The Dot Targets Millennial Women with Monthly “Party Box” for Periods

It was a great boyfriend—a candidate for Guy of the Year and definitely husband material, in this reporter’s estimation—who inspired a new startup based in Grand Rapids, MI, called The Dot.

Every month during college, when founder and CEO Anais Felt got her period, her boyfriend at the time would show up with a box of her favorite treats, tampons, and pads. As a woman with endometriosis—a painful condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it—periods are no laughing matter for Felt.

“This is so awesome, you bring this to me every month on the dot,” she told him, truly appreciative that she could relax with chocolate and not have to worry about a late-night Walgreens run for feminine supplies. And with that, a lightbulb went off.

The Dot is a $16 monthly subscription service that delivers a box brimming with menstrual supplies, like Birchbox for women of child-bearing years. Subscribers can choose which brand of supplies they’d like—The Dot offers both conventional and all-natural choices—and two high-end chocolate bars. (Fun fact, courtesy of Felt: Why do women crave chocolate so badly during our periods? Because it’s rich in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer that helps relieve a number of symptoms, including cramps, she says.)

Eventually, Felt wants to expand the startup’s product line and variety to offer subscribers more choices—especially in the realm of natural products The Dot officially launched last month, and Felt is still collecting feedback to incorporate in future boxes.

“Our long-term goal is to revolutionize the period at every touch point,” Felt explains. “I want The Dot to be a one-stop shop for your period.”

Menstruation is having a bit of a pop culture moment. Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s girlfriend, used her platform this week to publish an essay for Time about how the stigma associated with menstruation leads girls and women across the world to avoid class or drop out of school entirely. Felt also wants to see an end to period stigma—and the cutesy language we use to describe periods in an effort to make men feel more comfortable. She sees the political awakening taking place among millennial women as a further indication that this is the right time to enter the menstrual tech market.

According to U.S. Census data, there are more than 39.8 million American women in The Dot’s target market (women age 20-35), and at any given time, 17.3 percent of women are menstruating at the same time.

Felt says there are competitors—she mentions Le Parcel and Lola—but she aims to provide higher quality and better customer service by applying skills gleaned while working at tech companies like Varsity News Network. Another goal: creating The Dot’s own brand of menstrual products. She, like many of us, has long looked for an organic product line that works as well as the non-organic options. She wants to tackle that challenge, as well.

“There’s a huge market for traditional tampon brands because they work really well,” she says. “I’ve tried pretty much all of them. But a lot of organic tampons are bulky. I want to create something that works great but is also good for the body.”

Felt has been an entrepreneur since she was a kid. She says she started her first LLC at age 10, her first employee was her mother, and she has created multiple endeavors since then. Running a bootstrapped, two-person company by and for women is the fulfillment of a longtime dream, she says. If The Dot starts turning a profit, Felt hopes to spend some of the money funding women’s reproductive health research and the startups that result.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of startups offering monthly box subscriptions for food, razors, clothing, beauty products, and much more. Despite all the noise, Felt sees opportunity in combining this business model with a focus on feminine products.

“I’ve been working on this for two years,” she says. “It’s still an untapped, sleeping market, and I think millennials will love it. It’s like a party box for your period.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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