons — they spill, they reek, they degenerate contractions, they’re uncomfortable, and they gave me dreadful yeast infections. After. Every. Period. And I was squandering organic tampons.
When a few of my friends told me about menstrual bowls for the first time in summer 2014, I was immediately intrigued by their promises. I couldn’t believe I had never heard of them before( at the time, 99% of women I questioned had never heard of them, either, but this is before the first menstrual cup Kickstarter and media aftermath ).
I did a bit research and detected none of the labels were reaching millennial dames( literally or figuratively ), and as a consumer marketer, this sparked my quest for information on the room. I had to figure out why these devices weren’t more widely known, and why tampon firms weren’t investing in new innovation.
But when I tried my first menstrual beaker, I was even more stymie by how difficult it was to insert and remove. When I tried coming my friends to use menstrual beakers, they had a same ordeal to me, and as far as is they affection the environmental issues, numerous couldn’t get behind the idea of rinsing and reusing.
Living in Silicon Valley, I was surrounded by entrepreneurs solving crazy difficulties; people discuss colonizing Mars over brunch. I couldn’t figure it out: why wasn’t anyone working on this difficulty? I went obsessively bizarre, and depleted a year learning the feminine hygiene marketplace, experimenting makes, and hosting focus radicals. It was during that process I discovered that the modern tampon( and menstrual cups) were invented in the 1930′ s, and that most women I spoke to were quite literally aching for something different.
Something really supernatural happened. By talking about this trouble every day, I concluded my excitement. Women( and men) were so relieved to ask questions and share floors about menstruation and women’s health. I decided to dedicate my life to uttering better produces for women.
After a year of studies I quit my advantageous sell activity. The provoke? In one week, I received two phone calls from out-of-state strangers asking me to guild my commodity. They had heard about me by word-of-mouth through a fourth-degree connect. I didn’t have a website, a squad, or a list, and I hadn’t even finished product development.
During college I had to work full go during the day at corporate activities to pay for books and other living overheads. The hours were grueling, but that work ethic conditioned me for the long hours as an entrepreneur.
Tell us about FLEX. How is a menstrual disc differently constituted a tampon or menstrual bowl?
Calling a menstrual disc and a menstrual cup the same concept would be like announcing eyeglasses and contact lenses the same happen. They both serve a same role( accumulating menstrual liquor) but the formation point and how they work with your body are significantly different. This blog post on our area details all the differences .
78% of FLEX customers tell us they’ve ignores they were on their interval when using FLEX; 70% reported that they felt the selection board had little cramping while squandering our disc versus conventional stage products.
What was the first step in creating The Flex Company?
The first party I shared my mind with is a successful serial financier who had just sold his first busines for$ 1 billion. His advice to me: “Don’t be afraid to tell everyone you converge about your idea.” That advice reverberated counter-intuitive but it performed me very well. Telling others about my doctrine cured me find early customers, draft a team of talented people who are smarter than me, and eventually raise money.
The next act I did was make a listing of all of the things I wasn’t good at but knew were important for launching a business. Then I observed people who had those the competences and persuaded them to work with me.
Then I got to work. I abused the Y Combinator application to create an early business mean. It facilitated me understand what investors would be looking for. Even though I was self-funded, I observed innovative the resources necessary to get as much traction as I could before going out to raise money.
How did you turn new ideas into a concoction?
There were a lot of starts and stops. I spent a year researching the FDA, the product development process, the feminine cleanlines marketplace, and manufacturing. I knew how to measure a market and sell a produce, and understood the basics of produce progress and manufacturing from my time at Autodesk but been acknowledged that I had a lot to learn.
I did my own the investigations and talked to dozens of experts in each of these areas, who graciously made the time to school me. I worked with a few industrial and mechanical architects to get our early ideas running, and simultaneously bought every type of feminine cleanlines make I could find online. I handed the products apart to women and mustered feedback and hosted focus groups to identify areas what they liked about dwelling concoctions and what they would change.
We eventually property on a concept that’s similar to a diaphragm, and the make tested really well with women. We used that as a baseline for our blueprint, and linked changes we could start aimed at improving the commodity knowledge. We eventually wreaked an industrial designer in house to partner with our make to perfect the final product.
I made a roster of all of the things I wasn’t good at but knew were important for propelling a business. Then I procured people who had those skills and convinced them to work with me.
What was the more difficult percentage about starting a business? The easiest?
