Innovating in such a controversial, traditionally “shameful” space has set us up as fodder for all sorts of strong opinions. From high praise and anticipation, to laughter and even disgust, we feel we’ve seen it all. And for such a small company so recently founded, the latter can be, and in some cases has been, enough of a deterrent to survival that quitting seems like the best option for all parties involved. In our case, however, the disbelief and objections we’ve received have only served to fuel our fire to continue as long as we are able, because this resistance only goes to show that the innovation in question is truly revolutionary.
When we first started out as a class project, we called ourselves “Team Taboo,” and that theme has carried through till now. This week on a television appearance in Spain I highlighted, albeit in my broken Spanish, that reducing the stigma and taboo around menstruation was indeed one of our driving goals.
Because while most men I have talked to about my company become immediately visibly uncomfortable, more often than not trying to break the thick ice with a disclaimer that they “can’t really relate to this personally,” some women have also been quite critical. Indeed Dana Wollman, a female journalist from Engadget, in her piece about us entitled “Who needs a smart tampon when you have common sense?” stresses that over the years her and others’ cycles have started to “run like clockwork...Even without the help of an app, I know when my period will start, which days will be the heaviest be and how long on each day I can get away with leaving a tampon in.” As such, our product is absolutely not for everyone. However many menstruators we’ve talked to, no matter how post-pubescent, are still thrown curveballs on the monthly in terms of both density and timing of their flow. Others lose track of whether or not they’ve put in a tampon and when. Still others are chronically heavy bleeders, in search for a way to quantitatively measure the heaviness of their flow to monitor risks of anemia, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding, and more. In my time in this space thus far, I have yet to discern a correlation between an individual’s common sense and the presence of the above conditions, and I don’t think I will anytime soon.
Really though, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and it’s a given in the startup community that not only are haters a sign of success, but lack thereof might actually be a bad sign. So while the road has not been easy, we’ve realized that innovation in this long-overlooked space is more than necessary.