Menstruation A Taboo? Not Any Longer: Startup FLOH
CEO & Founder, FLOH
With Padman’s release, feminine hygiene has been really been gaining some light. The industry is expected to reach $522 million in 2020. Women entrepreneurs today are disrupting the feminine hygiene space with innovative products and bold messaging. Over the days, women customer choices are also evolving. While writing this article, I researched and found out that a lot of women have chosen sustainable sanitary napkins over the conventional plastic ones. Also, both men and women these days are pretty much open about menstruation.
Talking of the real padman of the country, Arunachalam Muruganantham went to the extent of manufacturing a low price sanitary napkin machine for women, who couldn’t afford to buy one from the market. Though there is a long way to go for the entire India to fully transform, but I guess we have taken the first step already.
While the Padman of India, has made great headlines, there are self made women from various sections of the society who have taken the big step of educating India towards betterment. Last year, I had attempted a story on the occasion of Women’s Day about women who have disrupted the traditional way of thinking. One such woman was Maya Vishwakarma who hails from a small village in Madhya Pradesh, who didn’t know about the existence of sanitary napkins. Today, she is called the Pad-woman of India, as she educates women around the same. Though there are various products to be used, sustainable ones are the best and highly recommended by doctors.
Talking about sustainability, here’s a startup that is really unique. The brainchild of 25 years old, Gauri Singhal, FLOH is a revolutionary feminine health and hygiene brand, rolled out by Visionaari, a Delhi-based personal care start-up. It creates a portable digital viscous tampon that provides up to 8 hours of protection. Visionaari’s product portfolio also includes ‘FLOH Crampfree’ – period pain relief patches. Gauri envisions to reach out to every woman of today with solutions that enable them to take better care of their personal needs and is also driving 50% of FLOH’s business comes from Tier II and III cities with active e-commerce.
1. At a time when menstruation is still considered a taboo, how do you think could you bring about awareness?
The apprehension towards menstruation is primarily due to the fact that there isn’t enough awareness about the topic. The need of the hour is to make significant efforts towards raising awareness and removing the taboo around periods.
FLOH, in particular is creating 360 degree product awareness across demographics. Through its digital platforms it is initiating conversations about periods in a very bold, real and honest manner. We are reaching out to both young girls and women directly by visiting schools, colleges and corporates to address concerns and raise optimal awareness about menstruation and feminine hygiene solutions.
We believe that women deserve better solutions for feminine hygiene care and we are constantly committed to creating such products for them. As awareness continues to increase on the back of our efforts, the taboo will be removed and conversations about periods will become very comfortable in India.
2. Tell us about your plunge into the ocean of entrepreneurship.
The idea came to me while I was attending a major industry conference. In one of the panel discussions related to feminine hygiene, 2 industry veterans spoke exhaustively about Sanitary napkins.
Tampons are and should be an essential part of feminine hygiene and so, I began my research about the use and awareness of tampons in India. I found that the use of tampons in international markets such as Italy can go up to 60% when compared to sanitary napkins. In India, however, it has been almost 2% of the overall feminine hygiene market.
I realized that the product and the market has immense potential and is ripe for disruption. Further, I believe that women in India deserve better solutions to manage their periods. I wanted to offer them products that could change their lives and help them forget that they are on their periods.
3. What kind of challenges did you have to face during your entrepreneurial journey?
The biggest challenge is always to take that first step. The feminine hygiene space is an extremely brand loyal category, gaining the trust of the consumers was and still is the major focus area for us.
4. Recent data states that women occupy a very little space in the Indian startup space. What do you have to say about it?
I do understand that it is hard for women to climb the corporate ladder and get into the entrepreneurship space. There are challenges on an everyday basis as there are still people who discount women on being integral parts of the business landscape. It is, therefore, on us to keep our head held high and believe that our hard work will do the talking for us. If women have a great business idea that they believe in, I would suggest them to go for it. The statistics of the Indian startup space can always change. Your goal of becoming an entrepreneur should not.
5. Talking of your firm, what is your business model like? How are you unique from other players in the space?
We are a digital first start-up aided by leading e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa et al. Now, we now want to expand the business from the online to the offline space. We are tying up with a lot of leading Modern Trade outlets, supermarkets and pharmacies chains in Delhi/NCR and will replicate this growth on a Pan-India level as well.
Our unique value proposition, digital efforts and product focused approach differentiates us from our competitors and this is evidenced by a lot of other brands who are now beginning to emulate the route that we took while gaining traction since our initial days.
6. How do you plan on scaling up in the near future?
In order to gain further scale, we have strong plans to enhance our offline presence on a Pan-India level. We also have a strong intent to strategically increase our product portfolio with innovative and relevant menstrual care solutions which will prove to be life changing. We are also making giant efforts to reach out directly to our consumers to create product awareness. Consequently building trust and offering them feminine hygiene solutions that will change the way they perceive their periods.
7. Lastly, any advice for wannapreneurs?
Our brand enunciates, “Go with the Floh”. Perseverance is the key to success. There will be ups and downs but you need to take them head on.
- Problem they are solving: Addressing female hygiene
- Uniqueness: Well researched and product focussed approach
- Future Plans: Educating women about menstruation and FLOH reaching pan India
- Disruption: Taboo Around Menstruation