In our “Starter Story” series we invite femtech founders to share their stories of how it all began. How did they come up with the idea? Where did they meet their cofounders and what was the hardest part of going from 0 to 1?
In today’s Starter Story we get to share Awkward Essentials‘ founding story as told my founder Frances Tang. Awkward Essentials is a new kind of no-bs hygiene company. They’re all about breaking the internet and providing personal solutions for hella personal problems.
When did the idea for your startup first come up?
I’m married, and I always hated the after sex clean up ritual. The crossed-leg-ninja roll off the bed, penguin walk to the bathroom, and camp out on the toilet was not the business. My hacked together solution of toilet paper, crusty old t-shirts, towels and showers still inevitably led to next day gushing, wet sheets and ruined underwear.
Like many founders, I’ve had a lot of jobs. One of them was as a baker. There is a very common kitchen tool called a rubber spatula and it’s typically used to scrape all the last bits of cake batter out of a bowl (know where this is going…?). So everytime I would scrape batter out of a bowl, I’d think about inventing a spatula to get all the last bits of goo out of my vagina…
In short, the idea for dripstick started at the intersection of baking and laziness.
When and how did you take the decision to take the plunge and turn your idea into a business?
I sat (no pun intended?) on the idea for years, but never told anyone about it since it was so odd. It wasn’t until a low point in my journey – my co-founder at a software startup had bailed on me – that I finally told a few friends. Their enthusiasm pushed me to consider taking it more seriously, as well as apply to an accelerator. During the accelerator, I learned how to best pitch the product, but I also learned that people had a really hard time understanding the idea since it was so far from the norm. With all this time invested, I decided to take a chance and order 20k dripsticks (the minimum!). With that many dripsticks in hand, I now had to turn my idea into a business!
You’re a solo founder. Have you ever considered bringing on a co-founder?
Yes! I was very open to bringing on a co-founder if I found someone with a complimentary skill set.
What were the biggest challenges for you personally and your company going from 0 to 1?
I spent a lot of time getting advice and it slowed me down! I was also hesitant to take risks prior to validation. At a certain point, I had invested so much that it was time to just jump!
Do you have any advice for others, who are just getting started?
Qualify your advice and take it with a grain of salt!
I spent a lot of time getting advice from very smart people, but they couldn’t know all the intricacies of my experience, business, and industry – only I did. Advice is great, just understand where it’s coming from. Also, don’t spend all your time on advice – the only way you’ll know if it works is to build it! 🙂