We recently delved into what really goes into your tampons, and yeah, we were appalled, too -who knew that’s what we’ve been putting into our body for years?! Along with the – I’m gonna say it – nasty chemicals, tampons are uncomfortable, can worsen cramps, and can cause yeast infections. That doesn’t exactly sound like fun, does it?
This same reasoning brought CEO (and fearless leader) Lauren Schulte to develop The particular Flex Company, the disposable menstrual disk that lasts close to 12 hours. This are magic, plus Lauren’s story showing how she made it almost all happen is absolutely uplifting. She went through working corporate work to obtain her via school to creating a business from the ground upward that is now bought from Target across the Oughout. S. Yeah, we all know, she’s pretty amazing! We all talked with Lauren in what went into generating her company, exactly what being truly a business proprietor is like, and what is waiting for you following for The Flex Organization.
Name: Lauren Schulte, CEO & Founder of The Flex Company
Location: Venice (LA) California
Education: Bachelors in Marketing from Georgia State University
What was your first job and how did you land it?
I began working when I was 10 to assist support my family (I’m the oldest associated with 5 kids). I babysat neighborhood children and cleaned homes for $3/hour. The first “real” work was at IBM when I continues to be 19. I obtained the job because I knew HTML together built websites within my teens as a freelance writer.
Had you always wanted to be a business owner?
No way. I desired a stable, corporate work. We’d struggled monetarily growing up and I was really focused on producing my very own money in a young age in order that I could put personally and my more youthful sister through university.
How did your education prepare you for a job like this?
Whenever I has been in basic, I had an educational scholarship, but needed to work full period throughout the day at business work to spend for books along with other living expenses. The particular hrs were grueling: 8am – 5pm in the office, and 5: thirty – 10 evening at school. It took me the little lengthier in order to graduate compared to the peers, yet that will work ethic trained me for the particular prolonged hours because an business owner.
You’ve struggled with periods and infections previously – like most women! What made you would like to finally do something about it?
FLEX was born out of a personal problem: I hate tampons – they leak, they smell, they worsen cramps, they’re uncomfortable, and they gave me terrible yeast infections. After. Every. Period. And I was using organic tampons.
Each time a few of our friends described regarding menstrual mugs with regard to the first period in summer time 2014, I had been instantly intrigued by their guarantees. I could not think I experienced in no way heard of all of them before (at time, 99% of females I asked got never ever heard regarding them, possibly, yet this is prior to the 1st menstrual mug Kickstarter and press aftermath).
I do a little study plus discovered none from the brands had been achieving millennial ladies (literally or figuratively), so that as a customer marketer, this particular started my pursuit of info on the area. I had in order to determine the reason why these types of devices weren’t a lot more well known, plus just exactly why tampon companies were not purchasing new development.
But when I tried my first menstrual cup, I was even more frustrated by how difficult it had been to insert and remove. When I tried getting my friends to use menstrual cups, they had a similar experience if you ask me, and as much because they love the environment, many couldn’t get behind the thought of rinsing and reusing.
Living within Silicon Valley, I was encircled simply by entrepreneurs solvwithing insane problems; individuals talk about colonizing Roter planet (umgangssprachlich) more than brunch. I could not figure this away: why was not anybody working on this issue? I got obsessively curious, and invested per year learning the particular feminine cleanliness marketplace, testing items, plus hosting concentrate organizations. It had been in that process I found that the contemporary tampon (and monthly cups) had been developed in the 1930’s, and that the majority of women I talked to had been very literally painful regarding different things.
Some thing really magical occurred. By talking regarding this issue each day time, I discovered our passion. Ladies (and men) had been therefore relieved in order to inquire questions and discuss tales about menstruation plus women’s wellness. I made the decision to devote my life in order to making much better items for women.
Following a year of analysis I quit the lucrative marketing work. The trigger? In seven days, I obtained two cell phone calls through out-of-state strangers requesting me personally to purchase our product. Which they acquired heard about myself by word-of-mouth via a fourth-degree connection. I didn’t have a website, a group, or perhaps a name, plus I hadn’t actually completed product advancement.
During college I had to work full time throughout the day at corporine jobs to pay for books along with other living expenses. The hours were grueling, but that work ethic conditioned me with regard to the extended hours as an entrepreneur.
Tell us about FLEX. How is a menstrual disc different from a tampon or menstrual cup?
Calling a monthly disc plus a monthly glass the same point will be like phoning eye glasses and get in touch with lenses the same thing. These people both function the similar purpose (collecting menstrual fluid) nevertheless the form factor plus how these people function with your body are very different. This particular post on this web site details all the variations.
78% of FLEX customers reveal they’ve forgotten they were on their period when working with FLEX; 70% reported that they felt they had less cramping when using our disc versus traditional time period products.
What was the first step in creating The Flex Company?
The first individual I shared the idea with is generally a successful serial business owner who had simply sold his very first company for $1 billion. His guidance if you inquire me personally: “Don’t become afraid to inform everybody you fulfill regarding your concept. ” That suggestions seemed counter-intuitive non-etheless this served myself really well. Telling other people about my concept helped me discover earlier users, sponsor the team associated with skilled folks that are better compared to me, and finally increase money.
The next matter I did has been create a list associated with all of the particular points I was not good at yet understood were important with regard to starting a company. Then I discovered people who experienced those skills plus convinced them in order to use me.
After that I got in order to work. I utilized the Y Combinator application to produce an earlier on company strategy. It assisted me determine what traders would be searching for. Despite the truth that I had been self-funded, I discovered creative ways in order to get just as much grip as I can prior to heading in order to raise cash.