Companies that construction their own concoctions have a chicken-and-egg problem — you need capital to create a produce, but investors demand you to demonstrate product-market fit( that beings will use and adore what else you building ). How can you has confirmed that parties will use and love your produce if it’s not created yet? That was a major impediment that I had to overcome.
The easiest part of starting a business was witnessing a infatuation in my duty and day-to-day run. My conviction to serve our purchasers comes me through the difficult moments.
Obviously, a great deal of research had to go into developing this type of commodity. How did you make sure you were generating something that was safe?
Because of the issues I faced with tampons, the safety and effectiveness of FLEX were most important to me. All textiles be utilized in FLEX, as well as the final product, ought to have researched by a third party for biocompatibility. We abused the most cutting-edge engineering to develop FLEX and medical-grade textiles that have been used by physicians inside the human body for decades.
What are more reinforcing part of your job?
Nothing outstrips listening from our clients that their lives are forever changed because of our product. I also “ve got a lot” of exultation from my crew. They’re extraordinary humans and we have a lot of fun at work, even when we’re working insane hours or going through a challenging period. Being surrounded by a group of people whom I revere and can chortle with becomes wreak enjoyable.
How has The Flex Company been increasing since the beginning?
We’ve more than double-dealing our revenue each year since open and have expanded to retail locales throughout the U.S. including Target.
What has been a really big success so far? What are you most proud of?
I envision producing our make less than 10 months after developing coin was an incredible stunt. It’s a kind II medical maneuver and we have a bespoke manufacturing way that we own, so everything is habit and most modulated. And I’m most proud of building a squad of magnificent people who live to serve our customers.
We’ve more than double-faced our income each year since propel and have expanded to retail spots throughout the U.S. including Target.
What admonition do you have for aspiring business owners?
1. Tell everyone you are familiar with your sentiment 2. Recruit people smarter than you to work on the problem 3. Make something beings adore; authenticate this by researching with real customers who will pay for whatever it is that “you think youre” making.
What’s next for your companionship? Do you hope to create more concoctions?
We’re working on exhausting an all-new product Spring 2019 and have a few others in the works.
We know you’ve merely shared an exciting notice for the company, a new concoction called the Flex cup. Can you tell us a little about that? Why was it a natural progression for Flex?
At our core, we believe parties deserve more options for age care that aren’t plainly window dressing( old products the hell is rebranded ). To us, more options means that we must design brand-new makes that address real purchaser aching targets. I knew from the start that the menstrual disc was just the beginning of our travel into innovation.
Our company has been working to develop a better menstrual cup for the past two years, but our disc business was developing so fast that we weren’t able to produce anything that we felt was a game-changer in comparison to other bowls on the market. But where reference is learnt the Kickstarter for a brand-new cup announced Keela, we affection that it addressed the core suffering stage of menstrual bowls: difficult removal. It peculiarity a attract string that attaches to the top of the bowl so when it’s pulled, it indents the two sides of the cup and easily divulge the suction that determines other goblets so very difficult to take out.
We immediately reached out to see how we could help. The co-founders instantaneously felt that we had a shared point of view on our perception for invention and our duty for performing clients. What started as a loose alliance blossomed over period, and eventually we decided it would attain “the worlds largest” appreciation to join forces. FLEX is helping Keela produce and ship their Kickstarter requires, and from there we are beginning displaying The FLEX Cup. The Flex Cup utilizes the same gather cord pattern, but with new inventing processes.
We are selling the FLEX Discovery Kit, which will come with 1 FLEX Cup and 2 FLEX Discs. The benefit is that people who are exasperated with other stage produces, or curious to try new ones, can get both products for the same toll as menstrual beakers that have been on the market for years. The FLEX Discovery Kit may be granted for preorder now at flexcup.com and will be included in retail in 2019.
What opinion would you give to your younger soul?
Practice self-love. Everything good begins there. When you love yourself, you then have more power to invest in curing others.
Lauren Schulte is The Everygirl . . .
Guilty pleasure song? Justin Bieber- Sorry
Go to outfit? Rag& Bone black jeans& Vince silk top( either pitch-black or grey ), with white-hot Keds
Dream vacation? Journey a motorbike through northern Thailand on the Mae Hong Son loop, remain in small town or villages along the way
Last movie you read in theaters? Notorious RGB
If you could have lunch with any woman, who are able it be and why? Oprah( clearly ). She’s been an idol since I was a young girl and to me epitomizes what it means to be a values-driven entrepreneur.
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