Carly Simenauer started her entrepreneurial journey to take on one of the most universal of truths: Feminine hygiene dispensers in public restrooms are just plain awful.
“Most dispensers are dilapidated, rusted, or abandoned…they’re not stocked or they don’t work. Most of them are absolute garbage,” Simenauer told Hypepotamus. “I thought that was a problem I could solve.”
Simenauer, an Emory Goizueta grad, spent several years in the consulting world before pivoting to study industrial design at Georgia Tech. She started researching the feminine hygiene industry and the pain points women and people with periods experience when trying to find quality products when out in public.
That research grew into Strapt Vending, a consumer-facing IoT vending startup for feminine products that ultimately benefits consumers, facilities, and feminine hygiene brands alike.
Consumers who find themselves stuck without a tampon use a cashless, hands-free interface to pick up products. Facilities and offices that sign on as a host location get a higher capacity dispenser and ultimately don’t have to worry about keeping the dispensers stocked and maintained (something the Strapt team takes care of).
For partner facilities, Strapt is manufactured to “look like something that belongs in this century and fits with the modern aesthetic of a building,” added Simenauer. This has helped the startup launch its first public vending sites at popular spots like Ponce City Market and Hotel Claremont, with plans to bring dispensers to Atlanta Tech Village in the near future.
Strapt is also developing a strong relationship with up-and-coming feminine product brands and make it easier for those brands to reach new customers. To date, Strapt vending machines are stocked with products from companies like UK-based Here We Flo and Daye, along with the brand MOONS.
Growing a FemTech Startup
Simenauer was part of Georgia Tech’s Create-X’s 2020 cohort to scale Strapt, and she turned to working on the idea full-time after the program.
As Strapt begins to be installed at its first few host facility sites this summer, it has already grabbed the attention of local investors. Outlander Labs, an Atlanta-based VC firm run by Paige and Leura Craig.
Strapt has also attracted a handful of angel and private investors, according to Simenauer. While the team remains small at the moment, they added a technical lead engineer earlier this summer and are actively recruiting for engineering, fulfillment, and interactive designer roles.