How did you turn an idea into a product?
There were a lot of starts and stops. I spent per year researching the FDA, the product development process, the feminine hygiene market, and manufacturing. I knew how exactly to measure a market and sell an item, and understood the basics of product development and manufacturing from my time at Autodesk but recognized that I had too much to learn.
I did my very own research and spoken to dozens associated with specialists in every of these places, who graciously spent the time to teach me personally. I worked along with several commercial plus mechanical technicians in order to get our earlier concepts going, plus simultaneously bought all sorts of feminine cleanliness product I might find online. I offered the products aside in order to women plus collected comments plus hosted concentrate organizations to discover the actual liked about current items and exactly what they may change.
We eventually landed on a concept that’s similar to a dithephragm, and the product tested really well with women. We used that as a baseline for our design, and identified changes we could make to improve the merchandise experience. We eventually brought an industrial designer in house to partner with our manufacturer to master the final product.
I made a list of all of the things I wasn’t good at but knew were important for launching a business. Then I found individuals who had those skills and convinced them to utilize me.
What was the hardest part about starting a business? Easy and simple?
Companies that will produce their very personal items have the chicken-thend-egg issue — you will require funds to create a product, yet investors want you to definitely show product-market match (that people uses and love whatever you are making). How s this possible to show that will individuals will make use of plus love your own item if it is not produced however? That has already been a significant hurdle that will I had in order to overcome.
The easiest part of starting a business was finding a passion in my own mission and day-to-day work. My conviction to serve our customers gets me through the difficult moments.
Obviously, a lot of research had to get into developing this kind of product. How did you make sure you were creating a thing that was safe?
Because of the issues I faced with tampons, the safety and efficacy of FLEX were most important if you ask me. All materials used in FLEX, as well as the final product, have been tested by a third party for biocompatibility. We utilized probably the most cutting-edge technology to develop FLEX and medical-grade components which have been used by doctors in the human body for decades.
What is the most rewarding part of your task?
Nothing is better than listening to from our clients that their life is forever changed due to our product. I also get your self a large amount of pleasure from the group. They’re amazing people and we possess a lot of enjoyable at the office, even whenever we’re operating crazy hours or even heading right through the challenging time. Becoming surrounded by method of a group whom I appreciate and may giggle along with makes function enpleasureable.
How has The Flex Company grown since the beginning?
We’ve more than doubled our revenue each year since launch and have expanded to retail locations throughout the U.S. including Target.
What has been your biggest success up to now? What are you most proud of?
I think manufacturing our product less than 10 months after raising money was an incredible feat. It’s a type II medical device and we have a bespoke production line that we own, so everything is custom and highly regulated. And I’m most pleased with building a team of brilliant individuals who live to serve our customers.
We’ve more than doubled our revenue each year since launch and also have expanded to retail locations through the entire U.S. including Target.
What advice do you have for aspiring companies?
- Tell everybody you realize about your own concept 2. Sponsor individuals smarter compared to you to definitely focus upon the problem a few. Make something individuals love; validate this particular by testing along with real customers which will pay for what ever it truly is that a person will be producing.
What’s next for your company? Can you hope to create more products?
We’re working on releasing an all-new product Spring 2019 and have several others in the works.
We know you’ve just shared an exciting announcement for the company, a new product called the Flex cup. Can you tell us a little about that? Why was it an all natural evolution for Flex?
At the primary, we think individuals deserve a lot more choices for period treatment that will aren’t just windows dressing (old items that are usually rebranded). İn order to all of us, a lot a lot more choices means that will we should style new products that will tackle real client discomfort points. I understood right aside that the monthly disc was only the start of our own trip into development.
Our own company offers been trying to create a better monthly cup for the particular past 2 yrs, yet our disk company was developing therefore quickly that people were not able to generate anything that all of us experienced was a game-changer compared to other mugs in the marketplace. But whenever we noticed the particular Kickstarter for a new cup known as Keela, we adored that will it addressed the particular core pain stage of menstrual glasss: difficult removal. It features a draw chain that connects towards the very greatest of the glass when it’s drawed, it indents the particular medial side from the cup and very easily breaks the suction which makes some other mugs so difficult to acquire.
We instantly provided to observe how we may help. The co-founders immediately felt that we all a new shared globe approach to our eyesight to get innovation plus the mission with regard to helping customers. Exactly what began as the loose companionship increased dramatically over time, and finally we decided it might make the many sense to participate causes. FLEX will be assisting Keela create plus ship their own Kickstarter orders, plus through there we will start producing The particular FLEX Cup. The particular Flex Cup uses exactly the exact same pull thread style, but with brand new manufacturing processes.
We are selling the FLEX Discovery Kit, which will come with 1 FLEX Cup and 2 FLEX Discs. The benefit is that people that are frustrated with other period products, or curious to try new ones, can get both products for the same price as menstrual cups which have been available on the market for years. The FLEX Dwill becovery Kit can be acquired for preorder now at flexcup.com and will undoubtedly be in retail in 2019.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Practice self-love. Everything good begins there. Once you love yourself, you then have significantly more energy to invest in helping others.
Lauren Schulte may be the Everygirl . . .
Guilty pleasure song?
Justin Bieber – Sorry
Go to outfit?
Rag & Bone black jeans & Vince silk top (either black or white), with white Keds
Riding a motorbike through northern Thailand on the Mae Hong Son loop, residing in little towns or villages on the way
Last movie you saw in theaters?
If you could have lunch with any woman, who it be and why?
Oprah (clearly). She’s been an idol since I was a girl and to me epitomizes what this means to be a values-driven entrepreneur.