Farah Kabir isn’t your average deskmate. Settle in for the day next to the Co-Founder of sexual wellness startup, HANX, and you’ll find yourself inexorably drawn into her world. Female empowerment, happier, healthier sex lives and a whole lot of luxury vegan condoms: nothing is off the agenda. We caught up with our Alpha accelerator grad to grab her advice for future founders and find out how HANX is pushing for female equality – in the boardroom and bedroom.
OPENING UP THE CONVERSATION
FemTech is a global phenomenon, predicted to hit a value of $50 billion by 2025. Take brands such as Thinx scandalising subways over in the US and Elvie making history on the London Fashion Week catwalk – there’s something seriously exciting in the air. FemTech founders are tackling a genuine gap in the market, are PR-savvy and boast both ardent customers and industry champions. Farah reckons it’s “about bloody time”:
“It’s fantastic! I do feel that in the UK we are slightly behind the times, but can also appreciate the challenges such as attitudes and seeking investment. I love Thinx’s bold and unashamed campaigns – it’s really opening up the conversation around female health.”
Billie’s Project Body Hair. Ferly’s campaign for sexual self care. Two examples of how conversation is central to the FemTech movement – and that’s true for HANX as a brand. Inspired by Farah and Sarah’s own candid attitudes, the duo recently cut the digital ribbon on their own forum (LiveJournal fans, here’s your moment). It’s a hub for emotional, sexual and wellness questions to be asked, worries to be addressed, issues to be debated and taboos to be traversed. So, what is on women’s minds? Farah reveals the hottest topic:
“Millennial women want more clarity on how hormonal contraceptives work and the impact they have on their physical and mental health.”
It’s unsurprising that the medical gap is a pressing concern. Take the contraceptive pill: nearly nine in 10 UK women on prescribed contraception take either the combined pill or “mini pill”. However, the pill was developed based on male hormones. As for the lack of true insight into what women’s bodies need plus often debilitating side effects of the Pill and its hormonal pals? It’s no wonder women are calling for a clearer picture on what’s going into their bodies. Over to HANX and their fellow FemTech revolutionaries.
GETTING STARTED, HANX-STYLE
Farah and Sarah’s passion and killer product have rightly picked up recognition since launching in 2017. Crowned “Britains Brightest Startup” by Stylist x Diet Coke Creator’s Collective, HANX bagged £20,000 to drive their growth, plus a bevvy of business mentors including Shortlist Media Co-Founder, Mike Soutar. Throw in sponsorship of Yacht Week, comparisons to Glossier in the Guardian and a £500k seed round last year – and you’ve got an I-Want-To-Do-That success story.
Let’s take a breath. Behind those column inches, partnerships and investment are many hours spent in the Huckletree Shoreditch library, powering through Excel spreadsheets, practicing their pitch and refining the HANX product offering. Here’s Farah’s key advice for founders powering through those early years:
- Don’t expect instantaneous wins from the very start:
“I think we have learned to be more patient. Things always take longer than you expect.”
- Work hard, but not at the expense of your mental or physical health: “Self-care is a big one. We’ve got a great team behind us and work long hours, but if we don’t look after ourselves in the process then we can’t function at our best. Our new addition Emma has instigated lunchtime 1Rebel classes to get our blood pumping and break up laptop time.”
- Hone your perspectives, not just your aesthetic:
“I think it is important for new brands to be authentic and have a voice that represents their story and why they exist – rather than imitate.”
HUCKLETREE SUGGESTS MEETUPS WITH:
Fundraising mavericks: Butternut Box
FemTech trailblazers: Codename: Marilyn
R&D renegades: Fundsquire